October 24, 2020

How Are Public Accounting Salaries Stacking Up for 2021?

You know fall is right around the corner when Robert Half releases its latest Accounting & Finance Salary Guide, and the 2021 edition is now available for download. But be warned: Due to everyone’s favorite pandemic, starting salaries for public accounting positions are expected to *barely* increase next year.

Of the five positions each under “tax services” and “audit/assurance services” in Bob’s 2021 guide, not a single one had a starting salary that was projected to increase by 1% this coming year. The biggest increase was 0.66% for staff with under one year of experience in both the tax and audit/assurance categories.

Before we post a screenshot of the public accounting portion of the salary guide, just a reminder that Robert Half breaks down its starting pay ranges by percentile, and there are four:

  • 25th: New to the role and still developing their skills.
  • 50th: Average experience and has a majority of the relevant skills.
  • 75th: More experience than is typical and has most or all relevant skills.
  • 95th: High level of relevant experience and expertise.

Also, bonuses, benefits, and other forms of compensation aren’t factored into the starting salary projections.

Here are the 2021 starting salaries for roles in tax services and audit/assurance services:If you want to compare these starting salaries to what was in last year’s guide, you can check out our article here. But I did the math on how much starting salaries for each of the positions above are slated to increase in 2021.

Tax services

  • Senior manager and director: 0.44% (25th)/0.55% (50th)/0.46% (75th)/0.46% (90th)
  • Manager: 0.57% (25th)/0.47% (50th)/0.59% (75th)/0.45% (90th)
  • Senior: 0.40% (25th)/0.34% (50th)/0.58% (75th)/0.43% (90th)
  • One to three years: 0.51% (25th)/0.42 (50th)/0.36% (75th)/0.54% (90th)
  • Up to one year: 0.62% (25th)/0.51% (50th)/0.44% (75th)/0.66% (90th)

Audit/assurance services

  • Senior manager and director: 0.45% (25th)/0.56% (50th)/0.47% (75th)/0.47% (90th)
  • Manager: 0.66% (25th)/0.54% (50th)/0.46% (75th)/0.52% (90th)
  • Senior: 0.46% (25th)/0.38% (50th)/0.64% (75th)/0.49% (90th)
  • One to three years: 0.56% (25th)/0.46 (50th)/0.39% (75th)/0.59% (90th)
  • Up to one year: 0.62% (25th)/0.51% (50th)/0.43% (75th)/0.66% (90th)

Yeah, not great. But there is still a demand for public accountants, according to the guide, as “companies, particularly small and midsize businesses, need help to support clients with consumer assistance programs and changing compliance deadlines,” so there’s that.

We’ll update this article once Accounting Principals gets around to releasing its 2021 salary guide for accounting and finance professionals.

Related article:

How Are Public Accounting Salaries Stacking Up for 2020?

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