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The Virginia landscape of CPA firm compensation

February 19, 2021

The VSCPA has completed the findings of its 2020 Compensation & Benefits Survey. All firms that participated in the survey received a free copy of the comprehensive report. The report is available for purchase to all other firms and companies, and you can access a complimentary copy of the Executive Summary.

When it comes to total compensation and benefits, how do firms across Virginia stack up? To help them determine compensation and benefits structures, the VSCPA and Whorton Marketing & Research conducted a compensation and benefits survey among public accounting firm members in November and December 2020. 

The survey determined the mean and median salaries offered across the state at all levels of employment, as well as other issues related to benefits like paid leave and insurance. Other survey questions touched on staff turnover, diversity, the effect of COVID on work arrangements and more.

While a vast majority of firm respondents conduct tax services (93%), audit came in at 56%, consulting services at 37%, and outsourced accounting or bookkeeping at 32%. 

Key compensation findings

The mean salary level for an entry-level accountant at a public accounting firm in Virginia is $51,121. Salaries increase from there, with first-level supervisors making a mean of $75,110 and partners a mean of $210,780. Respondents were also asked for salary information on a variety of other positions, including paraprofessionals/bookkeepers, marketing, finance and IT. 

Staff who work in specialty areas do earn more than generalists, and CPAs earn a mean of 15% more than non-CPAs.

The average percentage for raises was a mean of 4% between October 2019 and 2020, and respondents indicated it will be the same for the 2020–2021 period. Unsurprisingly, mean bonus targets generally rise with income and experience. 

And in the quarantine age, how did firms do with staff retention? Overall, respondents show slight growth, losing a mean of 4.6/median of 1.0 staff, and hiring a mean of 5.6/median of 1.0. 

Key benefits findings

Most respondents (86%) have paid time off. Full-time staff receive a mean of 18.3 days in the first year of employment, 20.6 days at their third anniversary, 22.9 days at their fifth, 26 days at their 10th, and 27.2 days at 15 or more years of experience. 

The most common benefits available to employees is medical insurance (76%), with 60% providing medical for dependents/families. Others include matching contributions for retirement programs (75%), professional membership dues (71%), professional license/credential reimbursement, and bonuses for passing the CPA Exam (55% each).

In the COVID age, 49% now offer flexible work arrangements, and it looks like remote work is here to stay for many firms. Looking into the near future, 22% plan to have staff remain full time in the office, with 33% having most time working at home and 40% some time.

What’s in the full report?

  • Detailed compensation for each position level by geographic location, including salary, raises and bonuses.

  • Information broken down by firm size: small (1–5 staff), medium (6–15) and large (more than 15 full-time employees).

  • Demographic information on firms, including diversity programs and other recruitment and retention activities.

  • Much more! 

All firms that participated in the survey will get a free report of survey findings. Stay tuned: The report is also available for purchase to all other firms.