How Much Money Does a CFO Make?

by Dana Severson

Chief financial officers are responsible for the financial success of organizations. While duties can vary by company, they generally oversee the financial planning, monitor the financial risk and forecast future financial needs of their employers. Salaries are almost always in the six figures.

Salary Ranges

In 2012, the average chief executive brought home $176,840 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, a survey by Robert Half Finance & Accounting, a national financial recruiter, found that earnings for CFOs vary greatly based on the size of the organization. For example, companies with annual sales under $50 million will pay CFOs a base of $101,000 to $146,000 per year, as of 2014. With annual sales of $50 million to $100 million, salaries increase to $116,000 to $167,000 per year CFOs at companies with sales of $100 million to $250 million will earn a base of $142,000 to $204,000 per year, while those at companies with sales of $250 million to $500 million will earn a base of $199,000 to $297,500 per year. CFOs at companies with annual sales of over $500 million topped the list and are expected to bring home $284,000 to $449,000.

Local Variances

As with any career, earnings vary by location. In Denver, salaries were nearly 3 percent higher than the national average. A CFO at a company with sales under $50 million is now looking at a salary of $103,828 to $150,088 per year. In Minneapolis, salaries are 5.5 percent higher than the national average. At a company with sales under $50 million, CFOs will earn between $106,555 and $154,030. In Miami, salaries are expected to be nearly 7 percent higher than the national average, bringing salaries up to $107,767 to $155,783, according the Robert Half. The same, however, can’t be said for CFOs in Indianapolis,where salaries are 6 percent lower than the national average. In Indiana, a CFO at a company with sales under $50 million can expect to earn $94,940 to $137,240.

Total Compensation

These salaries are actually much lower than what CFOs actually bring home for the year, as a large portion of their total compensation comes from bonuses and incentives. A survey by Grant Thornton, a U.S. advisory firm, sets the average CFO salary at $286,500 per year at a public company. Factoring in bonuses and incentives, total compensation averaged at $599,702 per year. Within the S&P 500, earnings were even higher, with CFOs making a median of $3.4 million per year, as of 2012, according to the BLS. The CFO of Apple topped the list, earning $68.6 million, while the CFO at Oracle earned $51.7 million. The CFO at Google ranked a distant third, earning $38.7 million.

Career Outlook

The BLS expects employment opportunities for CFOs to be rather limited, with an average job growth of just 4 percent from 2010 to 2020. This is almost four times slower than the national average, which has a projected growth of 14 percent. Expect significant competition for available positions, largely due to the high pay and prestige that comes with such an occupation.

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.

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