The amount of money people earn is such a taboo subject that it must be very frustrating for people considering a career or trying to understand if their current career is right for them. They really want to know what they might be able to look forward to earning in their career, but they aren’t allowed to ask, so they just rely on (often incorrect) perceptions and hope for the best.
I can actually remember deciding on accounting as a career based on my abilities in mathematics, discussions with my business studies teacher, and some vague concept that accountants can make “good money”. It’s still a pretty poor way to make one of the biggest decisions in your life, especially when money can have such an effect on your future.
So I began my career as a trainee/cadet accountant while still completing my university degree, and despite coming from a very low base, the payrises were quite good as a percentage. Even so, I never really knew for sure where it could go financially beyond maybe the next 2-3 years until I made it into management, and even then not all managers will be privy to this information.
But what a difference it would make to be able to actually have some idea of what your salary could be for a given career before you start that career?
Well, there is a way to find this out for many careers, and this way is via salary surveys that are prepared by recruitment agents. Such surveys are prepared based on placements that participating recruitment agents make, and are typically listed based on regions in which the employees work, and their level/experience within the organisations.
I didn’t even discover that such surveys existed until about 2006, but once I discovered the most commonly used survey for accountants in Australia (the Hays Salary Survey) it was a huge eye-opener.
So what does an accountant in public practice in Australian earn anyway?
While anyone can request the survey via the www.hays.com.au website, I thought I would set out a summary for NSW Sydney & Regional accountants. This information is available for all states, but I have just picked NSW as Australia’s most populous state (at about 7.439m people as at September 2013).
Please note that the amounts disclosed in this table are in AU$’000 inclusive of any bonuses and superannuation guarantee (between 9.25% and 9.5% in this period).
So as you can see there is plenty of money to be made in an accounting career, and how quickly one progresses through the levels really does depend on each person.
So is accounting a good career financially?
I would say that it absolutely is. It can be very hard work, with a lot of pressure, and a timesheet system in most firms that leaves you with nowhere to hide (a huge difference from many other professionals), but I will leave that for another post.
So, now you know about the financial side of being a public practice accountant, you just need to work out whether all of the other aspects of the career are for you!