7 Figure Difference: CPAs Earn $1 Million More

7 Figure Difference: CPAs Earn $1 Million More

Does getting your CPA mean that you’ll earn more than your non-certified counterparts? The answer is definitely yes, but exactly how much more is tough to say. Before we delve into the numbers, the “typical” career path for people who pass the CPA exam varies quite a bit. Regardless, if you become a CPA, over the course of your career, you could be earning well north of $1 million more than if you never started that CPA review course.

But, since you’re likely a numbers person, why don’t begin to examine some of the data available to us.


CPA Salaries vs. Accountant Salaries

If you’re an accountant, the projected career earnings are still pretty high. Over the course of your career, you will be well into the six-figure salary range, especially if you take on a senior management position. In fact, even if you hover only around the Senior Auditor position and don’t take on any management role, you should be earning north of $5 million for a 40-year career (this number can be adjusted upward if you account for inflation).

If you’re a CPA, the same intangibles are going to play into your overall salary, but you can definitely expect an upward trajectory toward the top positions within the company. You should be in an upper level role 10 years into your career, meaning you’ll be earning $10,000-$20,000 more per year, at a minimum. In fact, that number could be $50,000-$60,000 per year higher if you’re at the senior manager level. If you take that CPA and turn it into a corner office or a c-suite position, there’s really no telling how much more you’ll be making.

The point is, at a minimum, you’re likely going to be making $1,000,000 more than not certified accountants if you get your CPA. Becker analyzed the 2017 Robert Half Salary Guide and found that CPAs will earn over $1 million more than non-CPA designated accountants. Wiley Efficient Learning did a similar analysis and found that accountants will earn $1,000,000 less than their CPA counterparts.


You’re in the Money

It really comes down to asking yourself why you wouldn’t get a CPA. Sure, there’s some expense involved with getting one—it ends up being $3,000-$7,000 when all is said and done—but your long-term earnings are drastically higher than if you were never to pursue the certification.

Even just the initial bump in salary is significant. When you look at Indeed’s breakdown of accounting salaries, CPAs outperform any of the other accounting jobs. There’s such a higher ceiling for CPAs, but even the initial bump in salary should be enough to motivate you to get out there and start studying for the REG and AUD sections right now!


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