By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015
Under Delaware law, associate’s degree holders who have completed at least 21 hours of accounting courses can become qualify for a permit to practice as public accountants. Public accountants often act as proprietors of their own independent tax preparation services but can also be found in accounting firms. Earning a bachelor’s degree, accumulating a total of 150 semester hours of college credit, passing the Uniform CPA Exam and fulfilling Delaware’s experience requirements can lead to the distinction that comes with being granted a CPA license from the Delaware State Board of Accountancy. With most bachelor’s programs consisting of just 120 semester hours of college credit, earning a master’s degree in accounting has become the standard path for aspiring CPAs looking to satisfy the credit hour requirement for licensure in Delaware.
CPAs can work as internal auditors, controllers, cost and capital accountants, managerial accountants, financial analysts, and business management consultants. As such, they are found throughout private industry in the state working for professional services and advisory firms like the Siegfried Group, LLP and for international companies like DuPont, which was founded in Wilmington. CPAs also manage huge portfolios for global investment companies and thrive among the many financial institutions and investment banks located in Delaware including BlackRock, Inc.; JP Morgan Chase, and INGDirect Bank, all three of which have offices in Wilmington.
Accounting is such a broad and ubiquitous field that it includes specializations for every personality type. Accountants more interested in social causes than profit margins specialize in nonprofit fund accounting and work for organizations like Nemours Children’s Hospital. Those more interested in keeping business free of improper conduct specialize in forensics. Risk managers take part in proactive prevention and compliance practices within companies like global insurance giant AIG, which has an office in Wilmington. Government accountants can be found at all levels of government in Delaware, from the New Castle County Finance Department, to the Delaware Army National Guard, also located in New Castle.
According to the United States Department of Labor, Delaware held the fourth highest concentration of accountant jobs in the country in 2014. This prevalence of accountant jobs signifies great employment opportunities for accountants in the coming years.
In 2012, there were roughly 4,670 accountants and auditors working in Delaware, according to the US Department of Labor. By 2022, the Department expects this number to grow to increase by 10%, creating an average of 180 job openings each year during this period.
Jobseekers looking to maximize their employment prospects may find the greatest options in the Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ metropolitan division, as this area was home to approximately 4,200 accountants and auditors in 2014.
Experience and credentials are directly related to how much an accountant can expect to earn in Delaware. For instance, accountants received an average annual salary of $74,280 and an average hourly wage of $35.71 in 2014. However, inexperienced accountants earned entry-level salaries closer to $43,100 annually, while moderately experienced accountants earned an average of $68,400 according to the US Department of Labor.
The most experienced accountants in Delaware are often those that hold CPA licenses. Accountants earning in the top 10% were awarded a much higher average annual salary of $112,000 as of 2014.
Geographic location of employment is another major factor affecting accountant salaries in Delaware. For example, in 2014 accountants practicing in the metropolitan division of Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ earned an average salary of $76,830, while those in the Sussex County nonmetropolitan received $64,100. Those working in Dover received an average annual salary of $57,760 in 2014.
It became national news when Delaware’s legislature passed laws enacting the Delaware Estate Tax effective for anyone dying on or after July 1, 2009. This was the state’s first estate tax in four years. It applies only to estates worth $3.5 million or more.
It is well known that Delaware is a state in which companies often incorporate. One of the main reasons that over 900,000 companies have incorporated in Delaware (including 63% of the Fortune 500 companies) is the fact that the flexible and business-friendly Delaware General Corporation Law, makes it easy for companies to incorporate here. This creates a great environment for business and the accountants that serve business needs.