There are less accounting jobs available than in years past – but they're paying more

Individuals on the hunt for accounting jobs may be struggling to find the jobs that suit them: while pay rates are continuing to increase, some big city firms are slowing down their hiring practices.

While the accounting industry was marked by an employment boom last year, hiring rates in one city are slowing, according to research conducted by Crain's New York. The firm found that the number of accounting professionals at New York's largest firms failed to increase from statistics recorded during last year, after increasing more than nine percent between July 2011 and July 2012.

Hiring rates for finance careers, in fact, seem to be slowing down nationally. Fifty percent of all accounting, finance, and IT firms currently have unfilled staff positions, compared to the 33 percent who reported having some in early 2013, according to Brilliant's "Accounting, Finance and IT Hiring Forecast" for the fourth quarter 2013. Jim Wong, CEO of the firm, suggests that upcoming health care reforms could be having an effect on hiring rates, leading to businesses employing more temporary workers than full-time employees.

"During the Quarter 3 Hiring Forecast, we found most organizations were hiring temporary workers, which reflected a strategy to reduce costs under the regulations governing the Affordable Care Act," wrote Wong. "Because there has been a federal extension, this quarter's forecast show a substantial portion of respondents who are uncertain about how the healthcare law will affect their hiring decisions going into 2014. Between that and changes in workloads, respondents still expect a continuous hiring of temporary employees."

Crain's research did suggest that citywide hiring rates may pick back up in the coming years, however. Dawn Fay, district president at staffing firm Robert Half, noted that the continued stabilization of the economy could lead to firms hiring more new employees in the distant future.

"As the economy is coming back, things tend to normalize," Fay told Crain's. "When there's a lot of pent-up demand, the first year out, you'll see a bigger number of hires. What's going to happen next is that hiring is going to continue to pace itself with the movement in the economy, and people are going to wait a little while to continue hiring."

As job counts move lower, pay rates increase
While individuals searching for finance jobs in the accounting sector may find less opportunities in the coming months, the careers that are available may offer increased pay rates.

Salary data collected by the Robert Half staffing firm and reported by Crain's New York suggests that pay in the region's largest firms should increase by approximately four percent during the coming year. In fact, a number of different finance jobs in the area are expected to see increased salary rates: chief financial officer pay, for example, is expected to rise by more than 12 percent during 2014 when compared to figures from five years ago. The average pay for business analyst managers and controllers at the largest accounting firms in New York will also rise by roughly 4 percent during 2014.

However, professionals in the finance industry – and post-graduates on the hunt for their first career in finance – may do well by obtaining and accentuating specialized talents, as opposed to general knowledge. Robert Demeola, partner and chief operating officer at CohnReznick, told Crain's New York that his firm's hiring managers would be focusing their attention toward individuals with extremely specific talents.

"We're looking at specialized positions, bringing in those with expertise in international taxation, state and local taxation, and financial service," Demeola told the news outlet.