By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015
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.
The Georgia Department of Labor recently listed accounting among the state’s “Hot Careers to 2022” due to the profession’s fast job growth, high-end salaries, and the high number of annual job openings.
In 2012, the United States Department of Labor found there were 39,310 accountants and auditors employed in Georgia. By 2022, this number is expected to reach to 49,420. This 26% positive employment growth change is twice the national average for this occupation.
In 2014, Georgia’s Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta area became recognized as a national employment leader for accountants. In fact, this region held the sixth highest employment level for accountants among all other metropolitan areas in the country. At that time, accountants practicing here earned an average annual salary of $79,000 and an average hourly wage of $37.98.
According to the United States Department of Labor, the statewide average for accountants throughout Georgia was $76,580 (average hourly wage of $36.82). At that time, entry-level accountants received $42,300 annually, while more accomplished accountants with a few years of experience were paid an average of $68,800. The most experienced accountants (top 10%) in the state very often were licensed CPAs who earned an average salary of $119,200.
Average salaries for accountants in Georgia by region (US Department of Labor, 2014):
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.