Big 4 Accounting Firms Salary: Which Pays Most?

The Big 4 accounting firms are titans of the professional services industry. They employ thousands of employees around the world across practice areas including consulting, audit, tax, and more. That all is well known, but what is a Big 4 accounting firm’s salary like?

Let’s face it – a big reason we want the best jobs in the world is for the compensation. Not the only reason, but most people would be lying if they said that money wasn’t a consideration at all. We all want to get paid for the hard work we put in, right? Right!

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Big 4 Accounting Firms Salary Overview

To first discuss compensation for the Big 4, we first need to know who these firms are. They include:

  1. Deloitte
  2. PwC
  3. Ernst & Young
  4. KPMG

Each firm pays very close attention to what each pay but only slightly raise salaries over time. Overall, the Big 4 accounting firms’ salaries vary widely depending on department and location rather than the actual firm.

For instance, an associate consultant in the New York office will generally earn more than an audit associate in the Tokyo office. This is true both because of the function and location of the first individual. This will usually hold true across all Big 4 accounting firms.

The Big 4 Accounting Firm Salaries

Given that the Big 4 accounting firms provide essentially identical salaries to employees, you will find below compensation figures based on level, location, and practice rather than the details for each firm. Big shoutout to our friends at Big 4 Career Lab for providing this information after reviewing hundreds of salaries across Big 4 employees! For more consulting-specific numbers, including relocation, signing bonus, retirement match, and more, check out our 2019 Consulting Salaries report.

Associates

NYC Chicago Dallas Seattle
Audit / Assurance $61,000 $59,000 $56,000 $53,000
Advisory (Other) $72,000 $69,000 $67,000 $70,000
Consulting $88,000 $86,000 $81,000 $87,000
Tax $64,000 $61,000 $59,000 $61,000

Senior Associates

NYC Chicago Dallas Seattle
Audit / Assurance $79,000 $76,000 $72,000 $68,000
Advisory (Other) $94,000 $90,000 $87,000 $92,000
Consulting $116,000 $108,000 $105,000 $112,000
Tax $81,000 $79,000 $76,000 $77,000

Manager

NYC Chicago Dallas Seattle
Audit / Assurance $112,000 $108,000 $101,000 $98,000
Advisory (Other) $133,000 $123,000 $119,000 $129,000
Consulting $162,000 $159,000 $137,000 $157,000
Tax $118,000 $112,000 $106,000 $112,000

Senior Manager

NYC Chicago Dallas Seattle
Audit / Assurance $151,000 $147,000 $140,000 $132,000
Advisory (Other) $182,000 $172,000 $167,000 $175,000
Consulting $220,000 $215,000 $202,000 $217,000
Tax $159,000 $152,000 $147,000 $152,000

Managing Director

NYC Chicago Dallas Seattle
Audit / Assurance $274,000 $265,000 $252,000 $238,000
Advisory (Other) $324,000 $310,000 $301,000 $315,000
Consulting $396,000 $387,000 $364,000 $391,000
Tax $288,000 $274,000 $265,000 $274,000

Big 4 Partner Salary

No chart exists for partners because compensation varies so widely. A large part of partner compensation is tied to equity.

For reference, however, you can expect to make somewhere between $250,000 and $5 million a year. It’s a lot of money but it also takes roughly 13 to 17 years to get there! Rest assured though, if you are a Big 4 partner, your salary will be considerable!

Consider Fit Rather Than Compensation

Given that the Big 4 accounting firm salaries are nearly identical, what is more important to consider is not the money but the fit. If you are fortunate enough to have multiple offers from the Big 4 firms, you should carefully reflect on how you fit within each firm. Think about the people you enjoyed speaking most with and made you feel the most comfortable or inspired.

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