Employers Seek Help with Credit Crunch and Boomer Retirements

October 23, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The job market may be tight, but accounting and finance professionals who can help firms work through the current credit crunch and pitch in to address the surge of baby boomer retirements are in high demand, according to the 2009 Salary Guides from Robert Half International.

Overall, the 2009 research forecasts a salary increase of 3.4% for finance and accounting staff, the company said in a press release. Companies are showing the most interest in professionals who can help their firms reduce inefficiencies and enhance profitability, and those who are familiar with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)also are marketable.

According to the press release, three in-demand finance and accounting positions recognized by Robert Half are:

  • Staff and senior accountants – Companies are hiring accountants to oversee core duties such as maintaining the general ledger, performing account analysis and reconciliation, correcting journal entries, and performing the monthly close. Demand is strong for CPAs with at least three years of experience. Starting salaries for staff accountants at large companies (more than $250 million in sales) who have one to three years of experience, for example, are projected to range from $44,500 to $57,250.
  • Public accountants – Public accounting firms continue to look for highly skilled professionals to help clients address fundamental accounting, tax, and audit issues. Firms seek experienced accountants who can help offset an anticipated acceleration in baby boomer retirements in coming years. Starting salaries for senior accountants in tax services at small public accounting firms (less than $25 million in sales) are forecast to range from $54,000 to $69,250.
  • Credit and collections specialists – The current credit crunch has made companies even more cognizant of the critical role of the credit and collections functions in managing credit risk and collecting from delinquent accounts. Organizations are hiring professionals who can help reduce inefficiencies and enhance profitability. Credit and collections clerks at midsize companies ($25 million to $250 million in sales) are expected to see starting salaries of $29,250 to $37,500.

Robert Half also found that demand for highly skilled administrative professionals remains steady, and starting salaries are expected to rise 2.6% in 2009. Applicants with industry experience, technical aptitude, multilingual abilities, and professional certifications are highly sought.

In-demand administrative positions recognized by Robert Half include:

  • Customer service representative – Customer service representatives are expected to see starting salaries ranging from $22,750 to $31,000 in the coming year.
  • Data entry specialist – Starting salaries for data entry specialists are projected to range from $22,000 to $27,750 in 2009.
  • Administrative health care positions – Positions in high demand include: medical file clerk/scanner, medical secretary, patient registration/admissions clerk, and credentialing specialist.

IT unemployment remains low relative to many other occupations. Overall, IT salaries are expected to increase by 3.7% next year, Robert Half's research found.

Three in-demand IT positions are:

  • Web developers - The rise of social media and the expansion of companies' online presence, Web 2.0 initiatives, and interactive Web functionality have fueled further growth in Internet technologies, creating a strong demand for Web developers. These professionals can expect to see starting salaries in the range of $60,000 to $89,750 in the coming year.
  • Programmer analysts - IT professionals with skills such as .NET, SharePoint, Java, and PHP are at a premium across companies in all industries, including healthcare, finance, and manufacturing. These workers are needed to write code, test and debug software applications, and analyze business application requirements for functional areas across the organization. The salary range for a programmer analyst is expected to be $60,000 to $100,750.
  • Help desk professionals - Companies are implementing a wider range of technologies, migrating from older operating systems and upgrading desktop systems. This is contributing to the demand for professionals who can troubleshoot software and hardware problems. Base compensation for Tier 2 help desk professionals, for example, is projected to range from $36,750 to $48,250.

"Companies highly value employees who can identify cost efficiencies, develop long-range business strategies and maximize the use of technology," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, in the press release.

The new salary guides include the 2009 Salary Guide from Robert Half International for accounting and finance positions, produced by Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources; the Robert Half Technology 2009 Salary Guide for technology professionals; and the OfficeTeam 2009 Salary Guide for administrative positions.

More information is at http://www.rhi.com .