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Home  > Article

Salaries Up, But Gender Gap Widens

By Dona DeZube, JobsintheMoney

The Institute of Management Accountants' 2007 salary survey uncovered both good news and bad news for accountants. The good news: Average salary for IMA members now tops $100,000, having risen 6.9 percent last year. The bad news: The gap increased between men's and women's pay.

While the average salary for IMA's female members was $85,926, male IMA members earned an average of $109,171, the survey found. Taken as a whole, members' average salary was $101,805.

About three-quarters of the members received additional compensation--including bonuses and profit-sharing--of $25,413. Average additional compensation for men was $30,010. For women, it was $15,150.

The average total compensation for the over 1,500 IMA members responding to the survey was $120,972, an increase of 6.2 percent over the 2006 amount.

The average CMA member is 46 years old and has 19 years' experience in the field. Virtually all (99 percent) have a bachelor's degree, and 50 percent went on to earn an advanced degree. About half the members, 48 percent, hold a CMA, 36 percent are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and 9 percent have earned the IMA's Certified Financial Manager (CFM) designation.

Certification Pays Dividends

IMA President and CEO Jeff Thomson says the most important finding of the study is that members who hold the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation earn on average 24.5 percent more than those who don't have a CMA. Those with CPAs out-earn uncertified accountants by 28.5 percent.

"Members with both the CMA and CPA make 32 percent more than those with no certification," he adds. "Include the CMA as part of your suite of certifications, and you will increase your earnings potential as well as your career prospects and growth."

Gender Gap Starts Early

While certifications and advanced degrees lifted the compensation for both genders, men earned more than women at all levels of accounting. The earnings gap appears immediately after graduation and widens as women age. Between the ages of 19-29, female accountants' total compensation is 88 percent of men's. Between ages 30-39, that figure falls to 80 percent. The wage gap continues to widen for each successive age bracket, the study found.

With women accounting for half or more of all accounting graduates, will IMA be doing anything to support a closing of the salary gap?

"We're not going to comment on the glass ceiling and the real or perceived inequities," Thomson says. "We can make sure our association is open and inclusive and appealing to not only the old demographic or the new demographic."

Other Variables

What other variables that might influence accounting compensation? The women responding to the 2007 tended to be younger than the men (average age 47 vs. 44), were less likely to have a certification (60 percent vs. 72 percent) or an advanced degree (43 percent vs. 53 percent) and had not been in the field as long as men (17 years vs. 19 years).

"All of those will contribute to women earning less," notes study author and IMA member Dr. Karl Reichardt, CMA, associate dean and professor of accounting at Valparaiso University in Chicago.

Who Made the Most?

Not surprisingly, the highest total salary level was reported by members with top management positions. Top management (male) with a bachelor's degree earned $135,574, while women earned $96,256. Top management men with a master's degree earned $134,842, while their female counterparts earned $130,845.

Senior managers earned $110,671 (men) and $93,164 (women) with a bachelor's and $125,064 (men) and $95,592 (women) with a master's degree. Middle managers earned an average of $96,133 (men) and $81,103 (women) with a bachelor's degree and $107,082 (men) and $90,708 (women) with a master's degree.

Entry-level management accountants earned an average of $69,006 (men) and $68,827 (women) with a bachelor's degree and $78,138 (men) and $69,402 (women) with a master's degree.

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