The Florida Board of Accountancy is responsible for licensing Florida’s CPAs and, in accordance with the Uniform Accountancy Act, requires applicants to have a bachelor’s degree at minimum with a total of 150 semester hours of college credit, a year of experience, and passing scores on the Uniform CPA Exam. While satisfying the experience requirement, many CPA licensure candidates also begin working to earn a master’s degree in accounting to satisfy the semester hour requirement for CPA licensure in Florida.
Major employers of CPAs in the state include public accounting firms Crowe Horwath, LLC located in Fort Lauderdale, as well as “Big Four” international CPA firms KPMG with offices in Miami and Ernst and Young with a location in Tampa.
CPAs involved in investigative accounting are credited with building the body of evidence responsible for prosecuting both white-collar crimes and the illicit money laundering activities of organized crime syndicates. Forensic accounting is emerging as one of the hottest jobs in accounting, and in Florida, major accounting firms like the Sanford Barrows Group, LLC as well as Miami’s U.S. Marshals Service, retain these professionals for their unique investigative expertise.
According to the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, one of the biggest areas of employment for Florida’s accountants is in the world of big business. Corporate accountants serve as accounting managers, internal auditors, and financial control officers for the many fortune 500 companies headquartered here, including Fidelity National Financial in Jacksonville and the corporate offices of specialty retailer Office Depot located in Boca Raton. Financial advisers serve institutions like Edward Jones in Orlando or JPMorgan Chase, which has a corporate office in Tampa.
The field of accounting is experiencing strong growth in Florida as Wall Street firms relocate their accounting offices to areas like Jacksonville where operational costs and tax rates are lower. For instance, the number of Deutsche Bank employees in Jacksonville increased from 600 to 1000 between the end of 2009 and July 2012 according to the New York Times.
The financial services industry is seeing a renaissance in south Florida, growing four times faster than in the rest of the country according to a January 2015 article in The Miami-Herald.
Not only are accounting salaries high in Florida, but the state’s businesses and wealthy families help support many jobs for accountants and auditors according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2014, Florida was home to the fourth highest number of accountants and auditors in the country. In particular, Tallahassee had the highest concentration of accounting jobs of any city in the nation.
The number of accounting positions is increasing faster in Florida than in the US as a whole. The total number of accounting positions in the state is expected to increase by 14% between 2014 and 2022, creating 25,424 jobs over this period according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Salaries for Accountants, CPAs and CFOs in Florida
The median salary among accountants in Florida was $100,194 a year in 2015 according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. That is 53% higher than the national median for 2014 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). Experienced accountants in Florida with CPA licenses earned an average of $124,987 a year in 2015.
Accountants in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area working in the financial services industry with more than five years of experience earned between $75,365 and $95,230 in 2015 according to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide.
The salaries of controllers at small financial services firms in Tampa ranged from $89,240 to $146,955. Forensic accountants in Orlando earned between $70,785 and $110,385 according to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide.
The highest average salary in the field was reserved for Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), who typically have many years of experience in management accounting and hold CPA licenses. CFOs at financial services firms in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area earned salaries ranging from $165,850 to $294,250 according to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide.
Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in Florida’s Cities and Rural Areas
Salary data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that accountants and auditors in the Panama City area had the highest average salary in 2014, while accountants and auditors in the nonmetropolitan area of South Florida had the second highest average salary.
The 90th percentile in each area is representative of salaries for experienced accountants with CPA licenses.
Tax Preparer Salaries Throughout Florida
The average salary of Florida’s tax preparers varied dramatically depending on their location. Tax preparers in the North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota area had by far the highest average salary in Florida in 2014:
Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed into law a back to school sales tax holiday designed to encourage spending during the month of August. For a few days each August, no sales tax will be charged for clothing expenditures up to $75 or for the purchase of school supplies up to $15. Because consumers usually spend money on other items while shopping for back to school items, the state actually expects to collect an extra $7 million in tax revenue during this tax holiday.
The governor also recently instituted a military property tax exemption for active duty military members. Under this new law, military servicepersons do not have to pay Florida property tax on their homesteaded property while deployed outside of the United States. This applies to troops actively engaged in Operations New Dawn, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.