US Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Salary
[Updated for 2024]

FREE eBook:
Secrets to Career Success
Stand out to recruiters and jumpstart your accounting career with this foolproof guide to success.
Looking for CPA salary data? We are here to help you! A CPA license provides numerous advantages, one of the most appealing being an increase in earning potential. Ultimately, the salary of a licensed CPA is higher than that of a regular accountant. In this guide, we’ve put together a high-level view of the main contributing factors to salary. Read on!

What is the Average CPA Salary & How Much do Accountants Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average CPA salary, without bonuses, is around $119,000 per year. CPAs with less than one year of experience earn an average of $78,000 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 (excluding bonuses)
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.

Here are the factors that determine a CPA Salary:


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.


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 more accountants.

Company Size

The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook states that employment of accountants and auditors is expected to increase by 4 percent from 2022 to 2032. Accountants and auditors are expected to have 126,500 job openings per year on average over the next decade. Many of those positions are expected to be filled as a result of the need to replace workers who change occupations or leave the labor force, such as to retire.

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


Salaries vary by geography and are greatly influenced by the state of the country's economy. The larger the city, the higher the median compensation for a CPA, as cities have greater competition, opportunity, and capital. 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.


A Certified Public Accountant’s starting salary can range anywhere from $51,000 to $74,000 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 becoming certified as a junior accountant (1-3 years).


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

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 spot on the ladder is not available to everyone. This category contains applicants with greater experience, competence, and/or certifications. Salaries for senior-level roles average 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 similar roles.

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 jobs. An entry-level public accountant may expect to earn around $55,000 - $65,000 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 for private companies. An entry-level private accountant may expect to earn around $55,000 per year. 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 a few examples of accounting jobs in the private sector, from entry-level to senior management:

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

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 centers, than smaller companies. On the other hand, people have more say over the perks and benefits they get because smaller businesses can be more flexible and listen to their needs.

Some large organizations are willing and able to compensate well in order to attract better talent. 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.

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:



Commercial banking







Information technology

Internal auditing


Law enforcement


Media and entertainment


Real estate



Savings and loan



Certified Public Accountant Salaries

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

Licensed CPA Salary
Title/Experience Percentile
25% 50% 75%
Tax Services
Senior Manager/Director  $118,500 $146,250 $175,750
Manager $92,750 $112,750 $131,000
Senior $65,250 $78,500 $90,500
1 to 3 years $51,250 $63,000 $72,750
Up to 1 year $40,500 $49,000 $57,750
Audit/ Assurance Services 
Senior Manager/Director  $116,750 $144,500 $167,500
Manager $80,000 $100,000 $114,000
Senior $57,250 $72,000 $82,000
1 to 3 years $48,500 $59,750 $68,750
Up to 1 year $40,500 $49,000 $57,750

Big 4 Accounting Firm CPA Salaries

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

  1. Deloitte - Average Certified Public Accountant Salary: $123,640 per year.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.
  2. PwC - Average Certified Public Accountant Salary: $132,063 per year. PricewaterhouseCoopers 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.
  3. EY - Average Certified Public Accountant Salary: $124,787 per year. Ernst & Young is a multinational professional services firm headquartered in London. They provide consulting, assurance, tax, and transaction services.
  4. KPMG - Average Certified Public Accountant ​Salary:$130,744 per year. KPMG is the 4th largest professional services company in the world.
Want to pass the CPA Exam on the first try?
See how Roger’s energy + UWorld’s revolutionary Qbank will help you pass the first time.

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

CHANGE, 2021-2024
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

CHANGE, 2021-2024
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

1. San Francisco, CA
Annual CPA Salary: $125,000
2. San Jose, CA
Annual CPA Salary: $120,000
3. New York City, NY
Annual CPA Salary: $115,000
4. Los Angeles, CA
Annual CPA Salary: $110,000
5.Chicago, IL
Annual CPA Salary: $105,000
6. Seattle, WA
Annual CPA Salary: $100,000
7. Houston, TX
Annual CPA Salary: $95,000
8. Atlanta, GA
Annual CPA Salary: $90,000
9. Washington D.C.
Annual CPA Salary: $85,000
10. Boston, MA
Annual CPA Salary: $80,000

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

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 2023 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 $78,000 in May 2022. (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 $48,560, while the wealthiest 10% earned more than $132,690.

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
Reach your goals with the course that's raising the bar in CPA Exam preparation.
cell phone showing mobile app of uworld cpa review course

Frequently Asked Questions (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 without credentials.
The typical entry-level CPA income can range anywhere from $51,000 to $74,000 depending on where you live and work.

Read More Related Articles

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.
Scroll to Top