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Show me the money: The highest paying accounting jobs

6 min read
Highest paying accounting jobs

For those considering a career in accounting, there’s great news regarding job availability and earning potential. Accountants are generally in high demand and can earn fantastic pay checks. 

The average accountant has an annual income of around $77,0001, and the average CPA salary is just over $96,0002. However, many roles pay significantly more than the average. We're sharing seven of the highest paying accounting jobs and what credentials you need to work in these desirable roles. 

7 Highest paying accounting jobs

Before we dive into these high paying careers for accountants, it's important to note that these are averages. Location, experience, industry, and other factors all play a role in earning potential. 

#7: Accounting Manager 

Job position: Accounting Manager 

Average salary: $109,796 - $138,1243 

Job description: Oversee all daily functions of an accounting department, including budgeting, billing, transactions, internal controls, and others.

Credentials needed: This upper-level position requires at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance, a valid Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, and several years of professional accounting experience.4 

#6: Tax Manager 

Job position: Tax Manager 

Average salary: $133,00 - $207,5005 

Job description: Lead tax practice operations and deliver tax-related services in compliance with laws and regulations, helping clients remain compliant and maximize tax savings, and providing sound tax business advice. 

Credentials needed: In addition to a higher education degree in accounting or finance, you’ll need excellent top-tier knowledge of tax law, reporting, and best practices—likely verified by years of experience and an Enrolled Agent  (EA) designation.6

#5: Corporate Controller 

Job position: Corporate Controller 

Average salary: $111,000 – $210,7505 

Job description: Manage financial and accounting functions of an organization, with duties including financial planning, financial process management, budgeting, developing and implementing financial policies, preparing tax returns, and performing risk assessments. 

Credentials needed: You must earn at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance and your CPA license to hold this position. You also will likely need to demonstrate substantial corporate accounting management experience.7

#4: Risk Management Director 

Job position: Risk Management Director 

Average salary: $162,923 - $214,9478 

Job description: Why is this role one of the highest paying accounting jobs? You'll assess financial decisions regarding investments, clients, policies, procedures, and spending to guide a company towards growth, rather than incurring losses. 

Credentials needed: In addition to a bachelor’s degree in finance, many companies prefer a master’s degree in risk management, and some companies even require specialized training in their specific industries, such as law, statistics, or healthcare. Likewise, you will need to demonstrate substantial risk management experience to be hired in a director position. You may also increase your appeal for hire by presenting a CPA license, or certification or professional training in risk management areas.9 

#3: VP of Finance 

Job position: Vice President of Finance 

Average salary: $138,60010 - $238,15011

Job description: Responsible for processing all financial activities of an organization. This role analyzes data to inform executive decision-making and business strategies, and also manages all aspects of company finances, from tax compliance to payroll to tracking market trends. 

Credentials needed: Having an active CPA license is crucial to this position, in addition to a bachelor’s and likely master’s degree in finance or accounting. Similarly, you will most likely need to have at least 10 years of experience in public accounting.12 

#2: Audit Partner 

Job position: Audit Partner 

Average salary: $227,268 - $293,50313 

Job description: Lead the auditing department in applying expert auditing knowledge and technique to determine the financial status of an organization’s clients. 

Credentials needed: Audit Partners need to have an active CPA license, which also requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. In addition, you will present substantial auditing experience, with additional higher degrees and the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) credential greatly increasing your ability to compete on the job market.14 

Highest paying accounting jobs: #1: CFO 

Job position: Chief Financial Officer 

Average salary: $333,465 - $570,57915 

Job description: Of the highest paying accounting jobs, this is at the top. You'll be responsible for all financial aspects of a company, including but not limited to financial planning and decision-making, tracking cash flow, assessing financial status and advising on best growth strategies, and ensuring that all financial reporting remains compliant with regulations. 

Credentials needed: This senior executive role requires vast experience in many areas of corporate finance, in addition to a bachelor’s and likely a master’s degree in finance or accounting. An active CPA license is necessary to implement the knowledge and prestige required for this position. Additional certifications and trainings are also highly valuable when applying for a CFO opening.16 

Learn how to thrive in your accounting career 

Whether you’re just exploring careers or starting your first accounting job, Becker supports you with the knowledge you need to get on the path to landing one of the highest paying accounting jobs! Check out our course, How to Survive and Thrive to Start your Accounting Career and get insights from hundreds of CPAs on what they wished they knew in their first accounting role. 

Do you want to succeed in your first accounting role?

Experienced CPAs share what they wish they knew at the beginning of their career and how they turned challenges into opportunities.

Sources
  1. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/professionals/102015/where-do-accountants-earn-most-money.asp 

  2. https://www.indeed.com/career/certified-public-accountant/salaries 

  3. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/accounting-manager-salary 

  4. https://www.accounting.com/careers/accounting-manager/ 

  5. https://www.cnbc.com/2024/04/12/6-figure-accounting-jobs-are-in-high-demand-in-the-us-not-just-during-tax-season.html

  6. https://resources.workable.com/tax-manager-job-description

  7. https://www.indeed.com/hire/job-description/corporate-controller#:~:text=A%20Corporate%20Controller%2C%20or%20Corporate,financial%20processes%20and%20handling%20budgets

  8. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/risk-management-director-salary#:~:text=The%20average%20Risk%20Management%20Director,falls%20between%20%24162%2C923%20and%20%24214%2C947.

  9. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/career/Risk-Management-Director/What-Is-How-to-Become#:~:text=If%20you're%20interested%20in,even%20a%20healthcare%2Drelated%20discipline

  10. https://universityhq.org/how-to-become/accountant-cpa-careers/top-paying-jobs/

  11. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/alternate/vice-president-of-financial-reporting-salary

  12. https://www.bridgespan.org/insights/nonprofit-job-description-toolkit/vice-president-finance-and-operations-job-descrip

  13. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/posting/audit-partner-salary

  14. https://www.malonebailey.com/Careers/Current-Opportunities/Audit-Partner-US/#:~:text=Major%20Duties%20%26%20Responsibilities%3A&text=Train%20and%20mentor%20audit%20staff,reports%20and%20presentations%20as%20required

  15. https://www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/chief-financial-officer-salary

  16. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/cfo.asp#:~:text=The%20term%20chief%20financial%20officer,weaknesses%20and%20proposing%20corrective%20actions

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