Accountant, Certified and Public
Average Salary: $63,550
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $2,653,000
You won’t be rolling in it if you are just working at an H&R Block or some Joe SixPack-consumer-focused firm. In order to charge more for your fine accounting services, you need to be able to show that you're saving the client more moolah. But you can still make a very nice living—in the ballpark of $75-$125k a year. However, if you take the high road (financially rather than morally) and join a major firm, you can bring home some serious bucks, well into the hundreds of thousands and millions as noted.
The bigger question is: World, how do I get there? Answer: Good schools, graduate degrees, many midnight candles burned to the wick. Accounting in large part is a fee-for-service business; that is, accounting firms bill $200 an hour for this vanilla flavored service; but if you want the cherry swirl treatment because you have assets in Romania, then it's $350 an hour. Wealthier clients tend to have more complex tax filings and that all spells PROFIT MARGIN for your firm. If you have a ton of clients from Bucharesti and you are the only gal in your firm who speaks truly fluent Romanji and/or French, you are likely to advance quickly and get paid for your very large brain.
If the firm can bill clients $300 an hour for your services and they are paying you $80 (times 50 hours a week = $4,000 or $200k a year), how hard would it be to ask for $100 an hour to bring your total to $250k a year? If they like you and you bring in lots of dough (re, mi), odds are good you'll get the pay hike. If you don't and you quit and go to a rival firm, you could bring clients with you and that's bad news for the guys billing out the $300 an hour. In any job, obviously, you're going to ask yourself, "How hard would it be to replace me?" Make it hard.
Last chance to leave a footprint.