Top Paying Accounting Jobs for 2016

An original

If you think that accountants merely crunch numbers while sitting in a cubicle, you’ll be glad to know that there are a wide-range of extremely high paying and rewarding jobs for accountants that don’t require a cubicle. Accounting is an exciting field that is always on the innovative edge of the business world. As the business world gets more and more complex, accountants lead the way in cutting through the intricacy and making business understandable.

A degree in accounting does not just mean a job in accounting. It can lead to a diverse set of business related positions. Accounting is the language of business, and every business needs a good interpreter.  A career in accounting can lead to financially rewarding outcomes with the top 10 percent earning an average $115,950 per year and the lowest paid at $40,850 per year, according to BLS.

Add to these salary figures the fact that accounting is a stable career path with an 11% growth rate expected in the next ten years, and you’ve got a career that is continually in demand

US News & World Report rank accounting as the #3 best business job, ranking behind statisticians, and research analysts. Third place is respectable until you consider that accounting has a growth rate of almost ten times as fast as these jobs, and a stunning unemployment rate of 3.2%.

According to a PayScale study, accountants are extremely satisfied with their jobs and rate their jobs 5 out of 5 based on 3,498 votes. Despite hard hours and challenging work, many accountants are happy with the amount of personal time they get, as well as the benefits and opportunities they encounter in their careers. In fact, accounting jobs are routinely ranked high on the happiest jobs for working women because of the predictable expectations and good pay.

But what exactly are the top paying accounting jobs? This report offers a look into many diverse and high paying jobs within the field of accounting, organized in descending order.

Top 5 Highest Paying Careers for Accounting Majors

Top 5 | Top 25

1. Presidents and CEOs

Presidents and CEOs often serve under both titles running high-level operations. They are in charge of strategic decisions, strategies, overall workflow, and all employees. Presidents and CEOs are expected to represent the company as a whole and manage company profitability. These individuals typically need a master’s degree and years of experience in management and their particular field. A strong skill set of analytics and logic are necessary. An accounting degree is not necessary but can help with strategic and financial decision-making.

Total pay including salary, bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions for Presidents and CEOs generally falls within the range of $73,082 to $373,182 per year. Presidents and CEOs will find the best salaries in Washington, Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, and Chicago, with higher-than-average pay rates.

President and CEO (United States)

Compare your salary. Get a FREE salary report »

Top 5 Skills That Effect President and CEO Salaries

Strategic Planning – 19%
Leadership – 17%
New Business Development – 17%
Business Strategy – 16%
Sales Management – 11%

2. Vice President (VP) Finance & Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Salary

The Vice President (VP) Finance & Chief Financial Officer (CFO) generally makes sure that their company’s finances are sound and they run projections as to what future business ventures their company might take on. Depending on the size of their company, they may oversee accountants, partake in audits, run bookkeeping, and monitor the company’s finances. A bachelor’s or master’s in business, economics, or finance is generally required to become a VP of finance as well as ample work-related experience at executive or high management levels. 55 percent of VPs of Finance have 20 or more years of experience.

Total pay including salary, bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions for the Vice President (VP) Finance & Chief Financial Officer (CFO) generally falls within the range of $81,587 – $270,217 per year. New York is a popular city for VPs of Finance due to the average salary being 22 percent higher than the national average.


Top 5 Skills That Effect Vice President (VP) Finance & Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Salaries

Mergers and Acquisitions – 44%
Senior Financial Management – 19%
Leadership – 19%
Financial Modeling – 16%
Cash Flow Management – 11%

3. Chief Operating Officer (COO)

In most corporations, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) is generally the second highest-ranking executive. As second-in-command, the COO is in charge of executing a company’s overall vision, working with directors and operations managers to realize that vision. COOs may constantly receive data-based reports and overviews on company revenues, productivity, efficiency, and other factors that can be acted upon to improve performance. Most chief operating officers hold graduate degrees in business and management. Accounting degrees come in handy for reading a company’s overall financial health.

Total pay including salary, bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions for chief operating officers generally falls within the range of $70,419 – $282,476 per year. New York, San Francisco, and Houston offer comfortable salaries for chief operating officers with salaries reaching up to 35% higher than the national average.


Top 5 Skills That Effect Vice President (VP) Finance Salaries

Business Strategy – 18%
Strategic Planning – 11%
Sales Management – 9%
Leadership – 5%
Team Leadership – 1%

4. Vice President (VP), Finance

Typically, vice presidents of finance (VP) are near the top of a business’ hierarchy. VPs of finance are most often stationed with a finance department in medium- to large-sized companies. Primary responsibilities include profitability, budget coordination and planning, goal setting, and government regulation implementation. They manage daily and monthly operations as well as financial reporting and accounting. A master’s degree in finance, business, or accounting is generally held by VPs of finance. They must also possess extensive experience in the field of accounting. most companies prefer that VPs of finance are certified as public accountants and have 5-10 years experience in high-level accounting or finance positions.

Total pay including salary, bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions for the vice president of finance generally falls within the range of $81,716 – $226,449 per year. Los Angeles and San Francisco are hot destinations for higher than national average salary up to 23% higher.

Compare your salary. Get a FREE salary report »


Top 5 Skills That Effect Vice President (VP), Finance Salaries

Leadership – 37%
Strategic Planning – 36%
Senior Financial Management – 9%
Financial Modeling – 8%
Forecasting – 8%

5. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Chief Financial Officers oversee the financial operations for companies and direct the focus of accounting and finance departments. CFOs may oversee departments involved in purchasing, investments, debts, taxes, pricing, and accounts payable/receivable. They also conduct research and audits to ensure that departments within their companies are following IRS guidelines. Advanced knowledge and skills in accounting are important for calculations, reporting, budgeting, forecasting, and overall finances. Generally, a bachelor’s in finance or accounting is required by employers. Some employers will also require job experience.

Total pay including salary, bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions for Chief Financial Officers generally falls within the range of $67,416 – $251,604 per year. CFOs flock to Abc Corp for an average earning of $201,000 per year with salaries reaching up to $358,000 per year.

Compare your salary. Get a FREE salary report »

Top 5 Skills That Effect CFO Salaries

Leadership – 22%
Strategic Planning – 19%
Financial Modelling – 17%
Senior Financial Management – 7%
Forecasting – 3%


Title Median Pay Pay Range
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Salary $159,891 $73,498 – $423,046
President and CEO Salary $155,174 $73,082 – $373,182
Vice President (VP) Finance & Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Salary $140,234 $81,587 – $270,217
Chief Operating Officer (COO) Salary $135,653 $70,419 – $282,476
Vice President (VP), Finance Salary $126,011 $81,716 – $226,449
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Salary $121,942 $67,416 – $251,604
Accounting Professor Salary $114,564 $86,431-$184,855
Finance Director Salary $104,842 $54,308 – $183,074
Corporate Controller Salary $88,529 $58,967 – $145,538
Financial Controller, Industrial Plant Salary $79,249 $50,623 – $127,225
Financial Controller Salary $76,344 $49,844 – $121,885
Senior Financial Analyst Salary $75,194 $60,404 – $102,096
Assistant Controller Salary $68,150 $44,170 – $105,442
Systems Accountant Salary $67,380 $44,566 – $102,806
Assistant Controller (Financial) Salary $65,258 $39,856 – $103,658
Forensic Accountant Salary $64,939 $41,337 – $117,700
Accounting Manager Salary $63,925 $40,852 – $95,983
Senior Accountant Salary $62,299 $47,956 – $82,563
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Salary $60,977 $42,873 – $106,199
Management Accountant Salary $56,280 $35,278 – $85,657
Tax Associate Salary $54,648 $41,180 – $67,315
Internal Auditor Salary $53,323 $34,988 – $76,492
Tax Accountant Salary $52,828 $38,171 – $73,742
Accountant Salary $47,936 $32,119 – $67,204
Staff Accountant Salary $45,837 $34,066 – $59,466

Source: PayScale