Prices And Rates: How Much To Charge As A CPA Per Hour 

The vast field of Certified Public Accountant (CPA) isn’t an easy one to get into. People are left wondering how much to charge as a CPA per hour.

According to the national society of accountants in the USA, the average rate that CPAs demand for their consultancy ranges around $158 per hour, reaching up to as much as $500 per hour. Alongside this, many companies compile a series of tasks and are fixed to either monthly or annual charges.

Oftentimes, being unaware of the laws and ethics in your field can also pose a hurdle in finding common grounds for such fixed, hourly, or monthly rates. 

Although payments are often done in terms of the average hours spent, for many employers the monthly rate feels more suited.

So, what’s the best system for receiving your paycheck? — Many people in the accountancy area of expertise ponder over this and find it difficult to reach a consensus that could satisfy their bonds.

But don’t get demotivated too quickly because, by the time you’re done reading this, you’ll have effectively evaluated every option you possess and will easily be able to reach a consensus on your predicament. 

What is the CPA Certification?

Accountant Counting Money

So, starting from where it all began, let’s dive deep into what exactly the prestigious qualification of being a certified public accountant is.

Although there’s not much versatility to the field, CPA mainly being of only one sort, there are still a few minor classifications that one can get into. 

For a general definition, a CPA individual is a highly qualified financial consultant and advisor who helps firms and organizations plan and reach their goals. 

Accountancy and CPA 

A common misconception most people entertain is whether or not accountancy is equivalent to CPA. With this the question arises, is CPA and a common accountant degree the same? Well, the answer to that is both yes and no.

Let’s break it down, alright? 

CPA and an accountant are similar in the sense that all CPAs are accountants, but, this isn’t the case vice versa. The major difference between them is the experience they attain, their education, and overall opportunity. 

To become a CPA, you’ll have to gain a certain work experience and pass a standardized set of exams.

Then, and only then, will they be given their CPA certification and this, in turn, distinguishes you from all others; being presented to potential clients with more trust and a greater chance of scoring a well-paying gig.

Areas Of CPA And How Much Each Pays

White and Red No Smoking Signage

As we said, there isn’t much to distinguish in the specializations a CPA can choose from, CPA is a specialization. 

There are, however, a range of jobs that they can choose to master, even though they are initially taught all of them, and it is the compilation of these skills that make them a CPA. These include ones like filing taxes, auditing, forensic accounting, and many more.

Tax Filing

One of the areas CPAs are most known for is filing our taxes. Because let’s be real, doing taxes is an arduous task and it requires levels of paperwork, not anyone can handle.

Usually, the job for tax filing can reach from $220 to a maximum of $913 for a corporate tax return. 

These are, of course, taken as averages and prices usually differ due to many other factors like time, experience, and the number of forms presented.


One of the key features of audits is to examine financial reports for an organization by a body, independent from that firm. 

Usually, these are performed to find out if the data written in their reports are accurate or not and is an important skill CPAs possess. It’s necessary to know how many stocks one has and the overall output of the company.

As audits are performed by almost anyone and everyone who owns or starts a business, you can’t find any substitutes for it.

A general year-end audit can cost up to a mean of $518 million.

Gross Total That Audit Firms Make 

Of course, not everyone receives an annual profit of a million, so general prices of performing audits for lesser income businesses cost around $10,000 in total. 

The pricing for these audits is based on the level of skill and analytics that one needs to execute, not to mention the time they give for these tasks as well. 

Most pricing is in consideration of the gross annual output of the company. 

In the end, audits are said to cost around $139,000 for private companies and a median of $4.7 million for public ones. 

Forensic Accounting 

As the name suggests, this spectrum of CPAs majorly works in investigating financial transactions of a person or firm. 

This is usually done in legal cases of accusations of fraud and embezzlement. This area uses all the key aspects of accounting such as audits, analysis, and comparing data to find out whether a business has committed any sort of financial felony.

The average salary one receives for a forensic accounting job is diverse, anywhere around $45,000-$110,000, grossing to about $59,000 annually.

This is, however, subjective to the level of skills one owns.

Kickstarting Your CPA Journey

A Man Counting Paper Bills

So by now, you’ve given your last paper and finally been awarded the certification of being a chartered public accountant. 

Now begins your advent to make a breakthrough into the highly competitive industry of accountancy. The only question is, how do you do it?

Choosing a Platform

For starters, there’s the option of being a task-based worker –joining a company as a permanent accountant — working for banks or being represented by an accountancy firm.

Once you’ve chosen your suited method, you can easily begin your journey of enduring loads and heaps of paperwork. 

Task-Based Work

For many newbies, finding a firm or company to work with can be difficult. This is, however, not an issue as a major chunk of the accountancy industry solely works by themselves and is hired as independent parties that perform multiple tasks and earn hourly incomes.

These people perform any and every task a person sent from an accountancy firm would be equipped to do, with the only difference being, the amount they charge and the amount they receive.

Going Solo

For working solo, CPAs have the opportunity to attain maximum income with no percentages shared with anyone but themselves. 

They don’t have to worry about the ratio they would receive as every penny would all be only theirs to attain. Hence, they get the advantage of obtaining 100% of the cost they put out for companies.

Representing a Firm

A common idea that the industry follows is establishing different accounting or auditing firms and hiring CPAs, which are then sent to different businesses and individuals to overlook their finances.

A Deep Level Of Trust

This gives people a backbone to trust as well as saves them from the hassle of finding auditing and taxation gigs. 

With firms, you do not need to worry about making a reputation for future works. Yes, you can still prove your capability through your works but it isn’t necessary to set any new expectations, only to retain the already present ones.

This makes their work much easier and allows them to focus only on polishing their skills.

With these firms, the major issue arises in dividing the income into ratios received by both the firm and the chartered public accountant.

Sometimes, this can be disheartening as you do not receive the full gross payment but rather a portion of it. Around 30% to 40% of the total income is taken by the firm. 

Working For A Single Company 

Sometimes, if a company can afford it, they opt-in hiring their own, personal set of CPAs that then overlook the entire stocks of the company. 

This proves much more cost-effective as they can set a fixed annual income and do not need to entertain any task-based pricing rates; rather one or a group of people work on multiple tasks for a fixed amount.

How Much Do CPAs Make With Companies

Man and Woman Working at the Office

At an annual average, CPAs working for solely one company earn around $66,000 to $119,000 and this is devoid of any yearly bonuses and national holiday bonuses, such as Christmas and thanksgiving. 

Aside from the stereotypical jobs, a CPA is commonly known for, they can also uphold many major positions such as being directors or even CFOs of certain companies.

A lot of talented CFOs started as simple CPAs working the accounts and slowly made their way to the top. 

Banking And CPA 

Yes, you read it right, as a CPA you can also seek opportunities in the banking sector. Usually, banks require a qualified accountant to keep information about a bank’s transactions, their revenue, and any sort of borrowing or lending that takes place within the institution.

Duties Of CPAs At Banks

They perform audits as well as being required to sign any notice to readers (NTR), this is however only in the instance where banks require yearly financials from companies they loaned.

If we were to look at the workload, it is plentiful, and like every other occupation, it pays decently. But when the new year comes closer, you’ll have to say bye-bye to sleep and any personal life you may have. At this time, you will be drowned in heaps of files making your final audits for the year.

» You can also read my post: 10 High Paying Jobs In Finance With NO Experience At All

Different Archetypes And How Much Each Pays

Now that we’ve finally covered some of the major aspects of CPA, let’s get back to our initial question, what pays more and what doesn’t?

Well, one thing is clear, whether you join a firm, a company, or decide to work alone, you will eventually be paid for the number of tasks you are made to do. 

With this in consideration, audits are said to be the most expensive tasks and are a “luxury” only big corporations can entertain the thought of. Usual audits cost somewhere around $3.7M to $9.8M.

Aside from this, tax filing would have to be the least expensive task, with bookkeeping coming in a close second. 

Factors That Determine Your Income 

Crop unrecognizable accountant counting savings using notebook and calculator

Aside from the type of tasks, you’re equipped to do and the method you chose to be employed by, certain confounding variables are also subject to the amount you receive, irrespective of any task or platform. 

Looking aside from the general time, experience, and quality of your work, there are a few other points that we’ll break down for you.


Your rate largely depends on where you choose to work. Sometimes certain cities are known to charge more as compared to other ones. This mainly depends on the demand and supply factors of that area.

If a place has a larger number of CPAs, then they would charge less as they would have a large variety to choose from.

Aside from this, living expenses also determine the cost you receive for each job; a person working in San Francisco may earn higher than the same person living in Tusla. 

The Industry You Work For

Sometimes, the corporations you choose to be affiliated with can also largely impact your income. For example, if you were to work for a big IT firm as compared to working for a personally owned business, you would be given a higher sum from the large IT firm than from the business. 

This and how established a firm is when you join it also poses as a determinant for your salary. 

A company that’s only been in the market for less than 5 years, for instance, may not have the budget to pay more but a company that’s been around for longer than 5 years may be well-rooted in the industry and have a larger budget to hire a well-paid CPA.

Your Credentials

In many cases, your CPA certification alone can have a greater impact on how much you earn. Such professional certification is looked upon with great regard, and this gives you a bias that you can avail for your benefit.

According to a survey, licensed CPAs make around 10% to 15% more than an average accountant, and thus, this gives you leverage over other competitors in the market. 

Other Common Factors 

You guessed it, those with greater experience are more likely to be offered more. There’s the unspoken trust that experience brings a better quality of work. 

Time also plays an important role; the more time it takes to do a job, the higher the sum you are offered. 

Aside from this, gender differences are prevalent. Males earn more than females, on an average of $292,000, whereas women only earn around $181,000 for the same position. 

» Read my blog post: Top 10 » High Paying Finance Jobs with NO Degree at all

Final Synopsis 

Calculator and pens with marker placed on papers

Let’s face it, being in an industry where you’re almost always in high demand will bring you many perks, but you can’t ignore that with so many people all applying for the same positions. The surplus of candidates to choose from will make it hard for you to find decent pay.

Everyone wants to make a name for themselves, and everyone wants to get the highest income, even as a startup CPA.

But, the bitter truth lies in the fact that even with the qualified certification one possesses, it takes time to settle oneself into the rapidly changing economy and to make a name for themselves.

With this, many CPAs have to sacrifice a lot and put in long hours of dedication and work to finally attain the position they were meant to take. 

Effort Makes It Worth It

Every profession requires some sort of effort and even with the advantage of being preferred over normal accountants, there are still many struggles one has to go through. 

To sum up, yes you will be taken as a priority during the application process, but a good hefty sum depends on many factors. These include your location, experience, and your ability followed by a fiery passion to achieve your breakthrough into the field of finance.

About Hi' my name is Simon. I am the owner of Top Work Life. Together with a my team, I write content about income generating ideas, entreprenurship and growth as a person Read more about Simon & TopWorklife

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