A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Alabama

By an AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015

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Alabama’s Board of Public Accountancy requires CPA candidates to have a baccalaureate degree, at minimum, from a program consisting of 150 credit hours. These 150 hours must consist of 33 hours in accounting (excluding introductory courses), 27 hours in business courses (excluding accounting), and 3 hours in business law. With most bachelor’s programs consisting of just 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting can provide the 30 additional credit hours in advanced accounting coursework required for licensure in Alabama. Applicants interested in becoming accountants with CPA credentials must be U.S. citizens, but do not need to be current residents of Alabama.

Alabama is a two-tier state. This means that candidates who pass the CPA Exam receive a certificate, but will then need to document appropriate work experience before being issued a license that grants the recipient permission to practice. The amount of experience required varies based on the type of experience, but is generally the equivalent of one year of full time employment in public accounting.

Employment Trends for Alabama’s Accountants

According to the United States Department of Labor, there were roughly 15,970 accountants and auditors employed throughout Alabama in 2012. By 2022, this number is expected to reach nearly 17,670. This 11% employment growth change equates to an average of 640 annual job openings for accountants and auditors during this ten-year projection period.

As of May 2014, there were 4,610 accountants and auditors working in the Birmingham-Hoover area alone, representing the highest concentration in the state, followed by Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile, and Tuscaloosa.

In 2014, the United States Department of Labor published occupational wage reports showing that accountants employed in Alabama received an average annual salary of $$65,960 and an average hourly wage of $31.71. However, in that year, Dothan was the fourth highest paying metropolitan area for accountants in the entire country. Here, accountants earned a much higher average annual salary of $89,980 and an average hourly wage of $43.26.

Salary averages for Alabama’s major metropolitan and nonmetropolitan regions are as follows:

  • Huntsville: $71,840
  • Decatur: $67,770
  • Birmingham-Hoover: $67,150
  • Tuscaloosa: $66,990
  • Gadsden: $65,820
  • Anniston-Oxford: $63,280
  • Mobile: $63,200
  • Montgomery: $62,880
  • Southeast nonmetropolitan area: $61,730
  • Southwest nonmetropolitan area: $61,260
  • Northwest nonmetropolitan area: $60,970
  • Florence-Muscle Shoals: $59,060
  • Northeast nonmetropolitan area: $58,830
  • Auburn-Opelika: $54,270

Specialty Certification held by Alabama’s Accountants

  • CMAs (certified management accountants) are employed in many companies that are located here. These include esteemed companies like L-3 Communications Display Systems in Huntsville, ITT Technical Institute in Bessemer, and BAE Systems in Mobile.
  • CFEs (certified fraud examiners) work as forensic accountants for accounting firms like Ernst & Young with offices in Birmingham or the esteemed Robert Half Finance & Accounting U.S. in Huntsville.
  • PFSs (personal finance specialists) work as personal financial advisors at firms such as Edward Jones located in Birmingham.
  • CFPs (certified financial planners) plan long-term investments and strategies for clients and are employed with companies like First Command Financial Services in Birmingham.

Alabama Accountancy News

The Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants’ (ASCPA) Educational Foundation recently provided scholarships to one student at each of the Alabama colleges and universities that offer accredited accounting programs. This philanthropic move was done in an effort to strengthen the connection between ASCPA and area educators. This scholarship program also promotes the professional designation by recognizing top candidates in the field as they work to satisfy the educational requirements of CPA licensure.