US Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Salary Updated for 2022

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For an accounting professional, having a CPA license offers numerous benefits. An improved income is one of the most appealing benefits of this license. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an accountant's salary on average can be more than $70,000, but an average CPA salary ranges between $119,000 and $150,000, depending on the candidate's level of experience.

In this guide, we've put together a high-level view of the main contributing elements of salary. Read on to see how much a CPA license can increase your earning potential.

What is the average CPA salary & how much do accountants make?

On average, a CPA’s annual pay, without bonuses, is around $119,000 per year. CPAs with less than one year of experience earn an average of $70,000 a year, while those with more than 20 years of experience earn an average of $150,000 annually.

  • Average Non-Certified Accountant Salary: $50,129* per year (excluding bonuses)
  • Average CPA Salary: $119,000* per year

Robert Half International's salary guide mentions that accounting professionals with a professional certification or master's degree earn an average of 5% to 15% more, with CPA being the most sought-after certification. Here are the factors that Determine a CPA Salary:

Experience

A degree in accounting allows you to enter the profession immediately in a variety of fields and earn a competitive salary as an accountant. But did you know that obtaining your CPA license can open doors to more promotions, managerial opportunities, and a higher CPA salary? On average, CPAs earn 10-15% more than their uncertified counterparts.

Industry

Certified Public Accountants earn 10-15% more than non-certified ones. Salaries can be higher than average in industries experiencing a lot of growth, like financial technology or software. As a CPA, you can work in auditing, taxation, quality assurance, or advisory services for the top accounting firms, like the Big Four, well-known global companies, or smaller local firms. In recent years, certain industries like Hospitality, Healthcare, and EdTech have been growing and looking to hire accountants.

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 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. This is faster than the average for all other occupations. BLS attributes the positive employment outlook to the continued demand for qualified professionals who can prepare and examine financial records during economic growth.

Location

The larger the city, the higher the median compensation for a CPA, as cities have greater competition, opportunity, and capital. Salaries vary by geography and are greatly influenced by the state of the country's economy. Countries with a healthy economy have a high demand for financial specialists, and as a result, those positions are well compensated.

The cost of living in urban regions is greater, with certain areas being more expensive than others. Typically, larger cities provide greater access to a variety of employment opportunities, which can contribute to job satisfaction and higher earning potential.

Overall, accountants are often well-paid, so it is best to first identify where you’d enjoy living and align your wage expectations accordingly.

How Does Experience Affect CPA Salary?

Your income will gradually rise as you gain experience. Your experience and expertise are usually the most important factors in establishing your salary. As a result, the larger the compensation, the more obligations you have. However, some applicants may have less-than-average work experience. This could mean that they have been working in a low-competition industry, or that there is a need for greater development of critical skills. The average CPA salary at this stage is about $58,000.

  25th Percentile
(new to role)
50th Percentile
(average experience)
75th Percentile
(above average experience)
Entry Level $51,750 $64,000 $74,250
1 to 3 Yrs Experience $62,000 $77,000 $90,000
Senior $74,750 $88,000 $102,000
Manager $98,750 $121,000 $143,000

Entry-Level CPA

The first year of experience is a significant achievement. A Certified Public Accountant’s starting salary is around $64,000, but it can range anywhere from $44,000 to $84,500 depending on where you live and work. As you gain experience, your roles and skills will determine your income. Most states require at least two years of public accounting experience to be eligible to become a CPA. You may already be certified or be in the process of being certified as a junior accountant (1-3 years).

Senior-Level CPA

After 4-6 years of experience, you become a senior accountant. You should anticipate increasing responsibilities and obligations as you grow professionally. At this point in your career, you will have begun to develop areas of focus and expertise, and your employment title will most likely reflect your specialization. Salaries in this phase of your professional development might range from $74,750 to $102,000.

Manager or Director with a CPA

After a few years in a senior position, your accomplishments and areas of expertise become more important than the number of years you've worked. To advance to positions of leadership, you must stand out. The top place on the ladder is not available to everyone. This category contains applicants with greater experience, competence and/or certification(s). Salaries for senior level roles average at about $109,750.

How Does Industry Affect CPA Salary?

The first major decision for a new accountant is whether to pursue a career in public or private accounting. Accountants in both the public and private sectors are well compensated. Public accountants, on the other hand, earn slightly more than their private counterparts in comparable professions.

Public accountant salary

One of the best ways to develop your accounting career is to work in public accounting, but it is also one of the most demanding. An entry-level public accountant may expect to earn around $57,750 per year.

There are several ways to specialize as a public accountant. You may find from the list of job roles, the ideal fit for your desired lifestyle. Here are four career specialties offered in public accounting:

  • Auditing/Assurance
  • Tax Compliance and Planning
  • Advisory and Consulting

Private accountant salary

There are various roles open to you when working in private companies. An entry-level private accountant may expect to earn around $57,250 per year. CPAs can expect to earn 10-15% more on average than non-CPAs in private industry. For many students, starting a career in the private sector after completing college is a great choice. A career in private accounting can provide industry expertise and, in some cases, a better work-life balance than careers in public accounting.

Here are several examples of private sector accounting roles, ranging from entry-level employment to senior leadership:

  • Accounts Payable
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Internal Auditor
  • Financial Analyst
  • Controller
  • CFO
  • Corporate Accountant
  • Tax Accountant

What companies hire CPAs?

CPAs can work for a variety of companies because almost every company in the world needs financial services. Therefore, the possibilities for landing your ideal career are endless. The following are just a few of the industries where you may work as a CPA:

  • Aerospace
  • Business
  • Commercial banking
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Government
  • Healthcare
  • Information and management technology
  • Internal auditing
  • Law
  • Law enforcement
  • Manufacturing
  • Media and entertainment
  • Non-profit
  • Real estate
  • Restaurant
  • Retail
  • Savings and loan
  • Service
  • Sports

How Does Company Size Affect the CPA Salary?

In some cases, large organizations offer more perks and amenities to their employees, like gyms, cafeterias, and daycare, than smaller companies. On the other hand, individuals have more input on the perks and benefits available since smaller businesses can be more flexible and responsive to employees' needs.

Some large organizations are willing and able to compensate well in order to attract talented employees. The more staff, assets, or clients a company has, the more complicated certain accounting responsibilities become, and an accountant's compensation does reflect this. The Big 4 accounting firms are good examples of public accounting organizations where an entry-level CPA may expect to earn more than the average beginning pay.

Certified Public Accountant Salaries

Below is a chart of average public accounting salaries based on percentile and title/experience. It’s clear to see how your CPA license will provide a significant salary boost early on in your career.

Licensed CPA Salaries
Tax Services 25% 50% 75% 95%
Senior Manager / Director $114,250 $137,500 $165,000 $217,000
Manager $88,500 $107,000 $127,000 $167,750
Senior $62,000 $73,250 $87,250 $115,500
1 to 3 Years $49,000 $59,750 $70,500 $93,500
Up to 1 Year $40,500 $49,000 $57,250 $75,750
 
Audit/Assurance Services 25% 50% 75% 95%
Senior Manager / Director $112,500 $134,750 $161,000 $212,000
Manager $76,250 $93,500 $110,000 $145,250
Senior $54,250 $66,750 $78,500 $103,500
1 to 3 Years $45,000 $54,550 $64,250 $82,250
Up to 1 Year $40,500 $49,000 $57,750 $76,500
 
Licensed CPA Salaries
Tax Services 25% 50% 75% 95%
Senior Manager / Director $114,250 $137,500 $165,000 $217,000
Manager $88,500 $107,000 $127,000 $167,750
Senior $62,000 $73,250 $87,250 $115,500
1 to 3 Years $49,000 $59,750 $70,500 $93,500
Up to 1 Year $40,500 $49,000 $57,250 $75,750
 
Audit/Assurance Services 25% 50% 75% 95%
Senior Manager / Director $112,500 $134,750 $161,000 $212,000
Manager $76,250 $93,500 $110,000 $145,250
Senior $54,250 $66,750 $78,500 $103,500
1 to 3 Years $45,000 $54,550 $64,250 $82,250
Up to 1 Year $40,500 $49,000 $57,750 $76,500
 

Big 4 Accounting Firm CPA Salaries

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

Deloitte - Average Certified Public Accountant Salary: $73,000

Deloitte is a multinational professional services network. Many of the world's most respected brands rely on Deloitte for industry-leading audit, consulting, tax, and advisory services. It is the largest professional services firm in the world.

PwC - Average Certified Public Accountant Salary: $74,000

Pricewaterhouse Coopers is a multinational professional services network headquartered in London. With a global network of over 200,000 employees, it is the second largest professional services firm in the world.

EY - Average Certified Public Accountant Salary: $76,000

Ernst & Young is a multinational professional services firm headquartered in London. They provide consulting, assurance, tax, and transaction services. EY is the third largest professional services firm in the world.

KPMG - Average Certified Public Accountant Salary: $70,000

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

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States With Projected Increase in Employment

Over the next 3 years, openings for accountant and auditor positions are projected to increase. Here is a breakdown of the US states that are expected to see the greatest increases.

Projected Percentage Increase of Accountant and Auditor Positions

STATE PERCENT PROJECTED
CHANGE, 2021-2023
AVERAGE ANNUAL
OPENINGS
Arizona 7.9% 3380
New York 7.7% 15650
Utah 7.1% 1530
Texas 6.9% 14860
Hawaii 6.8% 600
Tennessee 6.6% 3190
Rhode Island 5.8% 660
Vermont 5.6% 290
New Hampshire 5.2% 690
North Carolina 5.2% 3730

Most Projected Average Annual Openings of Accountant and Auditor Positions

STATE AVERAGE ANNUAL
OPENINGS
% PROJECTED
CHANGE, 2021-2023
California 18550 5.2
New York 15650 7.7
Texas 14860 6.9
Florida 9640 5.1
Illinois 5930 4.1
Pennsylvania 5460 2.2
Virginia 5300 4.2
Ohio 4560 .4
Colorado 4540 4.8
Michigan 4170 3.8

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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*Sources: U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, Robert Half

The two major factors that contribute to a CPA’s yearly salary are the employee’s experience and the size of the company. On average, CPAs earn 10–15% more than their uncertified counterparts.

Top-Paying Industries for Accountants and Auditors

When it comes to accountants' and auditors' annual compensation, not all positions pay the same. Some industries pay better than others. Choosing an accounting profession in a higher-paying field may yield a considerably better financial return over the course of your career.

Accountants' and auditors' employment is expected to expand by 11% between 2022 and 2024, demonstrating how in-demand accountants are across all work professions. This is wonderful news not just for people searching for work in the sector, but it also indicates that the prognosis for the US economy is improving. As a result, there would be a greater demand for accountants to produce and review financial records.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors earned a median annual pay of $77,250 as of May 2021 (the most recent data). The median pay is the wage at which half of the employees in a certain occupation earned more, and half earned less (i.e, the exact middle point). The lowest 10% made less than $47,970, while the wealthiest 10% earned more than $128,970.

If you are on your way to becoming a CPA and looking to broaden your professional options, here are some of the top industries to consider as you chart your course for a career in accounting:

  • Finance and insurance - $79,310
  • Management of companies and enterprises - $78,540
  • Government - $77,290
  • Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services - $77,080

We hope you found this information helpful as you think about pursuing your career as a CPA! To help you along your journey, here are the top 10 accounting jobs, stating that employment of accountants and auditors is expected to increase by 4 percent from 2019 to 2029.

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FAQs

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.

The typical entry-level CPA income is around $64,000, but it can range anywhere from $44,000 to $84,500 depending on where you live and work.

Read More About the CPA Exam

UWorld Roger CPA Review provides CPA candidates with all the study materials and resources needed to prepare and successfully pass the US Uniform CPA Exam online.

Get a full breakdown of the requirements to apply and sit for the CPA Exam, as well as information on obtaining CPA licensure.

Discover which CPA career path is best for you! CPAs can pursue a variety of rewarding careers in both public and private accounting.
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