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Which accounting jobs pay the most?

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It’s a mystery to me: Why does the federal (US) government think accountants and auditors are poorly paid? According to them, the annual mean wage is $77,920. Why isn’t the profession getting more respect? asks Bryce Sanders at Accountingweb.

The simple answer is the Bureau of Labor Statistics disperses people with your job skills across at least nine professions. So, which jobs in accounting pay the most? To answer that, we’ll use data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017 report

Let’s start with the classification Accountants and Auditors (13-2011).  They “examine, analyze and interpret accounting records to prepare financial statements, give advice or audit and evaluate statements prepared by others. Install and advise on systems for recording costs or other budgetary and financial data.” According to the report, 1,241,000 people do this job nationwide, earning an average of $77,920. These folks primarily work in four industry groups:

Accountants and auditors

IndustryEmploymentMean Wage
Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping Payroll322,140$83,000
Management of Companies & Enterprises97,010$78,070
Local Government44,830$66,950
State Government42,100$62,140

So who is earning the serious money? This brings us to Financial Managers, who “plan, direct or coordinate accounting, investing, banking, insurance, securities and other financial activities of a branch, office or department of an establishment.” This career category sounds rooted in accounting, and 569,380people nationwide are earning about $ 143,530.Financial Manager data

IndustryEmploymentMean Wage
Credit Intermediaries and Related Activities83,830$118,660
Management of Companies & Enterprises66,960$159,930
Securities, Commodity Contracts & Other Financial Inv’ts33,760$203,460
Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping Payroll31,820$173,090

The next highest-paying career category is Personal Financial Advisors. This isn’t the type of job you associate with the word “stockbroker.” The BLS puts “Securities Salesperson” in an entirely different category. Here’s how the agency describes the role: “Advise clients on financial plans using knowledge of tax and investment strategies, securities, insurance, retirement plans and real estate. Duties include assessing client assets, liabilities, cash flow, insurance coverage, tax status and financial objectives.” According to the report, 200,920 people do this job, earning an average of $124,140.Personal Financial Advisor data

IndustryEmploymentMean Wage
Securities, Commodity Contracts & Other Financial Inv’ts139,260$133,910
Credit Intermediaries and Related Activities31,520$103,250
Management of Companies & Enterprises6,910$111,910
Agencies, Brokerage & Other Insurance Related Activities6,720$89,350

Now let’s look at Financial Analysts. They “conduct quantitative analysis of information affecting investment programs of public and private institutions.” These 294,110 people earn about $ 99,430.Financial Analysts data

IndustryEmploymentMean Wage
Securities, Commodity Contracts & Other Financial Inv’ts73,590$127,010
Management of Companies & Enterprises37,680$90,560
Credit Intermediaries and Related Activities26,800$93,890

Continuing down the salary ladder, we reach Financial Examiners, whose job is described as “enforce or ensure compliance with laws and regulations governing financial and securities institutions and financial and real estate transactions. May examine, verify or authenticate records.” This field employs 52,580 people making about $91,780.Financial Examiners data

IndustryEmploymentMean Wage
Credit Intermediaries and Related Activities14,560$83,400
Securities, Commodity Contracts & Other Financial Inv’ts7,010$104,080
The Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)6,810$124,390
Management of Companies & Enterprises5,680$90,060

The next role I looked at is Credit Analyst. Here’s their job description: “Analyses credit data and financial statements of individuals and firms to determine the degree of risk involved in extending credit or lending money. Prepare reports for use in decision making.” There are 78,850 people are employed in this role making about $82,900.Credit Analyst data

IndustryEmploymentMean Wage
Credit Intermediaries and Related Activities28,660$82,160
Non Depository Credit Institutions14,690$82,500
Management of Companies & Enterprises10,920$83,640
Securities, Commodity Contracts & Other Financial Inv’ts5,470$108,760

Budget Analysts come next. Here’s what they do: “Examine budget estimates for completeness, accuracy and conformance with procedures and regulations. Analyze budget and accounting reports.” There are 55,550 people earning about $78,680.Budget Analyst data

IndustryEmploymentMean Wage
The Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)10,850$83,620
Local Government5,990$73,420
State Government5,930$66,630
Colleges, Universities & Professional Schools4,340$69,300
Management of Companies & Enterprises3,370$81,960

Eighth on our list is Tax Examiners and Collectors and Revenue Agents. They “determine tax liability or collect taxes from individuals or business firms according to prescribed laws and regulations.” This field employs 59,660 people earning $59,410.

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