A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Arizona

By an AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015

Find Accounting Programs Here

The requirements for CPA licensure as set by the Arizona State Board of Accountancy consists of four major steps:

  1. Education through a bachelor’s or graduate degree program consisting of at least 36 semester hours of accounting credits, at least 30 or which must be non-introductory course credits, as well as an additional 30 business course credits (With traditional bachelor’s programs only including 120 semester hours, online master’s degrees in accounting have made earning the full 150 semester hours required for a CPA license more accessible.)
  2. Work Experience that involves one year of full-time supervised employment within the practice of accounting
  3. CPA Exam components (financial accounting, business environments, auditing, and regulations) must be passed within a rolling 18 month period
  4. Ethics Exam must be passed with a score of 90% or better

Arizona’s CPAs work for “Big Four” international CPA firms PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, KPMG, and Ernst & Young, all of which have offices in Phoenix. National firms such as Clifton Gunderson in Phoenix also have a strong presence in the state.

Featured Undergraduate Program

*Accredited accounting programs are available in a flexible online format that puts an undergraduate degree in accounting well within reach. Prepare to earn your CPA license and develop the skills employers are looking for with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Featured Graduate Program

*Qualifying for a CPA license requires a bachelor’s degree at minimum and a total of 150 semester hours of college credit to include coursework in accounting, business and ethics. Since bachelor’s programs typically result in just 120 semester hours of credit, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) maintains that earning a Master of Science in Accounting is the best way to achieve the full 150 semester hours you need to become licensed.

Prominent CPA and consulting firms that are locally based include Semple, Marchal & Cooper in Phoenix, Nordstrom and Associates in Tempe, Shutte and Hilgendorf in Prescott, and Pinpointe Accounting Services in Tucson. Not all accountants pursue the CPA designation, and as such often work for tax and business consulting firms that provide bookkeeping services. ECL Consulting in Tucson is amongst the Arizona based accounting firms that retains non certified public accountants.

Employment Growth Trends for Accountants in Arizona

Accountants in Arizona can expect tremendous employment growth in the coming years. In 2012, the United States Department of Labor found Arizona supporting 19,740 accountant and auditors jobs. By 2022, the federal government predicts closer to 24,270 accountants and auditors will find employment opportunities here.

This long-term occupational projection indicates a 23% employment growth change in this ten-year period, which is 10% higher than the national average for these professionals. As a result, accountants and auditors can look forward to approximately 1,040 annual job openings in Arizona. The best job prospects are most likely available in the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area as this region employed 14,820 accountants as of 2014- the highest number by far of any area in the state. Additional geographic employment statistics for that year include:

  • Tucson: 2,200
  • Southeast nonmetropolitan area: 440
  • North nonmetropolitan area: 410
  • Flagstaff: 300
  • Prescott: 250
  • Yuma: 180
  • Lake Havasu City-Kingman: 150

Salary Statistics for Accountants in Arizona

As of May 2014, accountants employed throughout Arizona earned an average annual salary of $64,440 and an average hourly wage of $30.98. However, local employers tend to offer newly hired accountants salaries that reflect their level of experience. For instance, entry-level accountants received an average annual salary of $37,800, while more established accountants received an average mid-career salary of $58,300. The most experienced accountants were awarded a far greater average salary of $98,200.

Geographic placement of employment can largely influence how much money an accountant can expect to earn. Average salaries in Arizona’s main metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas are as follows (US Department of Labor, 2014):

  • Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale: $66,400
  • Southeast nonmetropolitan area: $64,750
  • Yuma: $59,250
  • Tucson: $57,220
  • Prescott: $54,750
  • North nonmetropolitan area: $53,510
  • Lake Havasu City-Kingman: $52,420
  • Flagstaff: $50,870

Arizona Accountancy in the News

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords made many friends in the Arizona Society of CPAs by working on Arizona budget issues as a state legislator before being elected to the U.S. Congress. In a blog post following her attack, an Arizona CPA called Giffords a “friend of the Arizona Society of CPAs...she listened to us and asked us questions about business, taxes, and financial matters”.

Everyone in Arizona recognizes the traditional and iconic Kachina doll of the Hopi Indians of Arizona. Many years ago, the Arizona Society of CPAs adopted the Accountant Kachina as its logo. In the logo the traditional doll is depicted as holding an Indian tally rope to symbolize counting, and a quill pen meant to symbolize the careful and thoughtful nature of accountants.