What Kind of Raise Can a New CPA at a Publicly Traded Company Expect?

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Hello Adrienne, 

Since you were very helpful (brutally so) last year when I needed advice, I figured I'd ask for more. I recently passed the CPA exam and am working as an Internal Auditor for a large publicly traded company. My manager recently followed up on his promise to give me a raise, however he was unsure of an amount and I was at a loss for what to ask for.  What is the value of the CPA certification in private accounting? I like my job, and I don't plan on leaving the company if my raise is not incredibly high, mainly because I've been there for less than a year and want to make a vertical rather than lateral move if/when I leave. However, I would like to know what is a "competitive" amount. From what I've read a CPA should add 10-15% but, I feel like that is high if I'm not in public accounting.  Any advice you could give me in steering my boss toward an appropriate amount would be great as nothing has been finalized yet. 
 
– Unsure About How much to ask for. 
First, congratulations on passing the exam. Second, congratulations on not being a money-grubbing dbag. Sure, money is awesome and you've certainly earned it but it sounds like your expectations are reasonable which is good. That means you won't be as let down when you realize the CPA isn't worth as much as you think it is.
 
The real question here is: how happy are you at your current job? If they offered you a laughable 5%, would you stick around?
 
While the value of your new certification is much higher in public where the amount of slave work they can milk out of you directly correlates to whether or not you have those three letters after your name, your current employer should also see the value of having a CPA on staff. Your loyalty is worth something too, as is the quality of work you provide, both of which are not something we cannot judge here. Only you know what you're worth.
 
I would aim high and negotiate down if you have to. That said, you cannot simply say, "I think I deserve 20%" and leave it at that but if you can build a good case for the value of your CPA, asking for 15% as an opener wouldn't be all that crazy. That'll leave you room to work your way down to 10% and still come out with a pretty decent chunk of change for your time and effort.
 
To make your case, not only does passing the exam show the kind of discipline employers salivate over but it also opens you up to new professional opportunities ifyoufeelme. No need to rub it in that you can easily bail at this point to go make more money somewhere else but it wouldn't hurt if you hint at it. Make it clear that you want to stay for the long term.
 
If they supported you through the process, by paying for your prep and/or exam fees, it shows they already understand what your CPA is worth to them. If they're also willing to cover your AICPA membership fees and other professional development like CPE, they're making an investment in you as an asset to their organization. On the other hand, if the CPA was your idea and they've been completely unsupportive throughout your journey, don't expect them to suddenly understand why you're more valuable with a CPA.
 
Ultimately it depends on A) your output – are you any more efficient or knowledgeable having passed the CPA?; B) your market – are you in third-world Detroit or recession-proof DC? and C) your value to the company post-CPA. Does your CPA have a material impact on your employer's bottom line or is it just a worthless piece of paper as far as they are concerned? If I ran out and got my CPA tomorrow, my employer wouldn't pay me any more because the only accounting function I perform as manager is payroll. I don't need a CPA to do that. Are there things you can do for the company now that you couldn't without your CPA? Keep all that in mind when you're making up a figure.
 
Now, can someone out there in a similar situation tell this guy what kind of raise you got when you got your CPA?

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