Career Paths and Compensation for Accounting Graduates

Accounting Horizons, American Accounting Association

69 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2021

Date Written: February 15, 2021


This paper reports financial and career outcomes following a degree in accounting using a large cross-sectional and time-series survey of one university’s alumni. We extend the work of prior researchers by examining outcomes throughout accounting graduates’ careers, which include positions outside of public accounting. We find that starting salaries are positively associated with graduate degrees, working for a Big N firm and starting in a non-audit/tax specialty. Though most graduates begin in public accounting, they typically work for three different employers and assume non-accounting/leadership roles early in their careers. Current salaries are positively related to Big N experience, years employed, starting in a non-audit/tax specialty, and having children, while they are negatively related to number of employers. Graduate degree coefficients are insignificant in current salary regressions. Whereas we do not see gender effects for starting salaries, we see significantly large negative effects for women in the current salary analysis.

Keywords: Educational outcomes, accounting graduates, starting salary, current salary, income, graduate degree, Big 4, gender wage gap, auditing, tax, survey

JEL Classification: I26, J31, L84, M41, M42

Suggested Citation

Frecka, Thomas J. and Mittelstaedt, H. Fred and Sustersic Stevens, Jennifer, Career Paths and Compensation for Accounting Graduates (February 15, 2021). Accounting Horizons, American Accounting Association, , Available at SSRN:

Thomas J. Frecka

University of Notre Dame ( email )

361 Mendoza College of Business
Notre Dame, IN 46556-5646
United States
574-631-8395 (Phone)

H. Fred Mittelstaedt (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame ( email )

374 Mendoza College of Business
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0399
United States
574-631-5087 (Phone)
574-631-5255 (Fax)

Jennifer Sustersic Stevens

Ohio University ( email )

College of Business Administration
526 Copeland Hall
Athens, OH 45701
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics