CPA Salary: How Much Do Certified Public Accountants Make?

The average CPA salary is much higher than the average accountant salary or other similar career choices. Find out all you need to know about certified public accountant salaries here!

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The CPA license provides many advantages in the accounting profession. One of the most desirable advantages is increased salary. To determine just how much a CPA license can impact your career, we’ve compiled this at-a-glance guide to show the main contributing factors of salary differences.

How Much Do Accountants Make? Average CPA Salaries

According to the Journal of Accountancy, “… The annual salary of cpa accountant is approximately $119,000 per year, excluding bonuses. Newly qualified CPAs with less than one year of experience earn an average salary of $66,000 per year, and CPAs with more than 20 years of experience average $152,000 per year in salary.”
Average Accountant Salary Average CPA Salary
$50,129* per year (excluding bonuses) $119,000* per year (excluding bonuses)
Average CPA Salary by Percentile
 
$66K
$119K
 
$152K
 
10%
 
 
90%

Factors That Determine CPA Salary

The finance recruitment firm Robert Half International stated in its salary guide that accounting professionals with a professional certification or master’s degree make 5% to 15% more, on average, with a CPA being the most desired credential.

Years' Experience​

Earning your accounting degree allows you to jump into the profession in a variety of industries with a solid cpa accountant starting salary. But did you know that obtaining your CPA license can open up the door to more promotions, managerial opportunities, and a higher salary? On average, CPAs earn 5-10% more than their uncertified counterparts.

Company Size

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, states that employment of accountants and auditors is expected to increase by 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average for all other occupations. BLS attributes the positive employment outlook to the continued demand for qualified professionals who are able to prepare and examine financial records during economic growth.

CPA Salary Outlook

Robert Half International, a finance recruitment firm, stated in its salary guide that accounting professionals with a CPA credential make 5% to 15% more, on average, than accountants with no credential.

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Job Demand - It’s a Good Day to be a CPA​

Robert Half’s 2018 Accounting & Finance Salary Guide  also points to a high demand for “top talent in public accounting.” Their statement is based on data pointing to a severe shortage of skilled candidates. Because of the high demand, accounting firms are scrambling to obtain top talent. According to Half, “Public accounting firms are pursuing recent college graduates with accounting degrees, and frequently offering higher pay than their competitors, as well as bonuses, perks and additional vacation time. To attract and retain in-demand accountants, many firms are prioritizing work-life balance policies, such as compressed workweeks, telecommuting and flexible work schedules.”

Certified Public Accountant Salaries

Below is a chart of average public accounting salaries based on percentile and title/experience. See how having your CPA license gives you a major increase in salary right off the bat.

Licensed CPA Salaries
Title / Experience Percentile
25th 50th 75% 95%
Tax Services
Senior Manager / Director $110,250 $132,000 $158,750 $210,000
Manager $85,000 $102,000 $122,500 $162,250
Senior $58,500 $70,000 $84,250 $111,500
1 to 3 Years $47,000 $56,500 $68,000 $90,000
Up to 1 Year $38,500 $46,000 $55,250 $73,250
Audit/Assurance Services
Senior Manager / Director $108,250 $129,750 $156,000 $206,500
Manager $73,750 $88,500 $106,500 $140,750
Senior $52,500 $63,000 $75,750 $100,250
1 to 3 Years $42,500 $51,000 $61,250 $81,250
Up to 1 Year $38,500 $46,000 $55,250 $73,250
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Big 4 Accounting Firm CPA Salaries

The average salaries of CPA candidates in the Big 4 accounting firm are:

Deloitte

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, commonly referred to as Deloitte, is a multinational professional services network. It is the largest professional services firm in the world.

Average Public Accountant Salary: $73,000

PwC

PricewaterhouseCoopers is a multinational professional services network headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the second largest professional services firm in the world.

Average Public Accountant Salary: $74,000

EY

Ernst & Young is a multinational professional services firm headquartered in London, England, United Kingdom. EY is the third largest professional services firm in the world.

Average Public Accountant Salary: $76,000

KPMG

KPMG is a professional service company and one of the Big Four auditors. KPMG is the 4th largest professional services firm in the world.

Average Public Accountant ​Salary: $70,000

Top 10 Cities to be an Accountant: Highest CPA Salaries

10. Lake County, Illinois
Annual CPA Salary:
$89,860
9. Morristown, Tennessee
Annual CPA Salary:
$90,580
8. Oxnard, California
Annual Salary:
$90.850
7. San Francisco, California
Annual CPA Salary:
$92,190
6. Newark, New Jersey
Annual CPA Salary:
$93,750
5. Washington, D.C.
Annual CPA Salary:
$93,900
4. Fairbanks, Alaska
Annual Salary:
$94,680
3. San Jose, California
Annual CPA Salary:
$97,910
2. New York, New York
Annual CPA Salary:
$101,520
1. San Rafael, California
Annual CPA Salary:
$106,050
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CPA Salaries Q&A FAQ

According to the Journal of Accountancy, the average accountant makes $50,129* per year (excluding bonuses)
According to the Journal of Accountancy, the average annual salary for a CPA is $119,000* per year (excluding bonuses)
According to the Journal of Accountancy, the average accountant salary is $50,129* per year, while the average CPA salary is $119,000 per year

The average salary of an accountant is just over $50k. There is a substantial difference in salary if one moves from being an accountant to a CPA, which has an average salary of $119k.

The two major factors that contribute to a CPA’s yearly salary are the employee’s Years’ Experience​ and the company’s size.