Enrolled agent salary data shows that the average enrolled agent’s salary in the U.S. is $48,558. This is around $7,000 more than their non-certified peers in similar positions.
While many factors go into determining the salary of tax preparers, the single biggest step you can take is becoming an enrolled agent (EA). This one step will boost your average annual salary by around $7,000. This is greater than the average salary boost provided by moving across the country, changing to a larger firm, or even by gaining years of experience!
To put this into perspective, the average entry-level tax preparer makes $36,365. After several years of experience, their average salary would be $40,888. This is a smaller salary bump than the one becoming an enrolled agent can give you. This one certification can add years of experience to your resume.
If you are applying to your first tax preparation job, your experience is reflected in the level of education you have and any relevant extracurricular activities (such as the IRS’s VITA program ).
The average salary for an entry-level enrolled agent is about $41,480, but it can span from $26,000 to $54,000 depending on where you live and work.
Once you get that first job, experience starts to include actual time working in the industry, your accomplishments, and so forth.
Throughout your career, your salary will naturally increase. In general, each stage of your career as an enrolled agent will see a 9.25% increase in your salary.
As with almost all professions, the complexity of an enrolled agent’s role, as well as their experience level, is going to have a great influence on expected salary. Generally, the amount of experience you have is the single most important factor when determining your salary.
Enrolled agents are tax experts. As such, any position that requires a high-level of tax knowledge can be filled by an enrolled agent. Common positions for enrolled agents include:
The most highly specialized enrolled agent probably isn’t going to be earning as much at a smaller organization as they would at a larger one. At the same time, there exist some larger organizations that pay their entry-level enrolled agents more than smaller organizations pay experienced enrolled agents.
Large firms are willing and able to pay a premium to attract top talent. Generally speaking, the larger the company, the higher the pay for a given role, and the better defined your career path will be.
It’s difficult to give a dollar value to other forms of compensation, but it’s still important to mention here. Compensation and company culture vary wildly from employer to employer, but similarly sized organizations tend to have a few things in common:
It’s really a personal choice when you decide what size company you want to work for, but you need to account for benefits that can affect your quality of life.
For example, daycare can be a considerable expense for young working families, and an on-site daycare could save thousands of dollars and dozens of hours in commuting each year. At the same time, some people dislike the bureaucracy that comes with larger organizations, and they’re happier at the end of the day if they have more leeway to pursue their own ideas.
According to the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide, hiring trends in accounting and finance continue to favor the job candidate. The guide reported that firms across industries are increasing compensation and “Skilled accounting and finance talent is in short supply, and top candidates frequently field multiple job offers.” Some companies are offering bigger bonuses, more perks, and additional vacation time in order to attract excellent candidates. This is a great time to go into accounting, and becoming an enrolled agent will help you land an even bigger starting salary than you could without it.
If you’re looking to get into one of the Big 4 accounting firms, you might be surprised to hear that the enrolled agent designation is one way to stand out. Learn how becoming a tax expert can help you excel at firms of all sizes on our enrolled agents at the Big 4 blog.
In general, the bigger the city, the higher the median salary for an EA. There’s more competition, more opportunity, more capital in cities, and a rising tide lifts all ships. That said, the cost of living is higher in metropolitan areas, some more so than others, so location isn’t everything. If you dislike the cold and aren’t comfortable in a big city, you don’t have to live in New York or Chicago.
It is advisable to first find a place you want to live or a firm you want to work for and then allow the adjustments in the table below to inform your salary expectations.
Regardless of the location, enrolled agents earn on average $7 ,000 more annually than their non-certified peers.
|Average Enrolled Agent Salary|
The benefits of becoming an EA make it clear–getting your credential is one of the best career decisions you can make as a tax preparer. It far outweighs the cost of the EA exam. Your salary package will vary depending on the position you work in, your location, and your experience level. By choosing wisely for yourself, you can enjoy a satisfying and prosperous career as an enrolled agent.