According to the Maine Department of Labor, in 2012 there were 4,250 accountants and auditors employed in the state. The Department projects that this number will grow to 4,440 by 2022, which is equivalent to an increase of 5 percent.
Maine’s Board of Accountancy issues licenses to candidates interested in becoming CPAs. In order to become an accountant eligible for CPA licensure, candidates must earn a bachelor’s degree and log a total of 150 semester hours of college credit before passing the Uniform CPA Exam and gaining one year of supervised experience. 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 than ever.
While Maine does not house any of the “Big Four” international CPA firms, there are local firms that employ CPAs who perform business advisory and tax filing services. Notable among these is Countinghouse Associates in New Gloucester; Berry, Dunn, McNeil & Parker in Portland, and Loiselle, Goodwin and Hinds in Bangor.
The large corporations that call Maine home employ accountants at various levels and in diverse positions. Cost and capital accountants, financial controllers, and internal auditors all work in the corporate offices of the biggest companies founded and headquartered in Maine. Most notable among these are pet healthcare company IDEXX Laboratories, which has its headquarters in Westbrook; outdoor clothing outfitter L.L. Bean based in Freeport, and the famed Fairchild Semiconductor, which was founded in South Portland and still calls the area home. Supermarket giant, Hannaford’s, which has its corporate headquarters in Scarborough, and TD Bank, based in Falmouth, are both counted among the biggest corporate employers of managerial accountants.
The Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information considers accounting to be a high-wage, in-demand field in the state. This agency projects the number of jobs for accountants in Maine will increase by 4.5% between 2012 and 2022. This level of growth should generate an average of 145 jobs a year for accountants in Maine during this ten-year period.
The median salary for an accountant in Maine was $56,368 in 2014 according to the state’s Center for Workforce Research and Information. More experienced accountants in the 75th percentile of this occupation earned an average of $71,302 that year.
The 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide shows the salaries for a number of different types of accounting professionals working in the Portland area in 2015. Accountants at financial services firms with five or more years of experience earned salaries ranging from $66,975 to $84,550 a year. In contrast, accountants with one to three years of experience earned salaries that were between $43,700 and $56,763.
Financial fraud in Maine is a perpetual issue that forensic accountants continually monitor. The Maine Office of Securities educates investors in the state on how to avoid fraud and scams such as Ponzi schemes. Based on the findings of forensic accounting investigations, in 2012 this agency ordered almost $1.2 million in penalties for violations against Maine’s security laws, as well as restitutions for investors who had been defrauded.
Forensic accountants are more highly compensated for their specialized knowledge. For instance, forensic accountants in Portland earned between $67,925 and $105,925 a year in 2015. Controllers at small financial services firms earned salaries ranging from $87,400 to $117,325.
Chief Financial Officers are very well compensated and tend to have CPA licenses. CFOs at financial services firms in Portland had salaries ranging from $147,250 to $261,250 a year.
Salaries for Maine’s Accountants in Metro and Non-metro Areas of the State
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average salary for general accountants and auditors in the Portland area was higher than in other major metropolitan and rural areas as of 2014. Professionals in the top 10% of this occupational category located in Bangor were the most highly paid:
Tax Preparer Salaries in Portland and Maine’s Nonmetropolitan Areas
The salaries of tax preparers in the Portland area were nearly twice as high as those in the nonmetropolitan areas of the state in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Maine’s Tree Growth Tax program, designed for those with between 10 and 100 acres of Maine forestland grown for commercial purposes, has helped reduce the tax burden to land owners whose property is dedicated to the growth of trees for the purpose of commercial logging. This is big news that affects the state economy as a whole given that the timber and wood products industry is one of the biggest employers and revenue generators in Maine. Once land owners are enrolled in the Tree Growth Tax program, their forestland is taxed based upon the land’s actual productivity of timber growth, rather than upon its development potential or its fair market value.
In other news related to accountancy, the Maine Society of CPAs (MECPA) is sponsoring a Financial Literacy program, in which CPAs in Maine teach financial literacy to other state residents. This is done through public speaking and educational programs, and is also designed to bring more attention to the CPA professional designation.