The deciding factor in my choice of career was because of the CPA salary. It’s not the highest salary you can get straight out of college but it’s still pretty good. And, a partner’s salary is not too shabby either!
Before you judge me for being completely shallow and caring only about the money, hear me out. Besides public accounting, my second choice for a career was to be a high school teacher. Specifically, I wanted to continue coaching high school volleyball.
During my first two years in college, I was an assistant high school volleyball coach and I loved every minute of it. It felt so good to be a positive influence on young men and women. It encouraged me to be encouraging.
A teacher’s starting salary is not very good. The retirement and health benefits of teachers are typically very good but that didn’t concern me at the time. I was more worried about the starting salary and quickness of increase.
Because of the higher CPA salary as compared to the teacher salary, I chose to go to school for accounting. While the summers would have been great to have off, I chose the higher CPA salary.
Going with the CPA salary instead of the teacher salary has worked out pretty well. I love what I do and I’m paid well for doing it. I’m not rich and won’t get rich from my CPA salary but I will make a very good living.
One of the things that help with making a good living on the CPA salary is the annual pay increases. Raises can range into the double digits. That just doesn’t happen in a teaching career. Don’t misunderstand me, raises are not always in the double digits but it’s not (historically speaking) unusual. Annual increases like that definitely help when trying to support three kids!
Here is a disclaimer: The CPA salary will vary depending on the size, location and profitability of the public accounting firm. Smaller firms will not be able to pay what larger firms will.
It’s disappointing how much I hear people complaining about what they are being paid. Maybe they aren’t paid as much as they want but we are paid pretty well. It has been said that a CPA isn’t paid what he’s worth until he’s at his third firm. That may be true. Accountants can really get paid well to jump firms.
In my opinion, though, being happy where you work is worth a lot more than the increase in salary one can get from jumping to another firm. Wouldn’t you rather be happy than get paid a little more? We need to learn to be content with what we have. The CPA salary is just another example of that.
My pay is the eighth reason I love public accounting. The following, which I’ve covered in previous posts, are also reasons why I love public accounting: