In February 2022, inflation in the United States had reached a 40-year high of 7.9%; the last time inflation was this bad many of you weren’t even alive so think of this as Halley’s Comet, one day in the far future you may say “I’m there.” was! You don’t need us to tell you that your money buys less these days of course, assuming you’ve visited a grocery store and/or filled up your gas tank in the last, oh, several months.
With the big resignation underway across all sectors and the critical pipeline issue contributing to the shortage of accountants, the profession is in trouble. Salaries have barely budged in years, and it’s a well-established fact that more lucrative industries (medicine, law, and IT to name a few) lure potential accounting students away from majoring. While years ago business students saw a career in accounting as a resilient career even in times of recession, today’s students may have heard too many stories about long hours, the stress and not enough pay and benefits to make up for it. As you’re about to see from the salary reports we’ve shared with you over the past few months, these rumors are actually true.
The Big 4 compensation discussions are a few months away, but in the meantime, we’ve put together a collection of 2022 accounting salary projections from various talent and recruiting companies and collated them here for you to peruse at your convenience. way. We’ll update it if we have more information and monitor the Big 4 2022 compensation data as new numbers are released later this year.
Let’s start with the salary guide to beat all salary guides: Robert Half’s 2022 accounting and finance salary guide. According to the stalwart Bob, the starting salary in each of the 10 public accountant positions included in the 2022 salary guide is expected to increase by an average of 1.4% to 2.6%. Starting salaries in tax and audit are up very slightly compared to 2021:
- Senior manager/director: 2%
- Manager: 2%
- Senior tax accountant: 1.4%
- Tax accountant, 1 to 3 years of experience: 1.6%
- Junior tax accountant: 2.6%
Audit and certification services
- Senior manager/director: 1.6%
- Manager: 1.4%
- Senior auditor: 1.6%
- Auditor, 1 to 3 years of experience: 2.2%
- Novice listener: 1.6%
In addition to general numbers, the Robert Half report has a nifty feature that lets you search by location, so if you’re in a city like San Francisco where you’re paid 42% more than the national average but have nothing left in your checking account after selling a kidney to pay rent, you can check the report to see if you might be able to leave that Tenderloin studio this year. We’ve pulled numbers from five expensive accounting hubs — San Francisco, New York, Washington, DC, Boston, and Seattle — to get a look at projected accounting salaries for 2022 for HCOL cities if you’re interested.
Often overlooked in any LOC discussion, this is the low end of that, but don’t worry, we’ve also looked at projected salaries for eight cities at the average cost of living.
Regarding the cost of living, we also have 10 cities where the starting salary in public accounting will be the highest in 2022 and the depressing cousin of this position 10 cities where the starting salary in public accounting will be the highest lowest in 2022.
The entire Robert Half 2022 Accounting and Finance Salary Guide is worth reading if you have a free afternoon and consider salary projections a hobby, given that the responsibilities of your day-to-day job probably make real hobbies somewhat impractical.
Next, we also have the Century Group 2022 Salary Guide. The report presents projected salary ranges for nine positions – four in audit and five in tax – broken down by experience, from those with little or no experience in the role to highly experienced and well-accredited professionals. These salary projections are also sorted by company size by revenue of $1-50 million to those with more than $1 billion in revenue. These salary projections cover the following nine positions:
- Audit Partner
- Senior Audit Manager
- Audit Manager
- senior auditor
- tax partner
- Senior tax manager
- Tax Manager
- Tax Senior
- Tax staff
According to our comment section, Century Group numbers may be a little off, let’s remember that these are just projections and each of these companies has their own methods for calculating their data and if you wanted to make a career wondering if the numbers are accurate or not you should have been an account – oh, whatever.
In the meantime, we also have data from the Accounting Principals 2022 salary guide. The AP guide was released in November 2021 and estimates that accounting salaries are expected to increase by 6.4% this year. At the time the report debuted, inflation was not as high as it was a few months later, now that it’s caught up, accounting firms will have to offer raises above 7% for their professionals to break even and who knows where we’ll be in the fall when the Big 4 comp updates roll out. Let’s not worry too much about it just yet, rest assured whatever the number is, I’m sure you’ll be disappointed enough.
Released last October, we also have the Alliance Resource Group 2022 Accounting and Finance Salary Guide. You will find the 2022 salary outlook for 11 positions within public accounting (six in tax and five in audit), with a salary range for each position. The big takeaway is this quote from the report:
As wage increases return to pre-pandemic levels across all sectors, rising prices mean higher wages may not keep pace with inflation.
Good to know. And companies are wondering why they’re struggling to recruit and retain talent.
Hays’ US salary projections report released in November doesn’t look much better. The Hays guide covers tax and audit roles in the following seven states plus metro Washington, D.C. (I almost typed DMV here, but remembered that people who don’t live in the DMV think you are talking about something completely different when you mention this):
- Washington D.C.; Maryland; and Virginia
- New York
Some roles in the Hays report are exactly the same as the previous year, while New York’s tax managers can rejoice as they top the raises with a mouth-watering 44.7% pay rise from 2021.
Still recovering from the layoffs and pay cuts of the early days of the pandemic, companies are finding themselves increasingly battered by the talent issue. Looking at some of these projections, I think we can see why people are running away from public accounting at the rate they are.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
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