Salaries, Job Demand Remain Strong for Bay Area CPAs

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Certified Public Accountants in the San Francisco Bay Area may be the best-paid financial professionals in the United States. Job demand is tight because of the scant number of new accountants and baby boomer retirement. That said, a recent survey indicates that about one-third of local CPAs plan to change job and boost their earnings.

Certified Public Accountants in the Northern California Bay Area are earning far above the national average, and almost a third of this demographic are poised to make job moves that could garner them even greater salaries, according to a recent survey conducted by Kula Consulting (

The biannual, non-scientific Salary/Job Satisfaction survey polled 325 accounting professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area during the first half of November.

"The findings aren't surprising and reflect an ongoing trend of a hot job market for CPAs. What we're seeing is baby boomers retiring at a faster rate than they are being replaced," said Rich Williams, president, Kula Consulting. "The number of CPA certificates awarded in California has remained flat at less than 3000 a year for the past 10 years- and we've seen no indication that this number will rise."

Santa Cruz-based Kula Consulting specializes in providing companies with expert senior-level accountants. Kula Consulting places senior accounting candidates in project, interim and regular full-time engagements.

Williams added that CPAs working in the Bay Area earn about 20 percent more annually than their peers in Southern California.

Though it remains unclear why more college students aren't pursuing accounting degrees, the profession certainly pays well. Senior managers earn up to $250,000 annually after about 10 years in their profession, according to the report.

"Accounting is hard work, but it's a well-paying and respected profession," Williams said. "Plus, all indications point to a rise in salary as the economics of scarcity come into play with a reduced workforce."

The accountants polled realize they can make more money by making the right career choices. Though almost half (45 percent) said they were content with their current job, more than 30 percent of the respondents said they were open to making a job change in 2008.

For employers, this dynamic represents a stark picture. Even though they are paying their accountants well and providing other benefits such as stock options and bonuses, their accounting staff may be on the move.

"CPAs who follow a logical career path have a rosy future," Williams said. "Whether it be moving from one of the Big 4 accounting firms to private industry or deciding to become a contract worker, the job market has great opportunities for them."

And what of the employers who rely on the accounting expertise of a satisfied CPA?

"Companies can expect the seller's market to continue for 2008," Williams said. "I suggest companies spend time today with their accounting staff and find out what it will take to retain them - and give it to them."

For a complete copy of the Salary/Satisfaction Report go to

About Kula Consulting
Kula Consulting is a boutique search and consulting firm headquartered in Santa Cruz, with additional offices in Cupertino and Los Angeles. The firm was founded in 2003 by Rich Williams, a long-time veteran of the placement industry.

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David Leland
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