Top 10 Countries with the Highest Salaries for Accountants

female accountant using calculator

While accounting may not represent the most exciting career choice in the world, there’s no doubting that it’s definitely one of the most lucrative. If you have a head for numbers and enjoy the corporate lifestyle, then what accounting lacks in adventure, it more than makes up for in solidity and career opportunity.

The big dilemma, however, is where do you start? Where do you pursue your dream career? Do you stay at home or do you move abroad? And if so, where?

With these questions in mind, we’ve done the research for you and put together a list of the 10 best countries with the highest salaries for accountants. This is what we found.

10. United States

Aerial panorama of Manhattan in New York Cityrabbit75_dep / Depositphotos.com

Average salary: $54,680 (£41,720)

Primary accounting standard: US GAAP (IFRS permissible for foreign listed companies)

If you already live in the US, then chances are you don’t need to look elsewhere.

Chartered accountants, known in the States as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), are among the highest-paid in the world. It’s a profession that is massively in demand, too, with accounting roles set to grow at an ‘above average rate’, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

All of this is good news for domestic number crunchers, as well as those who are considering relocating to the US, especially if you are planning to work in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Georgia, Texas or Michigan – judged the best states for accountants in 2019.

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field if you want to follow the CPA route as well as pass the four-part CPA exam, while internships are a great way to get your foot in the door at a good firm such as the programme offered at PwC.

9. Iceland

Aerial view of downtown Reykjavik in IcelandHannamariah / Depositphotos.com

Average salary: $55,260 (£42,170)

Primary accounting standard: IFRS

As one of the highest-paying countries in the world, Iceland is a great place to take your accounting career – provided, of course, that you can handle the harsh winters and sense of isolation.

Despite its small size and remote location, all of the major accounting players have offices there, as well as established local practices across the island. As in most international accounting firms, you should be able to get by in English, although in order to practise as a licensed accountant, you will need to become a member of the national regulatory body, the Félag Löggiltra Endurskodenda (FLE).

8. Japan

Shinjuku Crossing in Tokyo at nightmrsiraphol / Depositphotos.com

Average salary: $56,870 (£43,400)

Primary accounting standard: IFRS, JMIS, US GAAP, Japanese GAAP

With a reputation as a strongly business-oriented culture, it’s no surprise that Japan makes an appearance on this list; the financial and professional services sector is a key driver in the country’s economy.

If you are relocating to Japan as a foreign national, then your English language skills will be highly sought-after, although you will also need a good working knowledge of Japanese. In order to register as a licensed practitioner under the Japanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (JICPA), you will need to sit several exams, all of which are in the host language.

7. Austria

An electric tram outside the Imperial Court Theatre in Viennapandionhiatus3 / Depositphotos.com

Average salary: $56,910 (£43,420)

Primary accounting standard: IFRS

As one of Central Europe’s most financially stable countries, Austria is a prime destination for an accountant; given its location and proximity to key financial clients in Switzerland and Germany, it’s also a smart career move.

You’ll likely need a strong working knowledge of German before you make the move, while you’ll also need to be a member of the Institut Österreichischer Wirtschaftsprüfer in order to practise as a CPA.

6. Luxembourg

A bridge over Alzette River in Luxembourg CityTReinhard / Depositphotos.com

Average salary: $56,940 (£43,450)

Primary accounting standard: IFRS

Given the lucrative nature of the finance industry in Luxembourg, it’s perhaps surprising that the Grand Duchy is so low down on this list. Accountants can still do very well for themselves, though, with the country hosting several European Union institutions alongside its many banking clients.

Licensed accountants from elsewhere within the European Economic Area (EEA) (including Switzerland) are permitted to practise in Luxembourg, although sole practitioners and business owners must notify the government. Any knowledge of French, German or Dutch is also considered a bonus.

5. British Virgin Islands

Aerial view of Road Town in Tortola, British Virgin Islandsdisorderly / Depositphotos.com

Average salary: $60,140 (£45,890)

Primary accounting standard: IFRS

As a small paradise island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, few workplaces are as desirable as the British Virgin Islands. With a population of just over 30,000, it’s a world away from the traditional metropolitan finance hubs of Europe, Asia and the US.

Despite its holiday vibes, though, the BVI are a significant port of operations in the financial world; as a so-called tax haven, thousands of offshore entities are registered there, ensuring there is plenty of work available for accountants and lawyers.

4. Bermuda

Boats in the bay of Hamilton, Bermudarusty426 / Depositphotos.com

Average salary: $69,130 (£52,750)

Primary accounting standard: IFRS (other standards are permitted)

Another British Overseas Territory, Bermuda – located in the North Atlantic Ocean, some 600 miles east of North Carolina – has a population of just over 70,000 people. Aside from its unpredictable weather, though, the country is perhaps best known for its role as an international tax haven (Bermudan companies do not pay corporate income tax).

Like the BVI, this offshore industry means that there are plenty of career opportunities – and plenty of money to be made, too, with many large accounting and professional services firms setting up operations there.

3. Monaco

Aerial view of Monte Carlo in Monacobukki88 / Depositphotos.com

Average salary: $71,000 (£54,170)

Primary accounting standard: No information available

Despite its limited size (only Vatican City is smaller), Monaco – playground to some of the world’s wealthiest people – is another important financial location. Due to its low constraints on business, it is another popular tax haven for registered companies.

Monaco is now also a major banking centre, with the private banking, wealth and asset management divisions of some of the world’s top banks taking a particular interest in the area. This, in turn, means that there is plenty of valuation work for accountants, while the glitz and glamour of Monaco’s luxurious surroundings make it an appealing place to relocate.

2. Switzerland

Aerial view of Zurich in Switzerlandsborisov / Depositphotos.com

Average salary: $88,570 (£67,570)

Primary accounting standard: IFRS (other standards are permitted)

As one of the most important financial locations in the world, it’s little surprise that Switzerland is ranked so highly on this list. With an economy that is built upon finance, banking and professional services, Switzerland is one of the most highly sought-after destinations for accountants.

Depending on where in Switzerland you choose to relocate, you will need to brush up on your language skills (German, French and Italian are all widely spoken). According to the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), though, only auditors are subject to regulatory scrutiny.

1. Cayman Islands

A public beach in George Town, Cayman Islandsdclloyd61 / Depositphotos.com

Average salary: $89,430 (£68,230)

Primary accounting standard: IFRS (other standards are permitted)

Although there are several jurisdictions on this list designated as tax havens, the largest – and highest-paying for accountants – is the Cayman Islands. Yet another British Overseas Territory, the Islands – located just south of Cuba and the Dominican Republic – host a population of nearly 65,000, with the majority based in the capital George Town.

Many international businesses and wealthy individuals are registered or have their assets listed there, with trillions of dollars’ worth of liabilities passing through the island. Naturally, given the nature of the business done there and the figures involved, there is plenty of money to be made for chartered accountants.

Of course, there is more to consider when moving abroad than simply money. You also need to consider how it will benefit your career and if it is compatible with your personal life. But if you are looking to introduce a little adventure into your career, then these locations will at the very least ensure you’re well recompensed.

What about you? Where would you like to work? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Salary figures are averaged from estimates given by PayScale and Average Salary Survey.

Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com.

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 2 December 2014.

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