Compensation Report

Licensure and Credentials Equate to Higher Salary.

Findings from the NSA 2014-2015 Compensation & Benefits Survey Report show salary increases across the board since 2012; practitioners with licensure and credentials reap the greatest benefits.

 

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Licensed/credentialed practitioners with 20 years or more experience earned $18,000 more than not licensed/not credentialed practitioners with similar experience, according to findings from the 2014-2015 Compensation & Benefits of Accountants and Tax Preparers in Public Practice Survey Report (2014-2015 Compensation & Benefits Report).

Conducted on behalf of the National Society of Accountants (NSA), the 2014-2015 Compensation & Benefits Report presents a comprehensive look at salaries and benefits of NSA members nationwide. Now in its 17th edition, the 2014-2015 Income & Fees Survey of NSA members provides an update and record of ongoing information and trends about the compensation and benefits of accountants in public practice in the United States.

NSA Members may download the full 2014-2015 Compensation & Benefits Report through the NSA Library.

Key findings of the 2014-2015 Compensation & Benefits Report include:

  • Salaries for full-time licensed/credentialed practitioners are higher by as much as 35% more than salaries of not licensed/not credentialed practitioners with similar years’ experience.
  • The salary gap between full-time licensed/credentialed practitioners and not licensed/not credentialed practitioners widens over the years, from a low of 20% for practitioners with less than 5 years’ experience to a high of 35% for practitioners with more than 20 years’ experience.
  • Hourly wages for part-time licensed/credentialed practitioners are higher by as much as 50% more than hourly wages of not licensed/not credentialed practitioners with similar years’ experience.
  • The average annual salary for principal/partners increased 5% in 2014 when compared to 2012; however the average of additional compensation decreased 17%.
  • The top three fringe benefits offered to all full-time staff include continuing education/CPE, professional dues, and health insurance.
 The typical Independent Accountant respondent:
  • is a 60.5 year-old male.
  • has been in practice for 27.5 years.
  • is a sole proprietor.
  • is an Enrolled Agent.
  • belongs to about four tax and accounting organizations.
  • has not made any succession plans for their business.
  • is located mostly in the South Atlantic or Pacific  regions

Compensation of Full-Time Employees

Principal/Partner

While the average annual salary for principal/partners increased 5% in 2014 when compared to 2012, the average of additional compensation decreased 17% in 2014—from $33,762 in 2012 down to $28,678 in 2014according to the 2014-2015 Compensation & Benefits Report.

The report also found that the average annual salary of principal/partners varied by type of practice. Top salaries for principal/partners were reported for those whose practice was designated LLC-Partnership ($101,065), Partnership ($98,133), Professional Corporation ($83,627) or C Corporation ($82,451). Principals/Partners whose practice was designated LLC-C Corporation reported the lowest average annual salary of $59,778.

Principals/partners located in the Northeast averaged the highest salaries with New York ranking number 1 with an average annual salary of $102,084, followed by Connecticut and Pennsylvania, reporting average annual salaries of $98,111 and $98,000, respectively. Alabama, reported the lowest compensation with an average annual salary of $31,286

The top three fringe benefits offered to principals/partners include continuing education/CPE (33%), professional dues (31%), and health insurance (23%). The percent of fringe benefits paid by the company to principals/partners was the highest for professional dues (100%), continuing education/CPE (99%), and life insurance (95%). Companies also paid more than 90% of the benefits for cash bonus, automobile, health insurance and long-term disability insurance. IN addition, In addition, 35% of the responding practices offer flex time to principals/partners and nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents offer telecommuting to principals/partners.

Practitioners

The annual salaries for full-time licensed/credentialed practitioners ranged from $40,467 for those with less than 5 years’ experience to $70,923 for those with 20 years or more experience.  In contrast, the annual salaries for full-time not licensed/not credentialed practitioners ranged from $33,276 for those with less than 5 years’ experience to $52,962 for those with 20 years or more experience.

According to the 2014-2015 Compensation & Benefits Report:

  • Licensed credentialed practitioners with 20 years or more experience earned $18,000 more than not licensed/not credentialed practitioners with similar experience, which equates to a 33% difference.
  • Licensed credentialed practitioners with 10-19 years’ experience earned $16,500 more than not licensed/not credentialed practitioners with similar experience, which reflects a 35% difference.
  • Licensed credentialed practitioners with 5-9 years’ experience earned $12,000 more than not licensed/not credentialed practitioners with similar experience, which demonstrates a 30% difference.
  • Licensed credentialed practitioners with less than 5 years’ experience earned $7,000 more than not licensed/not credentialed practitioners with similar experience, which represents a 22% difference.

The 2014 salary data for full-time licensed/credentialed practitioners reflect an average 15% increase over 2012; however, the largest increases were noted for practitioners with 10-19 years’ experience and 5-9 years’ experience, which saw an increase of 18% and 24%, respectively. Practitioners with less than 5 years’ experience and those with 20 years or more experience saw an increase of 9% each over 2012 data.

Data collected on full-time not licensed/not credentialed practitioners reflect an average gain of more than 17% when compared to 2012 data. Salary data for 2014 reflect a 28% increase for practitioners with 20 years or more experience, 25% increase for practitioners with 10-19 years’ experience, 10% increase for practitioners with 5-9 years’ experience, and 8% increase for practitioners with less than 5 years’ experience.

Full-time, licensed/credentialed practitioners with 20 or more years of experience reported the highest average annual salary from Professional Corporations and LLC-Partnerships, averaging $104,566 and $104,500, respectively. In contrast, full-time not licensed/not credentialed practitioners with 20 or more years of experience reported the highest average annual salary of $62,100 operating from a C Corporation, followed by $61,500 from a LLC-Partnership and $58,250 from a Partnership.

The top three fringe benefits offered to other full-time employees (not principals/partners) include continuing education/CPE (20%), professional dues (15%) and health insurance (14%).

The 2014-2015 Compensation & Benefits Report also noted that the company paid, on average, 98% of the benefits for both professional dues and continuing education/CPE and 85% of the health insurance benefits. In addition, 38% of the responding practices offer flex time to other full-time employees.

Compensation of Seasonal and Part-time Employees

The hourly wages for part-time or seasonal licensed/credentialed practitioners ranged from $20.68 for those with the least experience (less than 5 years) to $46.49 for those with 20 years or more experience, whereas the hourly wages for part-time or seasonal not licensed/not credentialed practitioners ranged from $15.76 for those with less than 5 years’ experience) to $33.81 for those with 20 years or more experience.

According to the 2014-2015 Compensation & Benefits Report:

  • Licensed credentialed practitioners with 20 years or more experience earned approximately $13 more per hour than not licensed/not credentialed practitioners with similar experience—a 37% increase.
  • Licensed credentialed practitioners with 10-19 years’ experience earned approximately $13 more per hour than not licensed/not credentialed practitioners with similar experience—a 50% increase.
  • Licensed credentialed practitioners with 10-19 years’ experience earned approximately $9 more per hour than not licensed/not credentialed practitioners with similar experience—a 39% increase.
  • Licensed credentialed practitioners with less than 5 years’ experience earned approximately $5 more per hour than not licensed/not credentialed practitioners with similar experience—a 31% increase.

Part-time/seasonal employees who are licensed/credentialed practitioners with 20 years or more of experience reported the highest hourly wage of $91.25 at LLC-Partnership, followed by $70.18 at C-Corporation. The hourly wage reported dipped substantially to $42.33 and $26.50, respectively, when compared to non-licensed/credentialed practitioners.

 The typical practice:

  • operates as a sole proprietorship.
  • had an annual gross practice in 2013 of $285,605.
  • had a new income of $104,236  in 2013.
  • has 4.2 full-time employees.
  • has 1.9 part-time employees.
  • has 2.0 full-time principals/partners, when a partnership.
  • has salaries/benefits (other than retirement) that represent 44% of total expenses.

Report Background

The 2014-2015 Compensation & Benefits of Accountants and Tax Preparers in Public Practice Survey Report contains cross-tabulations using various characteristics of the firm, such as type of practice, location, community size, gross firm income, and full-time staff. Data is included for state-by-state comparisons as well as national statistics. Additionally, regional breakouts are included based on U.S. Census District definitions. Detailed tables include annual salary and additional cash compensation for full-time employees, hourly wages for part-time employees, and fringe benefits.

The survey was conducted during 2014 and covers actual compensation data for 2013 and 2014. As in past surveys, all 50 states and the District of Columbia are represented in the database.

Data collection, tabulation, and analysis were conducted by Association Research Inc., an independent survey research firm located in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The report is in its 17th edition.

The 2014-2015 Compensation & Benefits of Accountants and Tax Preparers in Public Practice Survey Report was released in October 2015 and is available online at www.nsacct.org.

Jodi L. Goldberg is Vice President and Director, Marketing and Member Services, NSA

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