Big 4 Accounting Firms Salary 2018-01-16T03:45:06+00:00

Big 4 Accounting Firms Salary 2018

One of the big questions people ask when they consider a big 4 gig is whether the salary is good. They ask this because they know the hours can be very long when working at the big 4 firms. What we’ve put together is a resource where you can find all relevant big 4 accounting firms salary information.

CPA Starting Salary

The starting salary of a CPA is around $52,000 per year. How does this compare with a public accountant at one of the big 4 firms? See our analysis below.

PwC Starting Salaries

The starting salary at PwC is about $56,000 for audit associates.

PwC’s starting salary for tax associates is $62,000

PwC’s starting salary for advisory associates is $65,000

EY Starting Salaries

EY’s starting salary is $64,000 for EY audit associates

EY’s starting salary is $67,000 for EY tax associates

EY’s starting salary is $65,000 for EY advisory associates

Deloitte Starting Salaries

Deloitte’s starting salary for a Tax Associate is $61,000

Deloitte’s starting salary for an Audit Staff is 57,000

Deloitte’s starting salary for a consultant is $70,000

KPMG Starting Salaries

KPMG’s starting salary is $62,000 for tax associates

KPMG’s starting salary is $65,000 for advisory associates

KPMG’s starting salary is $57,000 for audit associates

Base on the data above it appears that all the big 4 are pretty even on how they pay their starting candidates. Those starting candidates earn well above the average CPA starting salary. In many cases, starting associates at the big 4 accounting firms earn more than the average CPA.

CPA Salary

First up we’ll be talking about what the typical CPA salary is and then we’ll compare that to the largest big 4 firms below.

The median salary for a CPA according to payscale is $63,135. The average salary for a CPA according to payscale is $62,140. According to glassdoor the average CPA salary is 73,825.

According to the bureau of labor statistics the average median pay for accountants is $68,150.

According to the bureau the lowest 10% of accountants earned $42,410 while the top 10% earned $120,910.

The highest paying common occupations for accountants were in Finance and insurance. In finance and insurance accountants make $72,950.

In management of companies and enterprises, accountants make $70,790.

How does the average CPA salary compare to a big 4 accounting salary? Check out the big 4 accounting salary comparison below to find out.


Big 4 Salary Comparison

PwC Salary

We will be analyzing PwC’s salary by location. We will focus on the manager and senior associate titles as those are the titles with the most reliable data.

PwC San Jose Office Salaries

PwC Audit Manager in San Jose – $121,000 per year

PwC Tax Manager in San Jose – $ 120,000 per year

PwC Advisory Manager in San Jose – $130,000 per year

PwC Audit Senior Associate – $98,000 per year

PwC Tax Senior Associate in San jose – $93,000 per year

PwC Advisory Senior Associate in San Jose – $91,000 per year

PwC New York Office Salaries

PwC Audit Manager in New York- $122,000 per year

PwC Tax Manager in New York – $ 116,000 per year

PwC Advisory Manager – $139,000 per year

PwC Audit Senior Associate in New York – $105,000 per year

PwC Tax Senior Associate in New York – $93,000 per year

PwC Advisory Senior Associate in New York  – $92,000 per year

PwC Washington DC Office Salaries

PwC Audit Manager in DC – $122,000 per year

PwC Tax Manager in Washington DC – $ 124,000 per year

PwC Advisory Manager in Washington DC – $132,000 per year

PwC Audit Senior Associate in Washington DC – $82,000 per year

PwC Tax Senior Associate in DC – $91,000 per year

PwC Advisory Senior Associate in DC – $85,000 per year

PwC Houston Office Salaries

PwC Audit Manager in Houston- $106,000 per year

PwC Tax Manager in Houston – $ 105,000 per year

PwC Houston Advisory Manager  – $107,000 per year

PwC Audit Senior Associate in Houston – $78,000 per year

PwC Tax Senior Associate in Houston – $77,000 per year

PwC Advisory Senior Associate in Houston  – $77,000 per year

Deloitte Salary

We will be analyzing Deloitte’s salary by location. We will focus on the manager and senior associate titles as those are the titles with the most reliable data.

Deloitte New York Office Salaries

Deloitte Audit Manager in New York- $113,000 per year

Deloitte Tax Manager in New York – $ 130,000 per year

Deloitte Advisory Manager – $152,000 per year

Deloitte Audit Senior Associate in New York – $73,000 per year

Deloitte Tax Senior Associate in New York – $87,000 per year

Deloitte Advisory Senior Associate in New York  – $119,000 per year

Deloitte Los Angeles Office Salaries

Deloitte Audit Manager in Los Angeles – $109,000 per year

Deloitte Tax Manager in Los Angeles- $ 110,000 per year

Deloitte Advisory Manager in Los Angeles – $134,000 per year

Deloitte Los Angeles Audit Senior Associate – $67,000 per year

Deloitte Tax Senior Associate in Los Angeles – $79,000 per year

Deloitte Advisory Senior Associate in Los Angeles – $107,000 per year

Deloitte Chicago Office Salaries

Deloitte Audit Manager in Chicago – $92,000 per year

Deloitte Tax Manager in Chicago- $ 108,000 per year

Deloitte Advisory Manager in Chicago – $144,000 per year

Deloitte Audit Senior Associate in Chicago – $68,000 per year

Deloitte Tax Senior Associate in Chicago- $79,000 per year

Deloitte Advisory Senior Associate in Chicago – $123,000 per year

Deloitte Houston Office Salaries

Deloitte Audit Manager in Houston – $93,000 per year

Deloitte Tax Manager in Houston- $ 109,000 per year

Deloitte Advisory Manager in Houston – $150,000 per year

Deloitte Audit Senior Associate in Houston – $70,000 per year

Deloitte Tax Senior Associate in Houston $72,000 per year

Deloitte Advisory Senior Associate in Houston – $113,000 per year

Deloitte Phoenix Office Salaries

Deloitte Audit Manager in Phoenix – $91,000 per year

Deloitte Tax Manager in Phoenix – $ 105,000 per year

Deloitte Advisory Manager in Phoenix – $133,000 per year

Deloitte Audit Senior Associate in Phoenix – $60,000 per year

Deloitte Tax Senior Associate in Phoenix $82,000 per year

Deloitte Advisory Senior Associate in Phoenix – $118,000 per year

Ernst & Young Salary

We will be analyzing EY’s salary by location. We will focus on the manager and senior associate titles as those are the titles with the most reliable data.

EY New York Office Salaries

EY Audit Manager in New York- $115,000 per year

EY Tax Manager in New York – $ 124,000 per year

EY Advisory Manager – $136,000 per year

EY Audit Senior Associate in New York – $87,000 per year

EY Tax Senior Associate in New York – $80,000 per year

EY Advisory Senior Associate in New York  – $109,000 per year

EY Los Angeles Office Salaries

EY Audit Manager in Los Angeles – $92,000 per year

EY Tax Manager in Los Angeles- $ 119,000 per year

EY Advisory Manager in Los Angeles – $139,000 per year

EY Los Angeles Audit Senior Associate – $73,000 per year

EY Tax Senior Associate in Los Angeles – $79,000 per year

EY Advisory Senior Associate in Los Angeles – $90,000 per year

EY Chicago Office Salaries

EY Audit Manager in Chicago – $102,000 per year

EY Tax Manager in Chicago- $ 108,000 per year

EY Advisory Manager in Chicago – $133,000 per year

EY Audit Senior Associate in Chicago – $77,000 per year

EY Tax Senior Associate in Chicago- $79,000 per year

EY Advisory Senior Associate in Chicago – $97,000 per year

EY Houston Office Salaries

EY Audit Manager in Houston – $101,000 per year

EY Tax Manager in Houston- $ 97,000 per year

EY Advisory Manager in Houston – $138,000 per year

EY Audit Senior Associate in Houston – $78,000 per year

EY Tax Senior Associate in Houston $84,000 per year

EY Advisory Senior Associate in Houston – $105,000 per year

EY Phoenix Office Salaries

EY Audit Manager in Phoenix – Not enough data

EY Tax Manager in Phoenix – Not enough data

EY Advisory Manager in Phoenix – Not enough data

EY Audit Senior Associate in Phoenix – $63,000 per year

EY Tax Senior Associate in Phoenix $73,000 per year

EY Advisory Senior Associate in Phoenix – Not enough data

KPMG Salary

We will be analyzing KPMG’s salary by location. We will focus on the manager and senior associate titles as those are the titles with the most reliable data.

KPMG New York Office Salaries

KPMG Audit Manager in New York- $104,000 per year

KPMG Tax Manager in New York – $ 127,000 per year

KPMG Advisory Manager – $134,000 per year

KPMG Audit Senior Associate in New York – $73,000 per year

KPMG Tax Senior Associate in New York – $94,000 per year

KPMG Advisory Senior Associate in New York  – $118,000 per year

KPMG Los Angeles Office Salaries

KPMG Audit Manager in Los Angeles – $96,000 per year

KPMG Tax Manager in Los Angeles- $ 109,000 per year

KPMG Advisory Manager in Los Angeles – $128,000 per year

KPMG Los Angeles Audit Senior Associate – $65,000 per year

KPMG Tax Senior Associate in Los Angeles – $75,000 per year

KPMG Advisory Senior Associate in Los Angeles – $92,000 per year

KPMG Chicago Office Salaries

KPMG Audit Manager in Chicago – $90,000 per year

KPMG Tax Manager in Chicago- $ 108,000 per year

KPMG Advisory Manager in Chicago – $129,000 per year

KPMG Audit Senior Associate in Chicago – $70,000 per year

KPMG Tax Senior Associate in Chicago- $81,000 per year

KPMG Advisory Senior Associate in Chicago – $91,000 per year

KPMG Houston Office Salaries

KPMG Audit Manager in Houston – $95,000 per year

KPMG Tax Manager in Houston- $ 101,000 per year

KPMG Advisory Manager in Houston – $109,000 per year

KPMG Audit Senior Associate in Houston – $65,000 per year

KPMG Tax Senior Associate in Houston $77,000 per year

KPMG Advisory Senior Associate in Houston – $83,000 per year

KPMG Phoenix Office Salaries

KPMG Audit Manager in Phoenix – Not enough data

KPMG Tax Manager in Phoenix – Not enough data

KPMG Advisory Manager in Phoenix – Not enough data

KPMG Audit Senior Associate in Phoenix – $67,000 per year

KPMG Tax Senior Associate in Phoenix $73,000 per year

KPMG Advisory Senior Associate in Phoenix – Not enough data

Big 4 Salary Comparison Summary

I think one of the biggest takeaways from the big 4 salary comparison data above is how highly valued consulting is over tax and audit. In many cases advisory people make more than 50% more than their peers in audit and tax.

We also learned that Tax is the second highest paid practice in the big 4. They are viewed as specialists and are paid accordingly.

Amazingly enough the bread and butter of the big 4 firms, audit, is the most poorly paid. This where everyone thinks that the big 4 make their money because they are known for auditing financial statements, but it seems that even the big 4 themselves do not value auditing. They pay their auditing personnel the least out of all their employees.

Why do I think this is. I think this is occurring because of automation and technology. We’ve talked about technology’s impact on accounting in past episodes. I think automation has devastated the auditing industry. Auditing used to be hard to understand and no one wanted to do it. You had to go into a company request thousands of documents and sample all of those documents or you had to test inventory by hand. Now technology has made accounting more unified and automated. Journal entries are made automatically and they are verified electronically. You know longer request paper documents or tie out binders of documents by hand. You can audit a clients work papers remotely. Because of this auditing is easier and takes less time and skill. This means that you don’t have to pay people more for an industry that’s dying out.

What isn’t dying out is technology. There is a lot of new technology out there and that is where the money is flowing. Big companies are implementing new technologies and they need help implementing them. That’s where the big 4 come in. The big 4 are raking in tons of money in their consulting practices, and I think a lot of that money is helping implementing technological solutions like automation robotics and blockchain. I also think the big 4 are making a lot of money in consulting their clients about the risks that come from those technological solutions like cyber attacks and loss of data from technological errors.

With that let’s go over some more conclusions that many of you are interested in like where is the best place to work and which firm pays the most

If you want to make the most money in the big 4, your safest bet is going to be new York. That is without a doubt the highest paying city in the United States.

Which big 4 accounting firm pays the most?

Well it depends on which practice you want to go into.

If you want to make the most money in consulting, Deloitte pays the best. However if you want to make the most money in auditing or tax PwC is likely your best bet.

Highest Paying Cities for Accountants

First up before we get into where the best paying place for accountants is, we’ll discuss which states have the highest employment of accountants.

  • California has the most accountants in the United States with 147,320.
  • The next state with the highest population of accountants is Texas with 118,320.
  • New York has the 3rd largest population of accountants with 108,800.
  • Then it drops off pretty quickly with Florida being the next most amount of accountants in the nation with 75,640.
  • The state with the fifth most accountants is Pennsylvania with 52,590.

If you want the best chances of landing a job at the big 4 accounting firms, then your best bet is to work in one of these states. With California Texas and new York being your best for landing a big 4 job. Can you work in other states and get a good accounting job, sure. But you will have an easier time getting a job in one of those states.

So does the average wage for an accountant match up to the number of accountants in the state?

Now let’s go back through those states that we just analzyed.

  • The annual mean wage for accountants in California is $82,620
  • The annual mean wage for accountants is $80,490 in Texas.
  • The annual mean wage of all accountants in New York is $93,280
  • The average wage of accountants in Florida is $69,090.
  • The average wage for accountants in Pennsylvania is $73,500.

Based on the states with the most accountants, New York is the highest paying state with California coming in number 2. So the states with the most accountants does not translate perfectly into the highest paying state as New York is the 3rd most largest states in terms of employment for accountants, but is the highest paying state. Texas comes in at number 3 in ranking states by average wage with Pennsylvania coming in 4th and Florida coming in 5th. What if you look at smaller states and what if we just analyze all the states in the united states and try to find the highest paying states.

If you do that analysis, you find that New York is still the highest paying state in the nation with $93,000 average annual wage. Number 2 is no longer california though. Number 2 is the District of Columbia also known as Washington dc. The average wage for accountants in Washington DC is $93,210. That is very close to the average wage in New York. The third highest paying state is New Jersey. The average annual wage for accountants in New Jersey if $88,940. The 4th highest paying state in the union is Virginia with an average annual wage of $83,380. California comes in 5th with an average annual wage of 82,620.

What does this data tell us.

It tells us if you want to find a job in accounting or at the big 4, your best bet is in large states like California Texas or New York. If you want to make the most money, you need to look for a job in the northeast United States. Now that we know the highest paying states. What are the highest paying cities or metropolitan centers in the United States with a decent sized population.

  • First up is the San Jose Region. The average annual wage of accountants in San Jose is $101,070 per year.
  • Next up is the New York city area with the average annual wage being $98,480.
  • The next highest paying large city is Washington DC with an average annual wage of $91,100.
  • The next highest paying large city is Houston with the average annual wage being $89,900.

What does all of this mean? If you want a good chance at landing an accounting and big 4 job focus on the largest states New York, California and Texas. If you want to make the most money, you should try to find a job in the New York area. Alternatively, you can try to find a job in San Jose if you are located on the west coast.