Accountant Salary

Author: Category: Category: Job Sectors Date: 5th February, 2014

Salary and Career Progression Guide For Being an Accountant

Last year’s Summer 2013 AGR Graduate Recruitment Survey was showing median starting salaries for accountants to be £29,000.

>> View all Average Graduate Starting Salaries Here

Blond accountant sat at desk

Chartered Accountancy or Management Accountancy

Graduates need to decide if they want to work in Public Practice, which means working for an accountancy firm like KMPG, providing professional services, (audits and governance), to corporate clients, OR whether they prefer to work within a company providing financial management and analysis for the managerial team.


Typically chartered accountants working in UK accounting practices will have one of two qualifications. The first of these is a professional CA qualification (Chartered  Accountant from ICAS, which is one of the leading professional bodies in the UK. The other qualification route that chartered accountants may followed is the ACA qualification which leads to them becoming an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.

If you are looking to work in-house in a financial management role you can of course take the ICAS  or ICAEW qualification route and many graduates from these bodies work in industry. However, CIMA or the Chartered Institute of Management Accountancy qualification is becoming an increasingly popular qualification option for accountants working in-house. CIM A have created their accountancy qualification so that it provides graduates with a stronger all round understanding of business, meaning they can contribute better to the organization and be a more effective business partner.

Salaries and Career Grades

As we mentioned above starting salaries for accountants are around £29,000 per year, but you can expect the higher salaries to be found amongst the big four accounting firms and in the London area.

If you look at the Hays Accounting Survey for 2013, you’ll see that accounting salaries vary dramatically by geography, and as a trainee accountant you could earn anything from around £18,000 to about £28,000 per year.

After completing your first level training you will become a part-qualified accountant and the Hays surveys shows that you can then be earning anything from around £25,000 to £34,000 per year.

As a finalist which is the next level of qualification prior to become fully qualified, you will be earning anything from £28,000 up to about £42,000.

Once you are qualified the sky is the limit with accounting salaries. As a newly qualified accountant with up to 2 years post qualification experience in the South West of England (which typically represents the UK salary norms) a typical salary is around £36,000 to £45,000.

Once you have 2 to 4 years post qualification experience, you can expect to be earning anything from £45,000 to £55,000 per year.

And then when you have five years post qualification experience you can be earning anything from £55,000 up to £120,000 a year. Here you might be working as a Finance Manager, Systems Accountant, Management Accountant. But of course if you want to break into the £70K salary region you’ll need to progress into a Financial Controller role for which you’ll typically need around 5 years post qualification experience and 3 to 5 years management experience.

Expect to spend two to five years as a Financial Controller before being ready to be accepted into the coveted Financial Director role where you can be earning anything from £70,000 up to around £120,000 per year.

If you do prove to be a high flying Financial Director you may get the opportunity to move into a Group FD role for a multinational, but you will need at least 25 years post qualification experience typically. The sky is really the limit for salaries here as the Hays survey shows that you could be earning anything from £200,000 a year to £500,000 a year as  Group FD

Regional and Industry Variations in Salary

Typically, if you want to earn the highest salaries in accounting you will look for jobs in the South East and Greater London area within large private firms. You’ll find that salaries are generally lower in regional areas, and within public sector and third sector firms. 

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