Attention FAE Customers:
Please be aware that NASBA credits are awarded based on whether the events are webcast or in-person, as well as on the number of CPE credits.
Please check the event registration page to see if NASBA credits are being awarded for the programs you select.

Want to save this page for later?


Rising Salaries May Not Overcome Accountant Shortage

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Mar 29, 2023


Faced with declining enrollment in accounting programs and fewer people entering the field, firms are trying various methods to fill vacancies, The Wall Street Journal reported. But such measures may not be enough.

Some firms are raising salaries and offering signing bonuses, giving students and entry-level and junior employees more responsibility, and offering flexible working arrangements.

All of this is aimed at counteracting the perception, among others, that better paying and more “dynamic” positions are available in tech, investment banking and private equity, the Journal reported.

“For what we do, the amount of work we put into it and for as critical as we are to the overall health of the financial markets, it’s not paid enough,” accounting and auditing consultant Dane Dowell told the Journal.

The pressures of wage inflation and a talent shortage are causing salaries to rise, accountants, academics and advisers told the Journal. The average, U.S. entry-level accountants’ and auditors’ offered starting salaries increased by 13 percent to nearly $61,000 a year in 2022 from the year earlier, up from a 4 percent increase in 2021 and a 2 percent increase in 2020, according to a review of job postings from Revelio Labs Inc., as reported by the Journal. This year through February, entry-level pay went up by 21 percent to almost $67,000, compared with prior-year periods.

Pay is also up among five seniority levels, from entry level through vice presidents. These average salaries rose by 12 percent to nearly $87,000 in 2022 and by 9 percent to nearly $90,000 this year through February, compared with prior periods, Revelio Labs data showed.

“We were not keeping pace with what was happening with other professions [such as tech and other areas of finance] and during the pandemic, certainly eyes were opened,” said Sue Coffey, chief executive of public accounting at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) in an interview with the Journal.

Graduating accounting students at the University of Northern Iowa are receiving more opportunities and choice in entry-level roles in professional services than they had in previous years, Professor and Chair of Accounting Joseph Ugrin told the Journal. He also said that entry-level workers are doing more than previous generations. “I wouldn’t have imagined getting that level of responsibility for five or 10 years, back when I started. It’s just a sign of the shortage, that you need bodies to do work.” 

Jim Brady, chief operating officer at Grant Thornton, told the Journal that more is needed to attract people to the profession.

“I just don’t think giving a ton of 25 percent pay raises across the board is going to reverse what’s been building over the last two decades,” he said. “We can’t just buy ourselves out of getting more people to go into the CPA profession.” 

He said that, in order to  build enthusiasm for the profession, firms  recruiters and professional organizations must educate accounting graduates about the significant presence of technology in the work, which can involve blockchains, artificial intelligence and robotics.

Ginnie Carlier, Ernst & Young’s head of talent, said in a February post that EY values job candidates with an “adventure mind-set.” The firm said its entry-level compensation in audit and tax has increased, on average, by 23 percent since 2020.

KPMG has said it provided its largest raises in U.S. firm history in 2021, an undisclosed “double-digit percentage,” according to the Journal. The firm’s talent and culture leader for audit in the U.S., Becky Sproul, told the Journal that “[i]f things continue on the path they are today, then yes, we will continue to raise salaries in response to that.”