2019 Salary Outlook and Employment Trends in Finance & Accounting

October 8, 2018

The 2019 hiring outlook is positive for accountants and auditors. The unemployment rate in the finance and accounting fields is lower than the national average, reflecting an eagerness on the part of employers to find new talent.

If you’ve decided a move is right for you, this doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing. It’s still critical to gather as much information as possible on the company and the job so you can make the best decisions for your career. Start by consulting the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance. Here’s an overview of what’s in this comprehensive resource.

Hiring trends for 2019

These are some of the employment trends you can expect in the coming year. The information can help you focus your job search and tailor your accounting resume so you get noticed and hired.

  • New compliance standards require more hiring. Companies need experts to help them comply with and transition to revenue recognition and lease accounting standards from the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Tasks include not only diagnosing the need for and revising policies, but also updating software or installing new systems. Job seekers’ resumes should highlight their experience in revenue accounting, revenue reporting and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reporting.
  • Healthcare is still booming. Hiring remains brisk at the intersection of finance and healthcare. Customer service is key, especially with the recent emphasis on cost transparency. Medical organizations also implement new payment models to bring down expenses while increasing efficiency. Hot jobs today are in medical billing, medical collections, accounts payable and financial, data and business analysis.
  • Digital transformation stimulates demand for expertise. Finance and accounting departments are in the midst of a digital revolution. Departments are harnessing process automation and artificial intelligence for greater accuracy and better analytics. Interestingly, even though machines are taking over more tasks, one of the effects of this technological shift is the need for more full-time and interim staff, not fewer. But the new jobs are more specialized and often require targeted expertise. Top candidates will be those who keep up with emerging trends and can apply them in their jobs.
  • Employers place a priority on organizational culture fit. Hiring someone who doesn’t work out is costly for a company. That’s why employers look at not only what candidates know and can do but also how well they’d mesh with the current team. But it works both ways: you should also evaluate prospective employers’ organizational culture to see if it’s a good fit for you.
  • Companies make use of project professionals. Major events like mergers & acquisitions and large-scale reconciliations don’t happen often, but they’re very labor-intensive when they do. For these one-off projects and smaller ones as well, companies like to bring in interim staff to augment their core workforce and add specialized expertise not found internally. Working as a project consultant may suit you, particularly if you’re a senior-level professional who values flexibility.

In-demand positions for 2019

Hiring is up across the board in finance and accounting, but a few roles stand out. The following are some of the hot jobs for the coming year, along with their midpoint* starting salary:

  • Controller — $118,250
  • Financial analyst, senior — $82,500
  • General accountant, manager — $92,000
  • General accountant, senior — $77,750
  • Payroll manager — $72,750
  • Accountant, 3–5 years of experience — $72,250
  • Internal auditor, 1–3 years of experience — $70,250

*These forecasts are taken from the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance. A midpoint starting salary refers to a candidate with average experience and the necessary skills to get the job done. The role will likely be of average complexity or in a market where the competition for talent is moderate. The stronger your skill set and greater your expertise, the higher your starting compensation could be. See the guide for detailed salary percentiles of more than 200 positions in finance and accounting.

How to negotiate salary

With the hiring environment in your favor, don’t be afraid to counter when you receive a job offer. Use these tips for negotiating a satisfying compensation package:

  • Figure out what you’re worth. To determine what higher number to counter with, consult our 2019 Salary Calculator to customize the starting salary range for your location. The stronger your skill set and work history, the higher you can expect to go along the range.

  • Reiterate your strengths. At interview time, remind the hiring manager of all the expertise, tech savvy and specialized skills you’d bring to the company. Yes, you’ve already mentioned these in your resume and perhaps during earlier interviews, but it never hurts to restate your worth — along with your desire to join their finance team.
  • Have a back-up plan. Sometimes the manager simply doesn’t have the wiggle room to offer you a higher salary. In that case, negotiate other aspects of the job offer. Perhaps ask for a signing bonus, another week of vacation or the ability to telecommute a few times a week.

Make 2019 the year you take the next big step along your career path. To help direct your way, take the Salary Guide with you.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at www.roberthalf.com/blog.

Robert Half and its three financial divisions — Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Robert Half Management Resources — are the exclusive partner for financial staffing services through the AICPA Member Discount Program. Get the 2019 Salary Guide and save on specialized staffing services for your business. Learn more about the Robert Half AICPA member discount program.