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Career Levels in Accounting

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Accounting is a rewarding career field with ample opportunity for advancement. If you like numbers and minute details, then accounting could be for you. Accounting offers excellent earning potential. Entry-level accountants with a bachelor's degree earn about $45,000 a year, and the pay increases to well into the six figures with experience and more responsibility. Many chief financial officers earn upward of $1 million dollars annually. Like all professions, accounting has many career levels you can aspire to.

Staff Accountant

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The staff accountant is responsible for most of the entry-level work. This includes bank reconciliations, monitoring cash balances and entering payables and receivables. The starting annual salary for staff accountants is about $45,000, according to Robert Half International. The average annual salary for staff accountants with two years of experience is $52,000, according to

Senior Accountant

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The senior accountant is responsible for reconciling general ledger accounts, assisting with the monthly close, more advanced financial analysis, posting to the general ledger, variance analysis and preparing all journal entries. The senior accountant generally has four or more years of experience and earns an average of $66,000 per year.

Accounting Managers or Assistant Controllers

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Accounting managers or assistant controllers generally have eight or more years of experience and have taken on light supervisory duties. They perform advanced accounting tasks in addition to managing accounting or accounting clerk staff. They are responsible for the senior and staff accountants' work. They are in charge of general ledger accounting as well as preparing financial statements and management reports. Accounting managers perform complex and advanced financial and account analysis. They often have check-signing authority. They manage staff performance, schedules and reviews. Account managers earn an average of $71,000 to $79,000 per year, depending on the size of the organization, according to

Division Controllers

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Although many companies only have one division controller, larger companies may have several. The division controllers are responsible for all of the accounting work for their division. They are responsible for financial reporting, financial and managerial statements as well as the monthly and year-end close process. They review all of the complex work and report directly to upper management. The average salary for a division controller is $81,000, according to

Corporate Controllers

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Corporate controllers report directly to the CFO. They are in charge of the accounting in all divisions and directly supervise the divisional controllers. They are responsible for consolidated financial statements and consolidated reporting. They are also in charge of SEC compliance in public companies. They are considered part of the executive team and assist in the annual budget process and major financial decisions. The average salary for a corporate controller is $88,000, according to, but many earn more than $200,000 a year.