Salary progression and career progression are two common things that prospective Deloitte UK audit employees are interested in. An audit role in a Big 4 firm like Deloitte will attract a strong opening salary and present a clear path to more senior roles and the higher salaries associated with them.

An entry-level auditor at Deloitte in the major city offices can expect to earn approximately £30k per year. Once qualified as a Chartered Accountant, a Deloitte Auditor can expect to be earning over £45k per year. After this point, the salary becomes more closely tied to performance.

When I joined a Big 4 audit firm back in 2015, I remember being very interested in how my salary would grow over time and what role I could find myself in after 3, 5 or even 10 years. With this in mind, I have pulled together the below post which lays out exactly where Deloitte audit employees can expect to be in their careers and what salary they’ll be able to earn at each stage.

What is the normal career progression in Deloitte UK audit?

Typical career progression within Audit at Deloitte UK involves 3 years as an Audit Associate until fully qualified, 2 years as an Assistant Manager, 2-3 years as an Audit Manager, 2-5 years as a Senior Audit Manager and the rest of the audit career as a Director or Partner.

Whilst it’s true that career progression will vary between employees based on each individuals performance and the availability of positions within a department, there is a fairly uniform career route within audit at Deloitte UK.

The most common route into audit within Deloitte UK is via the graduate scheme programme which starts after graduation from University and allows employees to gain a professional accountancy qualification over three years with a professional body like ICAEW or ICAS.

There is also the BrightStart Apprenticeship programme which is a University alternative that allows those leaving school to join Deloitte straight from school and “earn while you learn” whilst earning a professional accountancy qualification.

At the end of the qualification periods, the employee would be a fully qualified Accountant and be promoted to Assistant Manager.

Assistant Managers begin to take on the management of the day to day practicalities of an audit and will be responsible for the work allocation of audit juniors.

An Assistant Manager could expect to be promoted to Manager after 1.5 – 3 years depending on performance and staffing requirements within the department.

Once an Auditor progresses to the Audit Manager level – they take on greater responsibility and become the key liaison with the client and oversee the general direction of the audit whilst also managing the expectations of the Audit Director or Partner on the engagement. At this stage, career progression becomes less predictable and less correlated to years served and more down to individual performance and reputation within the department.

A top-performing Manager can be promoted to Senior Manager in as little as a year but this is rare and 2 or 3 years is more realistic.

A Senior Manager has similar responsibilities to a Manager albeit with larger or more complex engagements on their docket. There is often an expectation that a Senior Manager will be more involved in the leadership of the audit department at this stage of their careers, whether this is in a people-focused or audit-quality specific role.

The Senior Manager role is typically where many people hit a ceiling with limited scope for the most senior roles in the department. For this reason, Senior Managers can be in their role from as little as one year before promotion to five years plus in some cases.

The final two roles in a Deloitte UK audit department are Directors and Partners who both fulfil similar roles in that they are the staff who will ultimately sign the audit opinions.

The progression to an Audit Partner (and therefore a profit share participant) tends to be due to the individual’s impact on clients and the wider department as well as a bit of office politics.

How long does it take to qualify as a Chartered Accountant in audit at Deloitte UK?

It takes three years for a graduate-scheme employee and five years for a BrightStart Apprentice to qualify as a Chartered Accountant at Deloitte UK assuming all exam and working day requirements are met. The practical process for applying for certification typically takes one to two months to finalise.

Graduates will typically be on a 36-month training contract and will be fully qualified once all exams have been passed and the required number of training days logged. At the end of the 36-months, both the professional body and a certifying member of the audit department will sign the training file to enable the graduate to become fully qualified.

My advice would be to maintain your training file throughout the 36-month training contract to avoid this hurdle when it comes to getting your file ready for sign-off.

How much can a first year graudate trainee earn in audit at Deloitte UK?

A first-year Deloitte UK graduate trainee working in audit can expect to earn a salary of around £30,000 per annum. This would typically be accompanied by a year-end bonus of £1,000 dependent on wider firm performance.

Generally speaking, this is a really high entry-level salary which will be reflected by a high workload and significant stress. This role will still earn you more than most graduate positions but is not as competitive as industries like equity research and investment banking despite some graduates reporting that they work similarly gruelling hours.

Unlike other financial industries, the typical bonuses are comparatively low at around £1,000 per year. At this stage of the career, bonuses will not fluctuate based on performance and will be pretty uniform across the year group. The bonus pot may shrink or grow based on if the firm has had a particularly good or bad year.

For a BrightApprentice, the starting salary will be approximately £20,000. This is notably lower than graduates starting salary reflecting the value of the graduate’s University education. £20,000 per year straight out of school without a degree is still a good starting salary, particularly when the paid-for professional qualification is taken into account.

Salary progression

How much can a second year graduate earn in audit at Deloitte UK?

A second-year Deloitte UK graduate trainee working in audit can expect to earn a salary of around £31,000 per annum. This would typically be accompanied by a year-end bonus of £1,000 dependent on wider firm performance.

A £1,000 annual salary increase from £30,000 in the first year to around £31,000 in the second year represents a small percentage increase. Whilst most audit trainees will be far more useful members of the team by this stage, the annual pay doesn’t fully reflect this increased importance.

For this reason, year 2 is often considered the worst year in terms of the contribution to remuneration ratio.

How much can a third year graduate earn in audit at Deloitte?

A third-year Deloitte UK graduate trainee working in audit can expect to earn a salary of around £35,000 per annum representing a greater year-on-year increase than between years 1 and 2. This would typically be accompanied by a year-end bonus of £1,000 dependent on wider firm performance.

A £4,000 salary bump works out as an annual increase of around 13% which does reflect the far greater impact and responsibility that 3rd-year trainees (also known as Senior Audit Associates) will have.

The bonus will stay consistent throughout the training contract at around £1,000 a year and won’t meaningfully change until promotion to the Assistant Manager position.

How much can a newly qualified Accountant (Assistant Manager) earn in audit at Deloitte UK?

A newly-qualified Assistant Manager in audit at Deloitte will earn in the region of £45,000 per year which is around a 30% year-on-year increase. Assistant Managers will also be entitled to a larger share of the annual bonus pot and can expect around £2k per year depending on wider firm performance.

After qualifying, Deloitte auditors will have to face the choice between continuing in audit and working as an Assistant Manager or leaving to work outside of practice. Generally speaking, qualified accountants from Deloitte can expect to earn more outside of the audit firm in the short term but the career progression opportunities may not be as predictable or lucrative as at Deloitte.

A high performing Assistant Manager could earn a promotion to Manager within as little as 1.5 years which incentivises many to stay on within the audit department.

Once Assistant Managers reach their second year of being in the role, their salaries will likely increase to close to £50,000 per year depending on individual performance and location.

How do post-qualification audit salaries at Deloitte compare to the other Big 4 firms in the UK?

Compared with the other Big 4 audit firms, Deloitte UK pays a similar level of salary across the board. At the more junior levels, Deloitte is rumoured to pay slightly less than both KPMG and EY who have recently reviewed and increased their junior level salaries.

Whilst all four members of the Big 4 pay similar salaries to their employees, Deloitte does appear to pay marginally less than the others in the more junior positions (Audit Associates and Assistant Managers).

At Manager and Senior Manager level and above, Deloitte pays broadly in line with the other members of the Big 4, albeit with individual differences arising through external hiring, incentivising talented staff and performance.

As alluded to below, Deloitte pays the most of the Big 4 firms at Partner level on average.

salary progression

How much can an Audit Manager earn at Deloitte UK?

A Deloitte Audit Manager will earn in the region of £55k in the first year of the role which can increase to £60k+ after a year in the role. Managers will also be entitled to a larger share of the annual bonus pot and can expect around £3-5k per year depending on wider firm performance.

Once Deloitte UK audit employees reach the Audit Manager level, the salaries become more aligned to the individual’s performance and broader impact on the department. So whilst a brand new Audit Manager can expect to earn around £55k in the first year, this will vary.

For example, a strong performing Assistant Manager may attract a higher starting salary as a Manager than average if they have agreed to manage a significant client.

How long will it take to become an Audit Manager at Deloitte UK?

At Deloitte UK, it will take around 5 years to progress from a graduate new-starter to Audit Manager. This will involve a 3-year training contract and then 2 years as an Assistant Manager. For those starting as an Apprentice, it will take 7-8 years to reach Audit Manager.

How much can an Audit Senior Manager earn at Deloitte UK?

A Deloitte Audit Senior Manager will earn in the region of £65-70k in the first year of the role which can increase to £80k+ as they develop and depending on performance. A Senior Audit Managers additional compensation including cash bonuses can vary significantly with a lower limit of £5k per year.

An Audit Senior Manager is a senior role within the Audit Departments, outranked only by Directors and Partners. Senior Managers will typically manage the largest engagements and have a wider role within the department such as driving department-wide quality initiatives.

The salary and bonus expectations at the Senior Manager level tend to have more variability and be more difficult to predict with any real accuracy. A first-year Senior Manager could reasonably expect to earn total compensation (basic pay plus bonuses and benefits) of at least £75k per year.

How long will it take to become an Audit Senior Manager at Deloitte UK?

At Deloitte UK, it will take around 7 years to progress from a graduate new-starter to an Audit Senior Manager. This will involve a 3-year training contract, 2 years as an Assistant Manager and 2 years as a Manager. For those starting as an Apprentice, it will take 10 years to become a Senior Manager.

How much can an Audit Director earn at Deloitte UK?

A Deloitte UK Audit Director will earn around £100k in the first year of the role, depending on performance and longevity. Audit Directors bonuses can vary significantly but generally speaking Audit Directors will not be part of the profit share as an Audit Partner would be.

How much can an Audit Partner earn at Deloitte UK?

The majority of Deloitte UK Audit Partners compensation comes in the form of a profit-sharing arrangement rather than a salary. This fluctuates based on the performance of the wider firm but as per The Guardian, Deloitte paid its Partner’s an average of £731,000 last year.

It’s important to note that this is an average and is skewed by particularly high earners. My instinct would be that an ordinary Audit Partner without any additional firm-wide responsibilities would be toward the lower end of this average, likely in the 200-300k per annum range.

Whilst Deloitte pays good salaries across the board, it should be clear that to earn a truly outstanding salary, it’s necessary to progress to the Audit Partner level which is a hugely difficult task.

How long will it take to become an Audit Partner at Deloitte UK?

At Deloitte UK, it will take around 15 years to progress from a new-starter to Audit Partner but this is highly variable based on individual performance and can be both shorter in some cases and much longer in others. Many Deloitte audit employees never make it to Partner and top out as Audit Directors.

Unlike other roles in the Audit department, becoming an Audit Partner isn’t as simple as putting the time in and doing a reasonably good job. Only those in the department who are genuinely impactful and have the right temperament and nature to own the firm end up becoming Partners. It is quite common for Audit employees to progress to Director level and then hit a ceiling either through choice or not having the necessary qualities of a Partner.

Is it hard to find a secondment when working in Deloitte UK audit?

Whilst working for Deloitte UK in audit, it can be difficult to arrange a secondment to another part of the Business. Whilst it is fairly common and something a lot of audit graduates strive for, audit departments don’t want to lose their key resources, making seconding difficult.

My advice to those looking to transfer away from Audit to another department after qualification is to make this known as early as possible. If you leave it until the last minute, the audit department management will have had no time to plan for losing you as a resource and not be particularly receptive to helping.

It will also be necessary to cultivate a relationship with someone in the department you are looking to join to have someone to advocate for you on the other side.

As always, please remember I am an Accountant, but not your Accountant. In this post (and all of my others) I share information and oftentimes give anecdotes about what has worked well for me. However, I do not know your personal financial situation and so do not offer individual financial advice. If you are unsure of a particular financial subject, please hire a qualified financial advisor to guide you.

This article has been written by Luke Girling, ACA – a qualified Accountant and personal finance enthusiast in the UK. Please visit my About page for more information. To verify my ACA credentials – please search for my name at the ICAEW member finder. Please comment below or contact me here to get in touch with questions or ideas for future posts.