Accountants are highly skilled professionals who work within an organisation’s financial operation to manage and analyse business accounts and prepare financial reports. It is a key role that ensures a business’ functions are efficient and sustainable, as well as being able to offer financial advice. As a result, the skillset is in high demand, meaning accountants are well paid and sought after.

For those looking to make a jump into the industry or working to climb the ranks, we have created a guide to help you get an idea of the remuneration you should be receiving, according to your experience and location.

Average accountant salary ranges

Salaries in the accountancy sector vary depending on the sector, location, qualifications, size, and type of organisation. Generally, larger employers tend to pay more than smaller ones and capital markets also attract the greatest salaries.

Similarly, it is common in this field for employers to combine benefits into professionals’ salary packages. For example, many include medical insurance, car allowances, pensions, bonuses, and profit-sharing schemes which can ultimately increase earning potential.

Here are average accountant salary ranges for some roles in the profession:

  • Accounts assistant salary - £22,500 to £33,800

  • Credit controller salary - £22,000 to £26,500

  • Commercial accountant salary - £37,800 to £47,400

  • Management accountant salary - £34,100 to £44,500

  • Payroll manager salary - £36,300 to £45,900

  • Bookkeeper salary - £23,800 to £29,100

For more information on accounting salaries, including regional breakdowns, trackable trends and future projections, use our accountancy and finance salary guide.

Specialist accounting roles and salaries

You may wish to specialise in a certain accountancy discipline either at the beginning of your career or as you progress through it. One of the easiest ways to specialise is by training within an accountancy practice which has expertise in one of these areas such as tax, forensics and audit.

Salaries for these vertical markets of accountancy vary depending on your experience and position within a practice. Unqualified accountants just starting out in their career will be paid very differently to partners and directors within a firm who have specialised for decades.

Remuneration for these disciplines includes:

  • Tax accountant salaries: £15,000 - £260,000

  • Forensic accountant salaries: £15,000 - £180,000

  • Audit & assurance salaries: £15,000 - £207,000

  • Corporate finance salaries: £15,000 - £310,000

To find out more about salary progression in specialist accounting roles, download our Reed Accountancy & Finance Practice salary guide now.

Benefit packages for accountancy professionals

A base salary is not all that an accountancy employer can offer. Professionals are likely to receive benefits on top of their salary as an incentive to join a company. While not every business offers all of the following benefits, most will provide a combination of them:

  • Annual leave allowance of 25 – 28 days per annum

  • A pension scheme with a contribution from the company

  • Maternity and paternity leave

  • Life assurance

  • Access to a directory of discounts, such as retail brands and gym memberships

  • Private healthcare, including free eyesight testing and dental insurance

  • Childcare allowances

  • Mental and wellbeing support

Learning and development

In the accountancy sector, there is an emphasis to continue with professional development throughout your career, as it not only helps you keep up to date with the latest business trends and research in the field, but will aid in progressing your career.

To support this, many professionals choose to become a chartered accountant, which includes becoming a member of an accountancy body, such as ICAEW, ICAS or ACCA, which are highly recognised across the country. Chartered accountant salaries in the UK will be higher than those received by accountants who are unqualified, part qualified or qualified by experience.

Additionally, an employer should provide in-house training on both technical and general skills and opportunities to specialise in specific areas, to help you develop professionally.

Career progression

Most accountants begin their careers in a private firm to build up their experience and typically train to achieve a CA or ACA qualification in the first couple of years. After gaining a good base knowledge, qualified accountants have the opportunity to specialise within a sector or financial area. Here are some pathways to consider:

Internal auditor

Internal auditors play a key role across an entire business. The role consists of providing an independent and objective evaluation of a company’s financial and operations activities to identify any risks, and then consult to improve processes and systems if necessary. They are important for the survival of a firm and report to the board or senior management.

Management accounting

Management accounting is the process of preparing reports about a business’ operation using past data to ultimately help managers make long and short-term decisions to support their goals, which can be both non-financial and financial. The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is the largest organisation for these professionals and this pathway can often lead to becoming a finance manager or director.

Finance controller

Finance controllers or finance managers are accountable for an organisation’s financial ‘health’. They work closely with senior team members to highlight and provide a strategic plan to help drive profit and reduce any risks, while also being involved in project work that involves taxes, mergers, acquisitions, development, and planning. A finance controller’s career trajectory often leads to them becoming chief financial officers within five to 10 years, depending on experience and qualifications.

Group accounting

Group accountants play a vital role in helping complex businesses stay profitable. Their main objective is to ensure a company is compliant with the right procedures and are tracked to maintain sustainability. Often, they will be involved in consolidating financial statements and analysing a firm’s overall performance, which gives them the experience to progress to chief financial officer.

Financial analyst

A finance analyst is someone who works with people across a firm to gather data and information to make forecasts, projections, and recommendations in the shape of a report or presentation. Using this information, they will identify financial issues and gaps in a business and problem solve to develop recommendations and insights to increase profitability and grow a firm. Some of the most popular areas for a financial analyst are in investment banking, corporate development, and treasury.

To find more in-depth data about salaries for accounting roles, download our free 2022 accountancy and finance salary guide now.