The average Enrolled Agent salary in the U.S. is $52,645 according to Payscale Opens in new window. This is over $4,000 more than a non-certified tax preparer’s average salary. We’ll break down how much Enrolled Agents make throughout each stage of their career and cover how you can increase your earnings.
The average tax preparer salary is $48,564. Entry-level tax preparers make around $45,000 and can expect their salary to increase to $50,615 after gaining several years of experience. If you’re looking to speed up your salary gains without making a big career change, the best thing you can do is earn a professional designation, like the EA awarded by the IRS.
Many different things add up to give you the dollar amount you see on your offer letter or paystub—things like your experience level, job title, company size, and location, as well as any relevant certifications you have. This is good news because it means you’ve got options when you’re looking for ways to increase your salary! Here’s how the major salary factors break down, plus our advice for making the most of your tax preparer or tax accountant career. The best ways to increase your salary are to:
The biggest step you can take to increase your salary as a tax preparer is to become an Enrolled Agent. Earning the EA designation can add the equivalent of years of experience to your resume and will boost your average annual salary by around $4,000. That’s a larger salary gain than you’d get by changing to a larger firm, moving across the country, or even gaining years of experience!
Another way to boost your salary and solidify your expertise is to become dual-certified. Whether you’re just getting started as an Enrolled Agent or are already a CPA wanting to specialize in tax, dual certification is the best way to help yourself stand out from the crowd.
If you’re applying for your first tax preparation job, your experience includes your education and any relevant extracurricular activities you participated in (such as the IRS’s VITA program). Once you get your first job, experience starts to include actual time working in the industry and your accomplishments at work.
As you progress in your career, your salary will naturally increase. For each stage of your Enrolled Agent career, you’ll see an average salary increase of 8.38%.
Enrolled Agents are tax experts, and this expertise is valuable in any position that requires a high level of tax knowledge. According to Payscale, popular Enrolled Agents jobs include:
Large firms are willing and able to pay a premium to attract top talent. The larger the company, the higher the pay for a given role, and the better defined your career path will be.
The most highly specialized Enrolled Agent probably isn’t going to be earning as much at a smaller organization as they could at a larger one. Some larger organizations pay their entry-level Enrolled Agents more than smaller organizations pay experienced Enrolled Agents.
It’s difficult to give a dollar value to other forms of compensation, but it’s important to consider them. Compensation and company culture vary wildly across employers, but similarly-sized organizations tend to have a few things in common:
Offer more flexibility and greater access to management, giving individuals a greater say in the perks and fringe benefits available.
Offer some benefits (e.g., gyms, cafeterias, and daycare) that smaller firms can’t reasonably fit into their budgets.
Big 4 Accounting Firms
If your goal is to work at one of the Big 4 accounting firms, the Enrolled Agent designation is one way to stand out from other applicants. Learn how becoming a tax expert can help you excel at firms of all sizes on our Enrolled Agents at the Big 4 blog.
It’s really a personal choice what size company you want to work for, but you should consider benefits that can affect your quality of life.
For example, daycare can be a considerable expense for young working families. 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 freedom to pursue their own ideas.
According to the 2022 Robert Half Salary Guide Opens in new window, hiring trends in accounting and finance continue to favor the job candidate. Firms are looking to fill entry-level positions, so recent accounting grads and young professionals are in a great position to get their first accounting job. Firms are especially interested in candidates with technology skills that can be applied to growing areas like cloud systems and data analysis. Managers are looking for new ideas and are prepared to provide the necessary on-the-job training to prepare new hires for success. 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.
The bigger the city, the higher the median EA salary. Big cities have more job opportunities and a larger pool of skilled workers, but they also typically have a higher cost of living, 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 to make a living as an Enrolled Agent.
Find a place you want to live or a firm you want to work for and then use the table below to inform your salary expectations.
|Average Enrolled Agent Salary|
Becoming an EA is one of the best investments you can make in your career as a tax preparer. The benefits you’ll gain from earning the EA designation will far outweigh the cost of taking the EA exam. In addition to the salary benefits, you’ll also enjoy increased representation rights so you can expand your client base and the services you can offer. Plus, the EA designation signals a high level of expertise that will cement your status as a valuable expert on tax topics.