Accountants Have a Pay Party

Average total compensation rose 4.2% for IMA members in 2010.

After two straight years when average pay increases for corporate accountants trailed the inflation rate, a healthy gain was recorded in 2010, according to the annual salary survey by the Institute of Management Accountants.

The IMA’s membership is diverse: 20% senior executives, 37% directors or controllers, 27% staff accountants and analysts, and 16% other practitioner roles or educators. But the survey should paint an accurate picture of broad salary trends for the profession, since there were 1,505 participants and the IMA says it has followed the same survey methodology for years. That includes making sure the participant base reflects the member breakdown and various other demographics.

The membership’s average total compensation climbed to $128,486 in 2010, 4.2% more than the previous year (see chart below). Also, 66% of respondents reported receiving a salary boost last year, a big spike from 46% in 2009.

Still, average total compensation was only 6.2% higher than in 2007, the last full prerecession year. And most of that increase seemingly was rendered moot by inflation, which totaled a cumulative 5.2% during that three-year period, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. IMA president and CEO Jeffrey Thomson notes that many organizations, including the institute, froze salaries for at least part of the 2008–2009 period.

Thomson says the higher increase in 2010 reflects recovering corporate profits and, he claims, an increasing premium placed on the institute’s Certified Management Accountant designation and professional certifications in general.

IMA Compensation survey

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