As an aspiring accountant, there are several factors that could affect your career opportunities and earning potential, including your education, experience and professional credentials, like a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. One factor in your career success that you might not think about immediately is location. Job availability and pay rate vary depending on the state in which you choose to work. Though both accounting salaries and job outlook are encouraging across the United States, there are some states where opportunities are especially plentiful or average salaries are unusually high. One way to learn more about the best states for aspiring accountants is to look at the data compiled by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Accounting Career Opportunities by Location
The states with the most accountants are California, Texas, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania. In California, the 138,600 accountants represent more than nine out of every 1,000 workers. The same is true for Texas, where there are 99,840 accountants; Florida, where there are 72,810 accountants; and Pennsylvania, with 54,180 accountants. New York, with its 99,750 accountants, has a higher rate of 11.55 accountants for every 1,000 workers.
You might be surprised, though, to find that the places with the most accountants don’t necessarily have the highest concentration of accountants. The location that tops the list isn’t a state at all. Washington, D.C., has only 11,140 accountants, but these professionals account for 16.73 jobs out of every 1,000. Colorado’s 31,690 accountants make up 13.81 of every 1,000 jobs. New York is the only state to rank in the top five of both lists of most accountants and largest concentration of accountants. Both Massachusetts, with its 35,280 accountants, and Virginia, with its 39,280 accountants, have concentrations more than 10 accounting jobs per 1,000 jobs.
State-by-State Salaries for Accountants
Just as employment opportunities vary by location, so does earning potential. Accountants in Washington, D.C., have the highest average annual salary in the nation, at $88,200. New York accountants follow close behind, earning an average of $87,260 per year. Next are New Jersey accountants, who make $83,930 on average. Accountants in Maryland, earning $78,300, and Massachusetts, earning $77,630, round out the top five states in terms of accountants’ average pay rate.
Some states employ large numbers of accountants or offer high salaries. However, the accounting profession as a whole has a job outlook slightly better than that of all occupations, as well as an average annual salary well above that of all professions, according to the BLS. While the requirements to become a CPA vary by state, including whether you can become a CPA with only a bachelor’s degree, most states now require 150 semester hours or five years of college study, according to the American Institute of CPAs. The benefits of pursuing an accounting career are greater in certain states, but with hard work and the right education you can achieve professional success in any state.