A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Labor reported there to be 30,960 accountants and auditors employed in the state in 2010. By 2020, it’s expected this number will increase to 34,070, which represents a strong job growth rate of 10.1%.


The Michigan Board of Accountancy issues licenses to candidates with the dedication and discipline needed to become certified public accountants. CPA candidates need a bachelor’s degree at minimum with a total of 150 semester hours of college credit, one year of experience, and passing scores on the Uniform CPA exam. Because a bachelor’s degree results in just 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting provides the ideal way to earn the additional credit hours required for a CPA license in Indiana.   All of the “Big Four” international CPA firms have a strong presence in Michigan. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and Deloitte have offices in Grand Rapids, while Ernst & Young and KPMG have Detroit based offices. The Troy office of CPA professional services and advisory firm, Doeren Mayhew, is also recognized to be a major employer of CPAs in Michigan.

Employment Industries for Michigan’s Accountants

Despite the news about Detroit’s economic woes, Michigan continues to be a major contributor to the US economy and a significant player in international commerce. As the hub of the U.S. auto manufacturing industry; one of the biggest producers of corn, wheat and soybeans in the country; and the location of some of the most majestic landscapes in the world, it’s no surprise that the three biggest money making industries in the statein 2015 were the automobile industry, advanced manufacturing, food and agriculture, and freshwater technology and services.

As home to iconic American companies like General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, Detroit-based accountants often serve as financial controllers, managerial accountants and auditors within the state’s automotive industry. In January 2015, President Barack Obama as quoted saying that after the bailout, the automobile industry has created over 500,000 new jobs, with Wayne, Michigan being a major city of assembly line reinvention.

Automobile manufacturing is not Michigan’s only manufacturing giant, either. Change the Equation, a group located in Michigan, indicates that the number of advanced manufacturing jobs in Detroit has grown by 37 percent between 2009 and 2014—spurred on by the revival of the automobile manufacturing industry.

The combined revenue of these and other manufacturing giants - such as The Dow Chemical Co. - has made the manufacturing industry one of the biggest employers of corporate managerial accountants, internal auditors, and financial controllers in the state.



Private sector accountants are also found working in the world headquarters of electronics and vehicle technology giant Delphi, which is located in Troy; and for Dow Corning Corporation, which was originally founded in Midland and is still headquartered there. America’s largest electricity transmission company, ITC Holdings Corp, is headquartered in Novi and is recognized as one of the state’s major employers of private sector accountants and CPAs specializing in investment analysis.



Accountants are found working in some capacity in nearly all government agencies in the state, whether municipal, state or federal. Specialized external audit experts work for the Defense Contract Audit Agency, which has offices in both Grand Rapids and Livonia, while fund accounting specialists and accounting clerks work for the comptroller and county administrators’ offices throughout the state.

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Salary and Employment Facts about Accountancy in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB) expects the number of positions in the accounting field to increase by 11.6% statewide between 2012 and 2022.  This rate of growth should generate an average of 1,252 jobs a year in Michigan during this ten-year period.

Job prospects for accountants and auditors are good even outside of Michigan’s major metro areas. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nonmetropolitan area of the Lower Peninsula had the fourth highest level of employment for accountants of any nonmetropolitan area in the country.

The median salary for an accountant in Michigan was $61,714 in 2014 according to the DTMB.  Experienced professionals with CPA licenses in the top 10% of this occupational category earned an average of $102,400.

According to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide, the salaries for general accountants and auditors with five or more years of experience at large accounting firms in Grand Rapid ranged between $58,781 and $75,026.

Salaries increase when accountants have specialized skills.  For instance, forensic accountants in Detroit earned between $71,500 and $111,500.  Controllers at large financial service firms in Detroit had salaries within the range of $151,500 and $193,000. 

Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are typically licensed as CPAs and draw from many years of accounting experience, resulting in the highest salaries found in the accounting field.  CFOs at financial service firms in Ann Arbor earned between $155,755 and $276,275 according to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide.

Accountant and Auditor Salaries Throughout Michigan

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that general accountants and auditors had a wide disparity of salaries depending on their location in Michigan.  General accountants and auditors in the Detroit area had the highest average salary in 2014.

The 90th percentile in each area is representative of salaries for experienced accountants with CPA licenses.

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Ann Arbor MI
1160
61400
Battle Creek MI
290
59420
Bay City MI
150
64920
Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn MI Metropolitan Division
4440
74090
Detroit-Warren-Livonia MI
13650
73680
Flint MI
800
69240
Grand Rapids-Wyoming MI
2640
62860
Holland-Grand Haven MI
610
61130
Jackson MI
630
61900
Kalamazoo-Portage MI
720
64130
Lansing-East Lansing MI
1640
66660
Monroe MI
100
62440
Muskegon-Norton Shores MI
230
67840
Niles-Benton Harbor MI
340
63620
Saginaw-Saginaw Township North MI
770
71180
Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills MI Metropolitan Division
9210
73480
Upper Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
530
55060
Northeast Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
370
57960
Northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
550
60750
Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
1460
57840

Tax Preparer Salaries Throughout Michigan

Tax preparers in the Lansing area had by far the highest average salary of those in this profession statewide in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Ann Arbor MI
60
43120
Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn MI Metropolitan Division
670
38150
Detroit-Warren-Livonia MI
1520
45760
Flint MI
50
43910
Grand Rapids-Wyoming MI
160
43160
Holland-Grand Haven MI
40
42820
Kalamazoo-Portage MI
170
41180
Lansing-East Lansing MI
60
55470
Niles-Benton Harbor MI
30
51250
Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills MI Metropolitan Division
860
51680
Upper Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
40
47170
Northeast Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
40
38750
Northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area
100
33760
Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan are
Estimate not released
37810


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.

Michigan Accountancy and Tax Laws in the News

A resolution was recently introduced in the Michigan Senate that would enable municipalities to enforce a local 4% sales tax in addition to the state sales tax of 6%. This resolution, which was designed to help municipalities generate more money as tax revenue sharing from the state decreases, would have to be approved by taxpayers in order to be enacted by January 2012. 



In other tax related news, Michigan currently offers a film tax credit to production companies that come to the state to film movies. Some filmmakers are able to recoup up to 42% of their expenses through this tax credit. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder would like to set a cap of $25 million on film tax credits citing that Michigan’s film tax incentive is one of the most generous in the country.