"Live according to your income." -Aulus Persius Flaccus

One of the first things that people research when they have decided upon a career is the annual income that can be expected. Why's that? The salary dictates where a person will live, where they might take vacations, the type of car they may drive, and the amount of spending money left over for recreation and hobbies.

So, if you're considering a career as an accountant in the business and finance sector in the UK, it's completely natural to ask yourself, what is the average salary per year that one can expect to make? While there are many factors such as location, years of experience, and the amount of training received that dictate how much an accountant is paid, an average amount can be found. Such as?

Without further delay, in today's article, we shall take a look at the job description of accountants, how much accountants make on average, and the different salaries of accountants who have specialised in a unique sector of finance. Let's get calculating!

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What is an Accountant?

It's important to state that we don't have much of an idea about the careers of other individuals because we haven't gone through the process of studying. For instance, some people contend that, when they post a letter, their letter carrier takes it directly to its intended recipient without any idea of the complex systems and the technology involved in sorting and delivering mail.

The same is true for every job, from banker to fireman. It’s natural to assume that the publicly visible part of such jobs is all that there is to it. Thus, it is no surprise that people are taken aback by accountants’ scope of work. So, what is an accountant, and what do they accomplish daily?

Accountants are persons whose job is to keep, inspect, and analyse financial accounts. For example, the entry-level accountants maintain the books; that’s pretty much where the public vision of accounting begins and ends. Private accountants welcome clients who are individual taxpayers or who have their own businesses. On the other hand, some accountants work in public for government entities.

Nonetheless, accountants have a lot of work to do behind the scenes, and they can be categorised as the unsung heroes of the business and finance world. Accountants complete most of their tasks using computer software, making much of their tasks more manageable.

Accountants track credits and debits of their clients in ledgers, and they are experts at providing fiscal forecasts, projections, risk analysis, and reconciliation to the persons they are working for. All of the functions mentioned require highly trained, competent people steeped in the economic climate of the times. The best accountants put their strong analytical skills to determine how their firm can best weather any global or local financial storm.

Also, the work-life of an accountant would not be complete without the calculation of duties, tariffs, and taxes.

Since there are so many layers to the field of accounting, business, and finance, it's worth pointing out that there are different types of accountants that boast various salaries; we'll talk about that in the next few subheadings.

Find more accounting tutors here on Superprof.

How Much Do Accountants Get in the UK?

studying to become an accountant
Accountants who have studied and acquired degrees will make more money than those who haven't. (Source: Unsplash)

Before mentioning how much money accountants make in the UK, as a base note, we will start by stating that the average UK salary is £27.271 a year; it's £39,476 in London. So, you might be wondering, how does an accountants' salary measure up?

Well, it's hard to say since the term accountant is so vague and could include so many different job titles. Nonetheless, according to available data, accountants in the UK earn anywhere between £28,630 to £400,000 a year, depending on qualifications, industry, company size and, sadly, gender.

The annual income also depends on the kind of accounting job you wish to do: public accounting, financial accounting, general accounting, corporate accounting and so on.

The accounting sector seems to be above the national average at 18.4% regarding the disparity in salaries between men and women. The variation is about 19.2% in practice accountancy or roughly £10,000 a year. In the industry sector, the gap increases to 24.4%, resulting in more than £16,000.

Despite women taking home a lot less than their male counterparts, surveys have found that female accountants were more likely to hold a professional accounting qualification. So, make sure to know how much the position you're interviewing for should be paid and do not sell yourself short.

If you just received the very prized title of Chartered Accountant, you will almost certainly already have a few years of work experience behind you; we'll discuss that in more detail later on. To better understand things, let's look at different accountant jobs and their salary range expectations.

What is a Chartered Accountant?

For a more established and higher-paying career as an accountant, you might consider becoming a Chartered Accountant. It's worth stating that chartered Accountants are more focused on consultancy and auditing. As well as managing money systems and budgets, Chartered Accountants are also required to complete internal audits or work with a certified internal auditor to assess the financial health of a company.

After inspections are completed, Chartered Accountants often advise clients on tax planning, potential business transactions including mergers and acquisition or dealing with a company's bankruptcy.

Chartered Accountants often specialise in management accounting and can oversee the work of an entire accounting department. But, how much do chartered accountants earn per year? In the beginning, income remains pretty low. Still, after two to four years, following your qualification, it will be time to renegotiate and, at that point, the average Chartered Accountant can expect around £56,000.

After five years of experience, a Senior Accountant average salary goes up to £90,200 with an additional bonus of around £20,600 with variations depending on which accounting firm is hiring you.

The Annual Salaries of Other Types of Accountants

calculating amounts
Calculators are the best friend of any accountant. (Source: Unsplash)

Though we've considered the average salary of all types of accountants combined and the annual income of chartered accountants, one of the most popular types of accountants, it's important to state that many other accounting-based careers merit specific attention.

Let's look at the average salaries expected for accounting technicians, financial advisers, investment analysts, financial traders, CFOs, and forensic accountants.

Accounting Technician

Accounting technicians are often entry-level positions that you can access through the AAT Accounting Qualification or the ACCA Certified Accounting Technician qualification (CAT).

The job mainly involves traditional bookkeeper duties, processing invoices, recording payments and receipts, making sure that ledgers are balanced and submitting tax and VAT returns and National Insurance contributions. An Accounting Technician can also handle a corporation's expenses and payroll systems.

A more senior Accounting Technician can also take on budgeting, reporting, tax returns preparation or become an assistant controller.

Salary-wise, Accounting Technicians can expect to make between £16,000 and £22,000 while training to get their certification. Once you're qualified and your degree is framed and pinned on the wall, expect to make £30,000 or more depending on your experience, industry and responsibilities.

Some accounting technicians further supplement their income by working as a CPA and being finance tutors.

Financial Adviser

Sometimes synonymous with the term accountant, financial advisers are more specialised accountants. So, if you prefer a more consultancy based career, you can also become a financial adviser. Their job is to provide clients with specialist advice on how to manage and "grow" their money.

As a Financial Adviser, you will have to manage a client list and set up meetings because your role includes reviewing your client's financial situation and advising them according to the risk analysis that you would have completed.

Salary wise, at entry-level, expect to earn between £22,000 and £30,000 a year. With a degree qualification, you could pocket up to £45,000, and after years of experience and a promotion to a Senior Financial Adviser position, you could make around £60,000 a year.

Investment Analysts

In the banking industry, Investment Analysts is crucial to help traders, wealth managers and stockbrokers to make the right decisions.

Investment Analysts work with banks, corporations, hedge funds, life insurance companies or pension funds, and wealthy individuals, consisting in providing insight into economic trends and evaluating the potential returns of various investments.

But, how much are investment analysts paid per year? Most UK investment analysts are based in London, where they usually earn between £28,000 and £40,000. However, during their first three years on the job, Investment Analysts can expect to get a yearly bonus ranging from 10 to 100% of their actual salary.

With five to eight years of experience, you could expect to earn between £65,000 and £100,000 a year as a Senior Financial Analyst with a bonus between 40 and 150% of your salary. And, at a senior level, your salary may reach over £110,000, and typical bonuses are up to 200% of your salary.

Despite their heavy workload, accountancy tutors in London still make time to give lessons in accounting.

Financial Trader

Another type of accountant commonly recognised in the UK is a Financial Traders. Working directly with Investment Advisers, a Financial Trader is in charge of selling or buying shares, bonds and assets for investors.

The following list highlights the responsibilities of financial traders:

  • Executing trades according to client's orders,
  • Informing your clients of market movements and possible investment opportunities,
  • Gathering information about companies' valuation.

Most Financial Traders work long hours to follow the market or their niche product. The work of Financial Traders is usually demanding as trading on international markets can be hectic, and the stress of managing large amounts of money can be stressful.

However, the strains of this career are largely compensated by the salary a Financial Trader can expect to earn. At the beginning of their career, Financial Traders can earn between £26,000 and £32,000, not including commissions. Experienced traders can make between £45,000 and £150,000 a year, depending on your employer or the type of market your trade on.

If you reach the level of Associate Trader working in a top-tier bank, you could earn around £140,000 and, if you specialise in a more lucrative niche market, traders making around £230,000 a year are the norm.

You may need an accounting online tutor to master all of the concepts required for this position.

Chief Financial Officers

The job of Cheif Financial Officer is one of the highest-ranking positions in a business's hierarchy. As a CFO, you will be the senior assistant to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Your job is to oversee all of the enterprise's finances and operations to ensure that the treasury, economic strategy and forecasting are respected and that your firm is on track to meet its yearly money targets. In addition, CFOs have to report to key shareholders, usually represented at the corporation's board, about what is going on regarding the overall financial position.

Chief Financial Officers are crucial to the success of any company in maintaining its fiscal health, identifying potential threats, ensuring compliance with all current regulations and finding ways to increase profits. Are they well compensated? Absolutely!

Salary wise, the national average for CFOs in the UK is around £115,000. Still, given the seniority of such a position, it takes years of experience and dedication before reaching such a job. You won't become a CFO fresh out of accounting school!

In London, the median salary goes up to £128,000, but some famous British companies pay their CFOs much more than that, and it's not unheard of for them to become millionaires in the process.

Forensic Accountants

showing graphs and reports
Forensic accountants have an eye for detail and work very diligently. They show their findings by creating graphs and charts. (Source: Unsplash)

The role forensic accountants play in cybercrime, and international economics is quite essential. For instance, who could forget the WannaCry ransomware virus that struck Windows computer systems, locking entire civic structures like the NHS and government offices out of their systems until a ransom was paid? Not those working in forensic accounting!

Cybersecurity agencies worldwide were already on high alert for attacks since they had happened before. However, forensic accountants are of prime importance to save millions of pounds and investigate cases of stolen money.

A forensic accountant follows the money of any shady transaction. But, of course, not every case forensic accountants solve involves international intrigue because a substantial portion of their work involves embezzlement and fraud at the local level in a company or bank.

Forensic accountants must be prepared for testimony in a court of law. To do that, these accountants must be well-versed in business and criminal law. As they are called to give testimony, they must also be able to prepare materials such as charts, graphs and other documents that are relevant to the case.

A forensic accountant may work with insurance companies, branches of government, banks and the police. 

To work as a forensic accountant, it is generally required to possess a chartered accountant certification. However, that ensures that they are paid more than other accountants from the start. Such as? Trusted sources list the average salary for a forensic accountant in the UK as £48,000. Nonetheless, some entry-level jobs may boast an average salary of approximately £55,000.

In conclusion, whatever the career path you choose to follow, auditor, accounting manager, public accountant, tax accountant or financial manager, a degree in accounting will open many doors. Accounting is also one of the safest jobs globally, both in terms of job security and physical safety.

And, if you're in it for the money, you'll always be assured an above-average salary that boasts much room for improvement when you consider promotions and bonuses throughout the year. So, start your work as an accountant; you won't regret it!

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