The finance careers index highlights the top areas in the USA for the best schools to study finance and accounting, locations with the most job opportunities, salaries by state and profession, and the highest graduate salaries currently available in every region.
With businesses rapidly growing and new challenges facing workplaces, business heads are investing in new adaptive technologies to power their finance teams for more efficient processes and automation. More finance professionals are adopting AP automation software to rapidly scale and adapt to changing business needs, accelerate business visibility, and strengthen fraud, financial, cost, and cash controls. With more remote workforces and vendors across the world, using global payments to power finance operations is critical.
The Best States to Pursue a Career in Finance
From accountant careers to financial analysts, we investigated the top-scoring states based on university rankings, job availability, and salaries.
|Accounting Jobs||Finance Jobs|
|Rank||State||Population||Total||Per 100,000 People||Total||Per 100,000 People||Accounting and Finance Average Salary||Average World University Rankings Accounting and Finance Score||Finance Career Score /10|
1. New York
Career Score: 9.65 out of 10
New York, home to the “The Big Apple” also welcomes a host of opportunities within the financial sector, and scored top place in our ranking with an impressive score of 9.65 out of 10. Research in 2022 found that New York led the way in its accounting and finance positions with a 7.7% growth rate, the highest projection for any US state or territory.
New York topped the list with 50 accounting positions and 45 finance jobs available on Indeed (per 100,000 people). The average salary in the accounting and finance sector in New York is an estimated $117,000 a year, the highest for any state. New York also had the highest score for its performance in the accounting and finance discipline at New York University, with an impressive overall score of 79.70 out of 100.
Career Score: 8.80 out of 10
Minnesota trailed behind New York with a score of 8.80 out of 10 in the running of the best states to pursue finance careers. In 2021, research found that in the years following the recession, the total number of finance and accounting employees in Minnesota increased by 6%.
Minnesota scored most notably for its university performance in the finance discipline, where the University of Minnesota had an overall score of 62.80 out of 100. The state also has good job prospects, with 51 accounting positions and 37 in finance (per 100,000 people).
Career Score: 8.76 out of 10
The Midwestern state of Illinois came third in the ranking, following just behind Minnesota with a score of 8.76 out of 10. The state has an excellent average salary for accounting and finance jobs, at around $114,000 a year, the second highest behind New York.
Finance and accounting jobs are plenty in the state, with 41 in finance and 52 in accounting (per 100,000 people). The state did lose points for its university rankings within the finance discipline, and the average overall score fell to 35.70 out of 100.
The Regions with the Highest Finance Graduate Salaries
We looked at the average starting salary for finance or accounting majors in every US region to get an idea of the areas offering the highest starting salaries for graduates.
|Rank||Region||Accounting||Finance Mean Salary|
|1||Rocky Mountain/Far West||$61,920||$64,777|
1. Rocky Mountain/Far West Region
Accounting Graduate Salary: $61,920
Finance Graduate Salary: $64,777
The Rocky Mountain/Far West region in the US had the highest average salaries for both its accounting and finance graduates. Graduate starting salaries in accounting jobs averaged $61,920 a year, and in finance at $64,777 respectively.
The Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. spreads across national forests in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. States in the Far West include; Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
2. New England Region
Accounting Graduate Salary: $61,500
Finance Graduate Salary: $64,050
Graduate salaries in accounting start, on average, at $61,500 a year, and in finance, $64,050. New England is a northeastern region of the United States comprising the states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
3. Mideast Region
Accounting Graduate Salary: $60,183
Finance Graduate Salary: $63,100
Salaries for accounting graduates in the Mideast region range from $60,183 a year, and $63,100 in the finance sector. The Mideast region occupies the northern central part of the United States and includes Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The Best Paying Jobs for Finance Graduates
Graduate jobs within the finance sector are not easy to come by and it can be tough to enter the industry, as people with all kinds of degrees and backgrounds apply to finance roles as a golden stepping stone. Because of this, the best-paid jobs for finance graduates were analyzed on a national scale.
|Rank||Job Title||Number of Openings||Annual Salary ($)|
|2||Entry Level Tax Preparer||760||90,918|
|9||Patient Access Manager||50||42,280|
Annual Salary: $104,972
Out of all the finance graduate jobs in the United States, according to Indeed, controllers had the highest average salary of $104,972 per year in the United States, with 20,800 salaries reported in April 2023. Financial controllers are responsible for preparing a company’s financial reports, which include balance sheets and income statements.
Controllers with a finance degree tend to receive a higher salary of +6.53%, and those holding a FINRA license or financial acumen skills will also benefit from a higher wage.
2. Entry-Level Tax Preparer
Annual Salary: $90,918
Second in the ranking for the highest-paid graduate jobs are entry-level tax preparers, receiving an average salary of $90,918 per year in the US. There are 760 open vacancies for this role across the US. Some cities offered higher salary packages including Lynnwood in Washington which had an average salary of $96,796 per year and Portland, Oregon, with annual wages of $91,930 a year.
3. Senior Accountant
Annual Salary: $78,704
Finance graduates working at a senior level in accounting earn an average salary of $78,704 annually, with 29,500 salaries reported. Some of the highest-paying cities for this role included San Francisco in California at $97,264 per year and New York City at $88,286 a year. California offers a higher salary to senior accountants compared to the US average of between +15% and +24%. Benefits for this role include tuition reimbursement, employee discount, profit sharing, and opportunities for advancement.
The number of job listings in each state for ‘accounting’ and ‘finance’ was taken from Indeed on 28/03/23. The number of listings was compared to the population to get the number of jobs per 100,000 people.
The average salary for a person working in accounting and finance was taken from the Salary Comparison By State on Salary Explorer. This data is accurate as of 29/03/23.
The university rankings in each state were taken from The Times Higher Education World University Rankings using the filters to add the United States and the Accounting and Finance discipline, taking the average score of every university by state. Where there was more than one university offering the subject, an average of every overall score was taken.
For the graduate salaries, the NACE Salary Survey 2022 was used to find the starting salary for finance and accounting majors in every region.
The best-paying finance graduate jobs and salaries were taken from Indeed using the ‘accounting’ filter, which was collected on 04/04/2023.