How much does an accountant cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much does an accountant cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much does an accountant cost?

$150 – $400average hourly rate (accountant / CPA)
$40 – $100average hourly rate (bookkeeper)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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$150 – $400 average hourly rate (accountant / CPA)

$40 – $100 average hourly rate (bookkeeper)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
Are you a service provider? Get new customers
Tara Farmer
Written by
Tara Farmer
Edited by
Jennifer Carlson
Fact-checked by
Kristen Cramer

Average cost of an accountant

An accountant costs $150 to $400 per hour on average for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Hiring a bookkeeper or junior-level CPA costs $40 to $100 per hour. The cost of an accountant depends on the location, business size, and services needed, as well as their education, experience, and specializations.

Accountant average hourly rate - chart
Accountant average hourly rate - chart
Accountant average hourly rate
National Average Cost $275
Minimum Cost $40
Maximum Cost $500
Average Range $150 to $400

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Accountant cost factors

The price you pay for accounting services depends on several factors, including:

  • Location: The hourly rates for accountants in big cities like New York or Los Angeles are often significantly higher than those in smaller cities or rural towns.

  • Services: Accounting prices vary based on the type of service. Services may include bookkeeping, tax preparation, financial planning, and auditing.

  • Experience & reputation: Most accountants increase their rates as they gain experience and clients. You may pay $50 to $150 per hour for a recently certified accountant, while a CPA with over 10 years of experience may charge up to $1,000 per hour.

  • Specializations: Accountants who specialize in a specific area and have relevant industry expertise often charge more.

  • Credentials: In general, the more educated the professional is, the more you'll pay for their services and expertise. Hiring a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a master's degree will cost more than hiring one without these credentials. While CPA is the most common certification, others include:

    • Certified Financial Analyst (CFA)

    • Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)

    • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

    • Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

    • Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

  • Business size & structure: Accounting for a large corporation is more complex and time-consuming than for a small business. Some accountants have tiered pricing based on the number of employees, the number of monthly transactions, or the amount of monthly expenses.

  • How much you DIY: The amount of time you spend on your business's accounting affects how much assistance you need.

An accountant reviewing a client's documents and making calculations
An accountant reviewing a client's documents and making calculations

Accountant fee structures

There are several ways an accountant may charge for their services:

  • Hourly rate: Accountant hourly fees range from as low as $40 per hour for a bookkeeper or entry-level accountant to as high as $500 or even $1,000+ per hour for a senior-level CPA who's been working in the industry 10+ years.

  • Fixed rate by month: Some accountants charge a flat monthly rate based on the size of your business and the services you need.

  • Flat fee per project: Even if you manage your own accounting, you may wish to hire an accountant for one-off projects, like annual tax preparation, auditing, or help creating a business plan.

Accounting cost by service

On average, small businesses spend $1,500 to $6,500 per year on accounting services. Larger corporations may spend upwards of $12,000 to $100,000+. Accounting costs vary depending on the business size and the number of employees, as well as how much and what type of accounting assistance the business needs.

The table below details the average price ranges for some common accounting services.

Accounting fees by service
Service type Average cost
New business setup $500 – $1,500+
Tax preparation cost $150 – $1,800+
Audit services $2,000 – $10,000+
Payroll services $70 – $500+ per pay cycle
Bookkeeping cost $200 – $1,000+ per month

Benefits of hiring an accountant

Though hiring an accountant adds to your immediate expenses, doing so can often save you money in the long run. Here are just a few ways an accountant may be worth the added cost:

  • Financial advice & planning: An accountant can analyze your finances and help you find ways to reduce costs and increase revenue.

  • Tax planning: They can help maximize your tax return as well as prevent tax problems and penalties.

  • Records management / bookkeeping: They can manage the financial side of your business so you have time to focus on other aspects.

Hiring an accountant vs. using accounting software

If accountant fees are not in your budget, accounting software offers a cheaper alternative to help you track income and expenses, keep accurate financial records, and reduce day-to-day bookkeeping tasks. Most accounting software requires a $10 to $50+ monthly subscription fee, depending on the business size and number of users.

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Using accounting software often helps to lower the cost of hiring a financial advisor or accountant for consulting and strategic planning. Having your financial information organized and streamlined within a software program reduces the hours needed to review and analyze your records.

Accountant FAQs

What do accountants do?

Accountants provide a wide range of financial services to individuals and businesses. Depending on the accountant's education level, experience, and specializations, they may offer some or all the following services:

  • Manage and maintain financial records.

  • Track revenue and expenses.

  • Audit a company's financial records.

  • Provide financial advice to improve efficiency, cut costs, and boost growth.

  • Create a budget and/or financial plan.

  • Generate financial reports and statements.

  • Ensure compliance with all regulations.

  • Prepare and file taxes.

  • Set up a business's bookkeeping and accounting system.

Will an accountant save me money?

If you own a business or have a complex tax situation, hiring an accountant can often save you money and time. A qualified CPA can look at your incoming and outgoing finances, help you find ways to cut costs, boost growth, and avoid tax penalties, ensuring you're in compliance with all regulations.

What is the difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper?

While some professionals use these terms interchangeably, accountants and bookkeepers serve two different functions. Bookkeepers deal with the day-to-day management of a business's financial transactions. Accountants then use that financial information to help a business with its long-term financial planning.

Bookkeeping and accounting are both necessary functions and businesses tend to have the best results when these professionals share information and work together. Some CPAs handle both bookkeeping and other accounting services.

When should I hire an accountant?

You should hire an accountant if:

  • You start a new business and need assistance setting up your accounting software.

  • You don't have enough time to do the ongoing accounting tasks for your business.

  • You need help with taxes and/or financial audits.

  • Your business has complex financial transactions that require a CPA's expertise.

Getting estimates from accountants

Before hiring a CPA firm or an accountant near you, determine exactly what accounting services you need. Then follow these guidelines to help you choose the most qualified professional for the job:

  • Get referrals from local business owners or colleagues, preferably those in similar industries.

  • Search the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) directory for local CPAs.

  • Ask for a free consultation to discuss your needs and goals.

  • Compare estimates from at least 3 reputable accountants.

  • Use the CPAverify lookup tool to confirm their credentials.

  • Check out CPA reviews on Lawful and Google.

  • Ask for references from past clients.

  • Ask about their fee structure and what services they offer.

Questions to ask an accountant

Asking the right questions can help you select the best professional for your accounting needs. Choose an accountant who answers your questions clearly and in a timely manner.

  • How many years have you been doing accounting?

  • What training, certifications, or specializations do you have?

  • What experience do you have with my specific industry?

  • Do you offer free consultations?

  • What specific services do you offer?

  • How do you calculate and bill for your services?

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