High demand for accountants and finance professionals is boosting their starting salaries as employers nationwide seek to fill a growing number of jobs, a new survey has found.
The 2016 Salary Guide from the global staffing service provider Robert Half shows average starting wages in accounting and finance are expected to increase by 4.7%, the second highest jump of five professional fields tracked. The technology sector is projected to see the highest boost at 5.3%, with creative/marketing and administrative/office support both at 3.8%, and the legal field at 3.1%.
Robert Half researchers credit the anticipated pay increases to significant hiring among companies trying to expand their accounting and finance teams after the Great Recession. Especially high in demand are business system analysts, staff accountants and financial analysts.
“Individuals with advanced technology skills, certifications and specialized industry experience can command even higher salary increases,” the staffing firm noted.
The anticipated wave of retirements among the Baby Boom generation also is gathering momentum and is expected to contribute to the need for new hires.
Offering better pay is essential to attracting and retaining the top people, the September survey concludes. More than 80% of professionals polled for the survey said more money would be a No. 1 reason to switch jobs. The research also showed the average employee would need a 26% pay hike in order to leave for another position.
Federal projections call for a 13% increase in jobs for auditors and accountants nationwide during the decade ending in 2022. By comparison, average employment growth of 11% is forecast for all occupations.
A recent report by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) also concluded that employment prospects are bright for accounting graduates, particularly at larger accounting firms. Hiring of accounting grads increased by 7% from 2012 to 2014.
In the next year, many of the new jobs will be in corporate accounting, according to the Robert Half 2016 Salary Guide. That likely will be reflected by rising wages. For example, average starting salaries for a director of accounting position at firms with $100 million to $250 million in annual revenue are expected to increase by 4.3%, to $117,750 to $154,000 a year.
Meanwhile, the average starting pay for a financial analyst with up to a year of experience will range from $50,000 to $64,000 at large companies, up 4.8% over the 2015 average.
Starting salaries of public accountants also are expected to rise in 2016. For example, an accountant with one to three years of experience may see a pay range of $48,000 to $62,750, an increase of 4.7% over the previous year.
Growth in accounting and finance jobs and salaries coincides with increases in enrollment in undergraduate and graduate accounting programs. For the first time, enrollment surpassed 250,000 students during the 2013-14 academic year, according to a recent AICPA report.
Accounting firms reported hiring a record number of grads in 2014, with the vast majority saying they expect to hire as many or more accounting grads in 2015, the association noted.