Become a CPA

Not only do CPAs receive higher salaries throughout their careers, but bonuses are often paid to those who achieve certification. For example, the Big 4 were reported to be offering bonuses of $5,000 for passing the CPA exam in the first year. In the private and governmental sectors, promotions to the next pay grade are often accomplished through obtaining professional certification.

Focus your career on higher paying industries

Salary levels do vary by industry.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the 2018 median salaries for accountants in the highest paying industries as follows:

IndustryMedian Annual Wages
Finance and insurance$74,690
Management of companies and enterprises$73,180
Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services$70,640

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accountants and Auditors.


Doing a little research when job-hunting and before accepting a job offer will help to ensure that you are being paid at an appropriate level.

Continually add to your skills and knowledge

The accounting profession, along with many others, is experiencing rapid change due to technology. Those professionals who stay ahead of the curve by continually adding to their skills and knowledge, particularly in digital transformation developments, will be best positioned for promotion and raises.

Consider a graduate degree

Due to the CPA exam requirement for 150 credit hours, many candidates obtain a master’s degree before sitting for the exam. This strategy adds additional compensation as well as opportunities for career enhancement.

As proof, in 2015, Georgetown University reported a median salary of $91,000 for someone with a Master of Accountancy degree compared to $69,000 for those with only a bachelor’s degree. Robert Half has also reported an increase of 5 to 15 percent in salary levels for graduate degrees while the Bureau of Labor Statistics recognized a graduate degree “wage premium.”

The benefits of a graduate degree, however, go beyond compensation considerations.  Graduate degree holders experience more professional opportunities due to their enhanced skills in analysis, critical thinking, and big picture understanding. Graduate degrees may also offer the ability to develop expertise in specialized areas, e.g., information system and forensic accounting.

Get a Scholarship

Success is often assumed by association, so being able to prove to employers that you’re in good company either as a scholarship/award recipient or a member of an honor society is great way to set yourself up for a higher salary. While it may seem like just another line item on LinkedIn or your resume, it helps to go a long way to build your credibility – so be sure to pursue such opportunities and claim them if and when you have the chance. Besides, getting money to help pay for tuition is always a great bonus.

Select the best CPA Review Course for you

How will this help you earn a higher salary? Well, when you work with the best CPA Review Course, the chances of you passing the CPA Exam on your first try – in other words, much faster – go way up. And being able to demonstrate to your employer that you are committed to becoming a CPA and put in the work to pass the exam quickly and on the first try goes a long way in helping you build your case for better compensation. Not all CPA review courses are the same, so be sure to pick one that offers the most comprehensive and thorough education across platforms and learning styles.

Overall, earning a higher salary comes down to you and the work you’re willing to put into studying and passing the CPA exam. But it’ll be worth it in the end because the more you earn starting out, the more you’ll earn later on as you receive raises and bonuses. So what are you waiting for? Get started today on your path to becoming a high paid CPA.

Want to know more about how much you can earn in different roles and sectors as a CPA? Visit our CPA Salary Resource Page to see your earning potential.

See What I could Earn as a CPA.