Staff Accountant Salary Guide

Updated September 28, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Get detailed information about a staff accountant's salary. Find out how education and experience affect pay, where to find jobs, and which industries pay the most.

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Staff accountants perform a variety of accounting-related duties. A typical work day might include reviewing financial statements, figuring out tax liabilities, and recommending accounting best practices.

Organized, detail-oriented people often thrive in the staff accountant profession. Before committing to the role, it is a good idea to learn more about a staff accountant's salary and career path. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) projects accounting jobs to grow by 7% from 2020-2030, on par with the national average for all occupations.

Read on to learn more about the staff accountant salary, job prospects, top jobs, and future industry growth.

How Much Do Staff Accountants Make?

So, how much do staff accountants make? According to Payscale, staff accountants earned an average annual salary of $52,980 as of June 2022. However, salaries can vary based on experience level and geographical location.

Staff accountants can also earn certifications that may boost their earnings. For example, Payscale reports that accountants with certified public accountant (CPA) licensure earned an average of $70,940 per year as of June 2022. More specialized qualifications, like a chartered financial analyst (CFA) certification, provide an average annual salary of $82,290 as of May 2022, according to Payscale.

Becoming a staff accountant may be an attractive choice for people seeking to increase their earning potential throughout their careers.

Staff Accountants


Average Annual Salary, June 2022

$52,980

Source: Payscale

Salary by Education

Becoming a staff accountant usually requires a bachelor’s degree. Earning a bachelor's takes most full-time students about four years.

A master’s degree is not required for a staff accounting position, but earning a graduate degree can raise a person’s income. Payscale reports that people with a master of accounting degree made an average annual salary of $75,000 as of June 2022. That is about $22,000 more than the average annual staff accountant salary.

Staff accountants can also gain more education through certification programs. For instance, Payscale reports that a certified fraud examiner (CFE) certification boosts a person’s base salary to an average of $86,000 a year as of June 2022.

Gaining more education may increase a staff accountant’s earning potential. It can also open up more career opportunities by helping people specialize in accounting subfields.

However, graduate education and professional certifications take time and money to earn. Many certifications also require holders to take continuing education courses to maintain their credentials.

Salary by Experience

The longer staff accountants spend in the profession, the more their salary is likely to increase. Doing a good job may lead to performance bonuses or promotions, both of which can improve a staff accountant’s salary.

Note that the biggest salary jump is between early career and midcareer positions. Earning a graduate degree or professional certifications can increase a person’s salary as well.

Salary by Location

Staff accountant salaries can vary depending on where a person lives. States with higher costs of living — like California and New York — may offer higher-paying positions.

Metropolitan areas often offer higher salaries than rural or suburban areas. For instance, the average annual salary for accountants in the San Jose metro area exceeds the average salary for accountants in California by about $20,000.

The BLS data below lists the best-paying states and metropolitan areas for all accountants and auditors, not just staff accountants. Salaries for staff accountants in these locations may vary.

Top-Paying States for Accountants and Auditors, 2021
State Number of Accountants and Auditors Employed Average Annual Salary

District of Columbia

9,200

$110,240

New York

111,660

$105,790

New Jersey

42,230

$97,950

California

151,320

$92,840

Massachusetts

38,140

$92,310

Source: BLS
Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Accountants and Auditors, 2021
Metropolitan Area Number of Accountants and Auditors Employed Average Mean Wage

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

13,850

$112,830

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

117,800

$109,330

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

23,970

$107,540

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

41,850

$99,640

Midland, TX

1,090

$95,380

Source: BLS

Where Should I Work as a Staff Accountant?

The BLS projects staff accountant jobs to grow by about 7% from 2020-2030, which is as fast as the national average. This demand can change based on location and the industry a staff accountant works in.

For instance, states that employ many accountants, like Texas and Florida, will likely need more staff accountants than states with the lowest number of accountant jobs, like Montana and Wyoming. Earning accounting certifications can help job-seekers become more competitive applicants and qualify them for higher-paying positions.

The BLS data below covers accountants and auditors in general, not just staff accountants. However, since this data applies across the accounting field, staff accountants can expect to see similar job growth levels.

Accountants and Auditors


Change in Projected Employment from 2020-2030

+7%

Source: BLS

Best Areas

Job-seekers can find accounting positions, including staff accountant jobs, in all 50 states. CPA licensure requirements vary from state to state, so staff accountants should consider which areas of the U.S. they might like to work in before pursuing licensure.

The best areas for staff accountants usually have more open positions. Many top areas also boast better-than-average projected job growth. For instance, Projections Central projects accounting positions in Colorado to increase 22.8% from 2020-2030. That is more than three times the national average growth rate for the profession.

Learn more about the best areas for staff accountants below. Keep in mind that this data applies to accountants and auditors in many roles, not just staff accountants.

Top-Employing States for Accountants and Auditors, 2021
State Number of Accountants and Auditors Employed Average Mean Wage

California

151,320

$92,840

New York

111,660

$105,790

Texas

104,490

$85,860

Florida

79,380

$76,320

Pennsylvania

54,530

$79,200

Source: BLS
States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Accountants and Auditors, 2020-2030
State Percent Projected Change, 2020-2030 Average Annual Openings

Greatest Projected Percentage Increase

Colorado

22.8%

4,580

Montana

18.1%

430

Washington

17.4%

4,620

Tennessee

16.6%

2,760

New York

16.5%

13,510

Most Projected Average Annual Openings

California

6.9%

16,960

New York

16.5%

13,510

Pennsylvania

7.1%

5,370

Virginia

10.2%

4,870

Washington

17.4%

4,620

Source: Projections Central
Top-Employing Metropolitan Areas for Accountants and Auditors, 2021
Metropolitan Area Number of Accountants and Auditors Employed Annual Mean Wage

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

117,800

$109,330

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

59,470

$89,700

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

41,850

$99,640

Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

38,800

$81,250

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

34,070

$87,720

Source: BLS

Best Industries

Staff accountants can work in diverse industries, so candidates can choose a niche that appeals to them. Someone who enjoys helping people may consider working as an accountant or tax preparer. A person who cares about tax policy might look for federal government jobs.

The industry a staff accountant works in can affect factors like job availability and annual salary. For instance, people in some private sector jobs like information services and computer manufacturing have fewer positions available but can make higher salaries than federal or state government workers.

Keep in mind that BLS data covers accountants and auditors, not just staff accountants. However, staff accountants in these industries can expect comparable salaries depending on their qualifications.

Top-Paying Industries for Accountants and Auditors, 2021
Industry Number of Accountants and Auditors Employed Annual Mean Wage

Pipeline transportation of crude oil

40

$123,230

Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing

2,770

$123,210

Other information services

4,770

$112,900

Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities

30,990

$107,610

Federal executive branch (OEWS designation)

22,260

$107,710

Source: BLS
Top-Employing Industries for Accountants and Auditors, 2021
Industry Number of Accountants and Auditors Employed Annual Mean Wage

Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services

326,570

$86,650

Management of companies and enterprises

104,760

$84,820

Local government, excluding schools and hospitals (OEWS designation)

42,290

$73,860

State government, excluding schools and hospitals (OEWS designation)

42,240

$70,830

Real estate

38,290

$82,090

Source: BLS

Questions About Staff Accountant Salary


What level is a staff accountant?

Staff accountants are usually mid-level employees. They rank higher than junior accountants but often work below senior accountants, who usually have more experience or credentials.

What are the highest-paying staff accountant jobs?

The highest-paying accountant jobs are in the pipeline transportation industry. Other top industries for staff accountants include computer manufacturing, information services, finance, and the U.S. federal government's executive branch.

Where is the best state to work as a staff accountant?

The best state to work in for a staff accountant depends on a person’s career goals and standards of living. With that said, top-paying states for accountants include the District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, and California.

What is the best industry to work in as a staff accountant?

Top industries for staff accountants vary by a person’s qualifications and geographic location. The pipeline transportation industry pays the highest salaries for accountants. The accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services sector offers the most jobs.

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