A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Georgia

Certified public accountants hold bachelor’s degrees to meet minimum licensing requirements, but often go on to earn graduate degrees in order to earn the full 150 semester hours required for licensure through Georgia’s Board of Accountancy. This is because most bachelor’s programs include just 120 semester hours, making a master’s program in accounting perfect for filling the gap and developing the advanced accounting skills necessary to become a CPA. They are found throughout the accounting and management teams of corporations, as well as operating independent practices of their own or working for world class CPA and business consultation firms including the “Big Four” – KPMG, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers – all of which have offices in Atlanta. Becoming a non-certified public accountant with more limited practice privileges does not require licensure from Georgia’s Board of Accountancy.

Managerial accountants, financial controllers, cost and capital accountants are also bachelor’s or graduate degree holders found throughout private industry, including the many Fortune 500 companies that call Georgia home. The biggest employers of corporate accountants in Georgia continue to be the Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Atlanta that have become household names; retailer Home Depot, UPS and Coca-Cola. Corporate Accountants are found working in many capacities and for many different types of businesses, whether seeking to maximize profits as part of management teams for transportation giant Gulfstream Aerospace in Savannah, or specializing in performing internal compliance audits in the corporate headquarters of Sun Trust Banks in Atlanta. Insurance giant and Fortune 500 company, Aflac, with headquarters in Columbus, is also a leading area employer of both corporate management accountants and actuarial accountants.


Government accountants usually hold a bachelor’s degree and sometimes a state-issued CPA license. Accountants are found in the Georgia Department of Public Health Accounting Office in Fulton County and the Georgia Department of Human Resources in Albany, among many other state and municipal government agencies.



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Job Growth and Salary Expectations for Accountants in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Labor lists accounting as one of its hot careers through 2022 based on the field’s high wages, fast job growth, and high level of annual job openings expected through 2022.  Atlanta had the sixth highest employment level for accountants of any city in the country in 2014 according to the US Department of Labor. 

Corporate accountants are in particularly high demand in Georgia since such a large number of prominent companies are located in the state.  The Georgia Department of Economic Development reported that twenty Fortune 500 companies had their global headquarters in the state in 2015, supporting jobs for controllers, management accountants, internal auditors, staff accountants and more.  This includes such large companies as Home Depot, UPS, Coca-Cola, and Delta Airlines. 

The Georgia Department of Labor predicts a high level of job growth for accountants in the state.  It expects the rate of job growth in this field to be 23% between 2012 and 2022—1.77 times higher than the national rate of growth for accountants.  This level of job growth should generate 10,114 accounting positions during the ten-year period of their analysis.

Salaries for Georgia’s Accounting Professionals in a Number of Specialty Areas

The US Department of Labor reported that the median salary for an accountant in Georgia was $68,800 in 2014.  This was $2,900 higher than the national median salary for this field.  Experienced accountants in the 90th percentile of this occupational category earned an average salary of $119,200. 

The 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide provides more detail on the salaries of different types of accounting positions.  For instance, corporate accountants with large firms who had more than five years of experience earned the following in 2015:

  • Atlanta: $72,188 - $92,138
  • Savannah: $57,750 - $73,710

Forensic accountants in Macon earned between $60,060 and $93,660. Controllers at large financial services firms in Macon earned salaries ranging from $127,260 to $162,120 a year in 2015.

Chief Financial Officers in Georgia are extremely well paid for their expertise, which frequently includes having a CPA license. These salaries tend to differ depending on the size and revenue of the employer. CFOs in corporate accounting firms in Atlanta earned the following salaries based on company revenue:

Revenue of Employer
Minimum
$500 million + revenue a year
$305813
Up to $50 million revenue a year
$110513

Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in Georgia’s Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan areas

The US Department of Labor indicated that general accountants and auditors in Atlanta had a substantially higher average salary than their colleagues throughout the rest of the state in 2014:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Albany GA
410
67530
Athens-Clarke County GA
460
57610
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta GA
27070
79000
Augusta-Richmond County GA-SC
1200
65760
Brunswick GA
240
69660
Columbus GA-AL
750
74460
Dalton GA
390
70520
Gainesville GA
440
67450
Hinesville-Fort Stewart GA
60
64670
Macon GA
560
64700
Rome GA
150
70420
Savannah GA
950
71290
Valdosta GA
190
66680
Warner Robins GA
250
69020
North Georgia nonmetropolitan area
600
64670
Middle Georgia nonmetropolitan area
600
69510
East Georgia nonmetropolitan area
280
68960
South Georgia nonmetropolitan area
760
72640

Tax Preparer Salaries Throughout Georgia

According to the US Department of Labor, the salaries of tax prepares in Georgia were more than twice as high in Valdosta as in other parts of the state in 2014:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Albany GA
Estimate not released
28890
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta GA
2350
45730
Augusta-Richmond County GA-SC
160
40500
Brunswick GA
30
25340
Columbus GA-AL
110
31630
Macon GA
90
23240
Rome GA
60
32590
Savannah GA
estimate not released
33490
Valdosta GA
40
55850
North Georgia nonmetropolitan area
120
32610
Middle Georgia nonmetropolitan area
100
24580
East Georgia nonmetropolitan area
70
29500
South Georgia nonmetropolitan area
170
32110

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2014. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing

Georgia Accountancy and Tax Laws in the News

Georgia recently made news when it was announced that their gasoline tax, already one of the highest in the nation at 17.6 cents per gallon, would soon go up by almost three cents per gallon. Because the price of fuel continues to rise, most Georgians are paying upwards of four dollars per gallon of gas.



In other news, the Georgia House of Representatives withdrew a tax reform bill in April 2011 that would have reduced the state income tax from 6 percent to 4.6 percent. House Speaker David Ralston assures Georgians that this tax bill isn’t dead, but rather just delayed for a while until representatives are sure that the bill will, indeed, lower income taxes for the majority of the state’s citizens.