Jake Houston By: Jake Houston
How Much Does a CPA Make

If you are someone who likes mathematics with a flair for business and economics, you may be considering a career in accounting. One of the most common careers for someone interested in accounting is becoming a certified public accountant. 

Just like with all jobs, your biggest question is likely, “how much does a CPA make?”

Determining a CPA salary is done by considering a couple of factors such as level of experience, area of residence, and amount of schooling. However, becoming a CPA doesn’t always come easily. 

Keep reading to learn about things like CPA starting salary, CPA average salary, and more.

Summary: Learn about things like CPA starting salary, CPA average salary, and more. If you are thinking about taking the CPA exam, consider using one of the best CPA review courses.

While most higher-paying jobs are difficult to achieve due to rigorous hours both in and out of the classroom. Becoming a CPA is no different. Here are some of the minimum requirements to become a CPA:

  • 150 completed hours of college-level education
  • At least a bachelor’s degree
  • Complete one accredited course in professional standards and responsibilities (PSR)
  • Pass a background check
  • Get a minimum of 75 on your CPA exam
  • Apply for and receive a CPA license

If you want to see how you would do on the exam if you took it today, consider our CPA exam practice questions.

Other helpful things would be gaining experience in any form of accounting you can during your summers off from college or as an internship during your time in college. Most guides suggest around a year of experience with totals of 2,000 hours of real-world experience.

Your CPA will need to be renewed every three years which requires people to complete around 120 continuing professional education (CPE) hours. At least 20 hours have to be completed every year in your three-year period before renewal.

Hopefully, you will begin to understand the answer to how much does a CPA make through their requirements for schooling and experience. You can read more about how to become a CPA.

The biggest thing to know when looking at accounting work vs. CPA jobs is that CPAs are a form of accountant. While all CPAs will be accountants, not all accountants will be CPAs. There are four main differences between accountants and CPAs.

Licensing

CPAs complete a minimum of 150 college-level hours, and many of those hours are required to be in higher-level accounting, auditing, and business-core classes. 

CPAs then gain experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA then they are required to take a test that includes information on business, tax, auditing, and general accounting skills. Then they continue their education to be ready for renewal every three years.

Fiduciary Responsibilities

CPAs are considered fiduciaries; therefore, they have to act in the best interests of their clients. They also perform financial statement audits of most businesses to make sure the statements are fair and issue the appropriate reports.

Knowledge of Taxes and Regulations

Due to more required hours as well as a continuation of educational hours, CPAs are able to provide clients with more advantages than a regular accountant when it comes to filing tax returns. CPAs have a deeper knowledge of tax codes, so they can help you understand your taxes better. 

If you are required to go before the IRS in audit support, your CPA can also represent you while a normal accountant cannot.

Code of Ethics

CPAs are held to a higher standard due to their increased schooling and qualifications. They are required to stick to a strict code of ethics while also meeting higher state standards for operation.

How Much Does a CPA Make

These higher requirements may explain why a CPA salary is higher than most other accountants. Next, we will discuss the difference in average salaries for CPAs and other accountants.

There are six different areas that accountants can work in with and without a CPA certification. For each career choice, the wage differs a little because of the work you will be doing. Overall, the average accountant’s salary is $77,250.

For bookkeeping, tax preparation, and payroll services the average accountant’s salary is $77,080. 

All accountants working in government positions make an average of $77,290.

Those who manage companies and enterprises make an annual average of $78,540.

Any accountant working doing insurance and finance work makes an average salary of $79,310

If you start as a junior tax associate or accountant, your average salary will be $56,780 per year.

Here is where we finally answer how much does a CPA make. Any given CPA salary is decided by the level of education and experience. 

Entry-Level CPA Salary

A CPA who is beginning their career as a CPA will earn a CPA starting salary. Entry-level pay is often lower than the salary more experienced workers get, no matter what the job is. The average CPA starting salary is anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000.

Senior-Level CPA Salary

Just like an entry-level CPA, a senior-level CPA will be paid differently because of their experience. A senior-level CPA is anyone with five or more years of work as a CPA and often makes anywhere from $66,000 to $111,000 all based on experience.

CPA Manager or Director Salary

Because of the duties of their jobs, top executive CPAs earn between $60,300 to $179,520. Chief executives easily make six figures with a median salary of $179,520. With a managerial degree, your CPA accountant salary will be higher because you have higher education and can do more because of it. 

Managerial positions often come to people who have plenty of experience, as well.

CPA Accountant Salary

The CPA average salary across the United States is $79,520. Because of their special licensing and rigorous academic work, a CPA accountant salary is higher than that of other accountants.

While experience and level of education can affect how much a CPA earns yearly, where the CPA lives can also change how much they make. Here is some information about how much a CPA earns based on the state they live in:

These are just averages for every state and people who may have higher education, more experience, or fill a managerial position may see an increase in pay from the average salaries given for each state.

State of Residence Yearly CPA Salary Hourly CPA Salary
Washington D.C. $103,930 $49.96
New York $98,650 $47.43
New Jersey $91,960 $44.21
Virginia $85,720 $41.21
California $83,910 $40.34
Massachusetts $83,800 $40.29
Connecticut $83,680 $40.23
Rhode Island $83,340 $40.07
Colorado $82,930 $39.87
Washington $81,970 $39.41
Maryland $81,920 $39.38
Delaware $80,010 $38.47
Georgia $79,690 $38.31
Texas $79,360 $38.15
Alaska $79,300 $38.13
North Carolina $78,500 $37.74
Illinois $77,640 $37.33
Pennsylvania $76,720 $36.88
Michigan $75,170 $36.14
Vermont $74,640 $35.88
Oklahoma $74,130 $35.64
Minnesota $73,590 $35.38
Arizona $73,450 $35.31
Ohio $73,380 $35.28
Oregon $73,180 $35.18
New Hampshire $72,750 $34.98
Florida $72,630 $34.92
Alabama $72,120 $34.67
Indiana $71,690 $34.47
Tennessee $71,460 $34.36
Wisconsin $71,260 $34.26
Nebraska $70,420 $33.86
Maine $70,090 $33.70
Iowa $69,480 $33.40
Missouri $69,160 $33.25
Kansas $68,780 $33.07
Utah $68,560 $32.96
Nevada $68,560 $32.96
South Carolina $67,740 $32.57
Kentucky $67,660 $32.53
South Dakota $67,470 $32.44
West Virginia $67,340 $32.38
Arkansas $66,450 $31.95
Wyoming $66,360 $31.90
Louisiana $66,230 $31.84
Montana $66,170 $31.81
Hawaii $66,020 $31.74
Idaho $65,440 $31.46
Mississippi $65,420 $31.45
New Mexico $64,770 $31.14
North Dakota $64,260 $30.89

Do CPAs make a lot of money?

CPAs can easily make a six-figure salary, especially if they are working at the senior level. Entry-level CPA jobs make an average of $40,000 to $60,000. Once working in the field, CPAs are able to make a decent living.

Is getting a CPA worth it?

The highest-earning non-CPA accountant makes $79,310 annually while the annual average for a CPA accountant is $79,520. Putting in some extra work to become certified as a CPA will likely earn you around $200 more per year, and more than likely it will earn you so much more than that.

Can you make millions as a CPA?

Though it isn’t impossible to earn millions annually as a CPA, it is unlikely. A small number of CPAs make between $1 million and $2 million, and even fewer CPAs earn more than $2 million per year. However, you will likely make a six-figure salary before you retire if you continue to work as a CPA the whole time.

Is being a CPA a stressful job?

CPAs that work in taxes will be required to work long hours during tax time in order to complete the work they need for tax season. Also, higher pay usually equals more responsibilities no matter what career you are in.

If you are someone who enjoys math, accounting, and taxes, you may experience a slightly busier schedule than most when becoming a CPA, but it should remain a manageable level of stress.

Is becoming a CPA a good career?

CPA jobs are always in high demand across the country, so you will not find yourself in need of work if you are a certified CPA. If you are someone who doesn’t want to work for a big corporation, it is also a career you can build on your own with a bit of legwork.

It’s a flexible career that could help you make a high five-figure or even a six-figure salary.