As we all know, being an accountant provides incredible stability. But sometimes you want a little more excitement and earning potential. So that begs the question, how can you increase your salary?

5 Tips for Increasing Your Earnings

You can make very good money as an accountant; however, so much is dependent on your location, industry, and experience.

According to U.S. News, accountants make a median salary of $71,550, while those in the top 25 percent earn $94,340. The lowest 25 percent comes in around $55,900 per year. But if you’re looking for a way to surpass these numbers, here are a few tips you can use to increase earnings:

1. Pursue a Niche

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Many accountants are wary of niching down and pursuing a particular type of client – particularly when they own their own practice or operate as a self-employed CPA. However, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

“Companies trust you with their most important financial information for a reason – you’re a respected professional in an industry that many find intimidating,” Rapidly explains. “By considering what types of companies you prefer working with, your experience in different industries, your own interests and skill set, and what types of businesses are plentiful in your area, you can find a profitable niche for your firm.”

For example, you might find that you only like working with entrepreneurs and startups because of the energy, excitement, and potential for growth. Other accountants might prefer established small businesses for their predictability and continuity.

You can also niche down based on location. This could look like only working with local companies. Or you could run a virtual practice where you serve international entrepreneurs who are moving their businesses to the United States. If a niche exists, you can tackle it.

While many accountants are afraid of missing out on opportunities due to narrowing their target market, finding a niche actually allows you to charge more. It makes it easier to earn clout and respect, which translates into beefier rates. So don’t be scared to get laser-focused on a particular market!”

2. Add a Side Hustle

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Accountants can have side hustles, too! You have skills that everyone can use, so why not monetize what you’ve got?

For example, you might do accounting for businesses throughout the year, but you could spend some extra time doing personal tax returns during March and April and make a few thousand bucks “on the side.”

In many situations, side hustles become large enough that accountants are able to integrate them into their businesses as permanent streams of income. In other scenarios, accountants discover that they like the side hustle more than their primary line of business. This can lay the groundwork for a pivot.

3. Get a CPA Designation

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You can make good money as an accountant, but you can make even better money as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In some cases, you’ll earn as much as $1 million more over the course of a 20- or 30-year career.

Becoming a CPA is a challenging process, but you can do it. You’ll need to pass the CPA exam – you can practice through a company like EfficientLearning – and meet a couple of other basic requirements in order to become certified. We recommend thoroughly researching the process and figuring out the best time to pursue your certificate (as it can take several months).

Once you have your CPA designation, you’ll want to tout it loud and proud. Simply including those three letters by your name (in all marketing, networking, and biz-dev initiatives) will give you an advantage over your peers.

4. Raise Your Rates

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It sounds simple, but why not raise your rates? While you probably can’t double your rate overnight, why not incrementally increase your rates as you grow?

For example, you should be able to increase your rates on current clients by something like 10 or 15 percent without much trouble. Then you can set a higher rate for new clients (perhaps 30 percent more than your standard rate). This combination of incremental increases can help you quickly grow your income in a fairly sustainable method that will continue to produce dividends for years to come.

In an ideal world, you can grow your business in a lean manner by increasing rates in a way that allows you to take on fewer clients. (It’s much less resource intensive to have 10 clients paying you $2,000 per month, than to have 40 clients pay you $500 per month.)

5. Get Serious About Networking

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Many accountants view networking as a chore when it’s actually an investment. In fact, it can be one of the most valuable investments you make in your entire career.

Whether it’s at local clubs (like your city’s Chamber of Commerce), online groups, or even professional masterminds groups, you never know where your next client or business opportunity will be found.

LinkedIn is arguably one of the best networking platforms available in today’s digital world, but it also happens to be the most underutilized by accountants. If you want to dramatically scale your network, dedicate 20 minutes per day to building your name on LinkedIn.

Step number one with LinkedIn is to brush up on your profile so that you have a clear and distinct personal brand. Step number two is to engage with your connections by liking, commenting, and sharing their posts. Step number three is to publish your own content as a way of adding value to your network. If you do these three things, you’ll reap your fair share of benefits.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

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The key to growing your income is to look beyond the short-term. Anyone can work their tail off for 12 months and improve their earnings over the course of a calendar year. But if you want to substantially grow your earnings over your career and enjoy a steadily increasing income, you have to make the right investments.

Whether it’s carving out a niche, adding a side hustle, getting your CPA designation, proactively raising your rates, or getting serious about networking, these are investments that must be made over and over again. Do the hard work today so that you can reap the rewards for years to come!