School of Business & Economics

Accounting - Employment Opportunities

Accountants and auditors held about 1.3 million jobs in 2006. They worked throughout private industry and government, but 21 percent of wage and salary accountants worked for accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services firms. Approximately 10 percent of accountants or auditors were self-employed.

Many management accountants, internal auditors, or government accountants and auditors are not CPAs; however, a large number are licensed CPAs. Most accountants and auditors work in urban areas, where public accounting firms and central or regional offices of businesses are concentrated.

Some individuals with backgrounds in accounting and auditing are full-time college and university faculty; others teach part time while working as self-employed accountants or as accountants for private industry or government.

JOB OUTLOOK

Strong growth of accountants and auditor jobs over the 2006-16 decade is expected to result from stricter accounting and auditing regulations, along with an expanding economy. The best job prospects will be for accountants and auditors who have a college degree or any certification, but especially a CPA.

Employment change. Employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow by 18 percent between 2006 and 2016, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This occupation will have a very large number of new jobs arise, almost 226,000 over the projections decade. An increase in the number of businesses, changing financial laws, and corporate governance regulations, and increased accountability for protecting an organization's stakeholders will drive growth.

EARNINGS

Median annual earnings of wage and salary accountants and auditors were $54,630 in May 2006. The middle half of the occupation earned between $42,520 and $71,960. The top 10 percent earned more than $94,050, and the bottom 10 percent earned less than $34,470. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of accountants and auditors were as follows:

Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services $57,020
Management of companies and enterprises 55,560
Local government 50,120
Depository credit intermediation 49,380
State government 47,200


According to a salary survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor's degree candidates in accounting received starting offers averaging $46,718 a year in 2006; master's degree candidates in accounting were offered $49,277 initially.

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