Accounting Employment Information
Accounting Industry Overview
While about 100,000 firms with combined annual revenues of approximately $120 billion make up the accounting services industry, employment in accounting typically involves working for just one of three sizes of employers:
- The Big Four accounting firms -- Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG and Ernst & Young -- that together offer about 650,000 accounting jobs and bill over $100 billion annually
- Midsize US accounting firms, including Grant Thornton, McGladrey & Pullen and BDO Seidman
- Smaller accounting and auditing firms that primarily serve specialized industries and local businesses
The accounting services market is fragmented: The 50 largest accounting companies hold just less than 50 percent of the market, according to Hoovers.Other jobs in accounting can be found at large accounting-related companies such as payroll services provider Automatic Data Processing (ADP) and tax preparer H&R Block, Hoovers says.
Accounting Job Market
Accounting job opportunities are plentiful in the US and expected to stay that way. In 2010, there were more than 1.2 million US accounting and auditing workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Auditing and accounting employment is expected to grow by 16 percent between 2010 and 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations, the BLS reports. Nearly 191,000 new accounting jobs are expected to open up over that time period.
Small and midsize public accounting firms made big cutbacks during the recession, driving many people to shift their accounting careers into the corporate sector. Now that the economy is recovering, public accounting firms are looking to upgrade their staff, creating openings in higher-level accounting positions.
While public accounting hiring is picking up for positions at all levels, professionals at the senior-accountant level are particularly in demand, according to Robert Half International?s 2012 Salary Guide. Demand is also strong for tax professionals, especially those with international tax backgrounds. To bring recent accounting graduates into the profession, Big Four firms have stepped up their campus recruiting efforts. The hardest accounting jobs to fill include controllers, internal auditors, accountants, tax accountants, cost accountants, auditors and accounting operations personnel, according to the Robert Half report.
Median annual accountant and auditor salaries were $62,850 in May 2011, according to the BLS. The middle half earned between $48,920 and $83,210. The top 10 percent earned nearly $110,000.