CPA Salary Certified Public Accountant

By Henry Steele - April 15, 2018
Reading Time: 12 minutes
Reading Time: 12 minutes

The following article discusses the career path of Certified Public Accountant. Learn about how to become one, education requirements, job duties, traits and qualities, national salary outlook as well as top national employers of Certified Public Accountants.

Job Duties

Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) deal with the accounting, audit processes, and tax reporting of individual clients, corporations, or governments. They have varying duties depending on who they work for. However, they often have to prepare documentation in relation to tax, audit, and finance, review financial information, and stay up to date with regulatory changes. They also often conduct audits and make recommendations to improve record keeping and bookkeeping.

Usually, CPAs will work in an office and their hours are often long. They can work in small or large firms, government organizations, or be self employed. Many specialize in a certain area of finance and accounting, such as valuation, auditing, taxes, or financial planning.

Other duties of a certified public accountant are:

  • To ensure all federal and state regulations are complied with
  • To interpret data to create financial statements and records
  • To ensure that records of financial activities such as taxes, profit and loss, liabilities, and assets are maintained following the generally accepted accounting principles
  • To study financial data for the creation of financial reports

Where We Work

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,397,700 accountants and auditors in 2016. The largest employers of these professionals are:

  • Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services: 25%
  • Government: 8%
  • Finance and insurance: 8%
  • Management of companies and enterprises: 7%
  • Self-employed workers: 7%

How to Become

Each state has its own specific requirements for those wishing to become a CPA. However, a bachelor’s degree plus additional credit hours is always required, which is why most complete a master’s degree. Additionally, they must pass the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) four part examination, after which they can become a CPA. They must then also meet their state’s individual licensing requirements.

They can file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) because they are certified. Becoming a CPA means that they have to complete education beyond their bachelor’s degree and pass the CPA exam. All CPAs have to pass this, which is why most have the master’s degree as this enables them to meet and exceed the 150 semester hours of coursework requirement for the certification examination. The CPA examination is offered by the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). CPA certification must be maintained through continuous education.

CPAs usually start their career at an entry level position and then grow into supervisory roles, becoming managers and eventually even partners. Some start as junior internal auditors or cost accountants, for instance, rising through the organization over time. It is also common for CPAs to move between internal auditing and management accounting so that they get more varied experiences.

Education Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum requirement, with a major in accounting, finance, or related field.

Those with a master’s degree are usually in higher demand, particularly those with a master in business administration (MBA) with an accountancy concentration.

Other certifications can also be beneficial for someone working as a CPA, including:

– Certified Management Accountant (CMA) offered by the Institute of Management Accountants
– Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)
– Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA) offered by the IIA
– Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) offered by the IIA
– Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) offered by the IIA
– Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) offered by the IIA
– Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) offered by ISACA
– CPA Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) offered by AICPA
– CPA Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) offered by AICPA
– CPA Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) offered by AICPA

Traits & Qualities

The most effective CPAs have the following traits to some degree or other:

– Strong analytical skills
– Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
– Detail oriented
– Excellent mathematical skills
– Strong organizational skills

Minimum Education

Bachelor’s Degree

National Salary

The national average salary estimate for Certified Public Accountant was $82,242. This number is estimated from over 1,705,536 employees, users past and present job advertisements from Indeed.com. This equates to an hourly salary of $42.83 and monthly of $6,854.

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$22,000

$180,000

Salary Distribution

Salary by State

The following section lists Certified Public Accountant salaries in each state around the country. The figures are based on the total number of job postings through Indeed.com. For example, Michigan had the largest quoted salary of $102,691 while South Dakota had the smallest quoted salary of $50,856.

AlaskaKentuckyNew York
AlabamaLouisianaOhio
ArkansasMassachusettsOklahoma
ArizonaMarylandOregon
CaliforniaMichiganPennsylvania
ColoradoMinnesotaRhode Island
ConnecticutMissouriSouth Carolina
DCMississippiSouth Dakota
FloridaMontanaTennessee
GeorgiaNorth CarolinaTexas
HawaiiNebraskaUtah
IowaNew HampshireVirginia
IllinoisNew JerseyVermont
IndianaNew MexicoWashington
KansasNevadaWisconsin
Alaska$70,614Rank: 35th
The average salary ranks 35th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Marcuson-Beck & Associates, LLC.

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$31,000

$125,000

Salary Distribution
Alabama$51,213Rank: 44th
The average salary ranks 44th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Aspire Staffing / Job Konnections, Express Employment Professionals, PANGEATWO, and Career Personnel of Birmingham.

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$15,000

$108,000

Salary Distribution
Arkansas$61,240Rank: 42nd
The average salary ranks 42nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Carter Recruiting and Associates, CyberCoders, Spherion, and Denman Hamilton & Associates, CPA, PLLC.

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$16,000

$134,000

Salary Distribution
Arizona$74,746Rank: 29th
The average salary ranks 29th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Roland and Associates, Parker and Lynch, CyberCoders, and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$23,000

$156,000

Salary Distribution
California$81,894Rank: 14th
The average salary ranks 14th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Mangrum Career Solutions, LLC, Gables Search Group, Vaco, and Consortium International.

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$21,000

$182,000

Salary Distribution
Colorado$73,888Rank: 30th
The average salary ranks 30th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like AppleOne, Triad Tax, CyberCoders, and Hire With Ease.

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$17,000

$170,000

Salary Distribution
Connecticut$95,452Rank: 3rd
The average salary ranks 3rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Greenhall Recruitment, Bohan & Bradstreet, Inc., Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Abramson & Company LLC.

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$30,000

$195,000

Salary Distribution
DC$83,711Rank: 12th
The average salary ranks 12th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Workforce Solutions Group, Global Employment Solutions, Beech Valley Solutions, and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$27,000

$170,000

Salary Distribution
Florida$78,829Rank: 18th
The average salary ranks 18th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Marcum Search LLC, GLC Group, and NextWave Resources.

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$22,000

$169,000

Salary Distribution
Georgia$85,521Rank: 8th
The average salary ranks 8th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like The Bolton Group, 4C Connect Inc., Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and The Royak Group Inc..

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$32,000

$164,000

Salary Distribution
Hawaii$55,617Rank: 43rd
The average salary ranks 43rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like ALTRES, Alliance Personnel Inc., and ALTRES Office.

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$22,000

$103,000

Salary Distribution
Iowa$62,978Rank: 39th
The average salary ranks 39th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Palmer Group, CyberCoders, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and KEO Associates.

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$16,000

$139,000

Salary Distribution
Illinois$84,399Rank: 9th
The average salary ranks 9th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Fast Search, Premier Financial Search, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and International Business Promotion, Inc. (IBP, Inc.).

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$24,000

$180,000

Salary Distribution
Indiana$75,806Rank: 28th
The average salary ranks 28th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CyberCoders, Express Employment Professionals, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Creative Financial Staffing.

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$30,000

$141,000

Salary Distribution
Kansas$85,607Rank: 7th
The average salary ranks 7th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CyberCoders, Marcuson-Beck & Associates, LLC, Personnel Services, Inc., and Specialists Group LLC, The.

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$17,000

$206,000

Salary Distribution
Kentucky$64,961Rank: 38th
The average salary ranks 38th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Vaco.

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$18,000

$141,000

Salary Distribution
Louisiana$69,220Rank: 37th
The average salary ranks 37th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Michael Choate Associates, CPAs, CyberCoders, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and AppleOne.

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$14,000

$167,000

Salary Distribution
Massachusetts$90,969Rank: 4th
The average salary ranks 4th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Kforce Finance and Accounting, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Stone Staffing, Inc., and ConfidentialPosting.

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$31,000

$181,000

Salary Distribution
Maryland$76,726Rank: 24th
The average salary ranks 24th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Represented by Beale Personnel, Inc., Creative Financial Staffing, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Goldin Group LLC.

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$27,000

$150,000

Salary Distribution
Michigan$102,691Rank: 1st
The average salary ranks 1st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Vaco, Premier Financial Search, CyberCoders, and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$22,000

$242,000

Salary Distribution
Minnesota$77,845Rank: 22nd
The average salary ranks 22nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like JP Staffing LLC, Masterson Staffing Solutions, Masterson Staffing, and JP Staffing.

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$17,000

$183,000

Salary Distribution
Missouri$76,495Rank: 25th
The average salary ranks 25th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, CyberCoders, Humans Being Resources, and Adecco.

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$21,000

$166,000

Salary Distribution
Mississippi$62,429Rank: 41st
The average salary ranks 41st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Express Employment Professionals and CyberCoders.

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$14,000

$146,000

Salary Distribution
Montana$72,650Rank: 34th
The average salary ranks 34th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Spherion.

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$26,000

$143,000

Salary Distribution
North Carolina$84,338Rank: 10th
The average salary ranks 10th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Kennedy Unlimited Inc, Professional Staffing, Premier Financial Search, iSearch Finance, LLC, and Xcentri.

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$25,000

$178,000

Salary Distribution
Nebraska$78,217Rank: 21st
The average salary ranks 21st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like NBN, Inc., Express Employment Professionals, CornerStone Staffing, and Broaden your horizons and learn more than just tax or audit / Clear path to Partner ** Hemphill Exclusive! Certified Public Acc.

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$31,000

$147,000

Salary Distribution
New Hampshire$73,554Rank: 31st
The average salary ranks 31st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Kforce Finance and Accounting and Carew & Wells, PLLC.

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$30,000

$135,000

Salary Distribution
New Jersey$86,966Rank: 5th
The average salary ranks 5th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Century Associates, Henderson Harbor Group, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Radix.

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$22,000

$193,000

Salary Distribution
New Mexico$69,547Rank: 36th
The average salary ranks 36th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Aerotek, Marcuson-Beck & Associates, LLC, Shoman Staffing Services, and Sabio Systems.

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$19,000

$149,000

Salary Distribution
Nevada$81,309Rank: 15th
The average salary ranks 15th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CyberCoders, Peter Hunt Corp, First Choice Business Brokers, and AppleOne.

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$24,000

$171,000

Salary Distribution
New York$97,514Rank: 2nd
The average salary ranks 2nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, VLPLUS, The Forum Group, and DeBellis, Catherine & Morreale.

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$26,000

$212,000

Salary Distribution
Ohio$72,741Rank: 33rd
The average salary ranks 33rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CyberCoders, Premier Financial Search, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Ohio Financial Company.

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$24,000

$148,000

Salary Distribution
Oklahoma$77,543Rank: 23rd
The average salary ranks 23rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CyberCoders, Parker and Lynch, Accountemps, and Marcuson-Beck & Associates, LLC.

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$21,000

$170,000

Salary Distribution
Oregon$79,977Rank: 16th
The average salary ranks 16th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Rachel@emeraldstaffing.com, curta, CandidateXchange, and Marcuson-Beck & Associates, LLC.

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$39,000

$135,000

Salary Distribution
Pennsylvania$72,775Rank: 32nd
The average salary ranks 32nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Century Associates, Staffing Service USA, Aarna Tech Solution, and firstPROIncPhiladelphia.

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$18,000

$163,000

Salary Distribution
Rhode Island$78,418Rank: 20th
The average salary ranks 20th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Complete Staffing Solutions and Gennex Resourcing.

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$36,000

$136,000

Salary Distribution
South Carolina$78,507Rank: 19th
The average salary ranks 19th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like AppleOne, CyberCoders, FGP International, and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$33,000

$143,000

Salary Distribution
South Dakota$50,856Rank: 45th
The average salary ranks 45th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Key Staffing.

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$15,000

$107,000

Salary Distribution
Tennessee$62,769Rank: 40th
The average salary ranks 40th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Vaco, CyberCoders, Millennium Search, and Aerotek.

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$15,000

$141,000

Salary Distribution
Texas$86,013Rank: 6th
The average salary ranks 6th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Vaco, 88solo, Z&A Recruiting, and Embark, LLC.

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$27,000

$178,000

Salary Distribution
Utah$82,911Rank: 13th
The average salary ranks 13th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Paramount Tax & Accounting CPAs, CyberCoders, Marcuson-Beck & Associates, LLC, and Cottonwood Asset Management.

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$24,000

$176,000

Salary Distribution
Virginia$79,291Rank: 17th
The average salary ranks 17th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Vaco, NewCareers, The Pursell Group, and Career Brokers, Inc..

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$30,000

$151,000

Salary Distribution
Vermont$76,441Rank: 26th
The average salary ranks 26th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Virtus Placement and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$33,000

$137,000

Salary Distribution
Washington$84,252Rank: 11th
The average salary ranks 11th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CyberCoders, Seattle Search Group, Marcuson-Beck & Associates, LLC, and Clinical Management Consultants.

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$27,000

$173,000

Salary Distribution
Wisconsin$76,420Rank: 27th
The average salary ranks 27th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CyberCoders, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Accounting Career Network, and Atwood Executives.

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$25,000

$155,000

Salary Distribution

Top 20 National Employers

According to Indeed.com, the following states had employers looking to hire a Certified Public Accountant. The quoted salary figure represents the average salary from all job postings by this employer.

Employer NameLocationAverage Salary

Learn More

Related Careers

Career NameAverage Salary

Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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