A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in New Jersey

By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated April 2013

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The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development lists accounting among the professions with the most projected growth in the current ten-year period ending 2022. In fact, the number of accounting jobs in the state is expected to increase some 7 percent by 2022.

The New Jersey State Board of Accountancy is responsible for licensing state residents interested in becoming certified public accountants. The Board requires its CPAs to have at least 150 semester hours of college education, a bachelor’s degree at minimum, a year of public accounting experience, and passing scores on both the Uniform CPA Exam and on New Jersey’s ethics, laws, and regulations exam. 

With bachelor’s programs only including about 120 semester hours of college credit, online master’s degrees provide the perfect avenue for earning the full 150 semester hours required for a CPA license in New Jersey.

Featured Undergraduate Program

*Accredited accounting programs are available in a flexible online format that puts an undergraduate degree in accounting well within reach. Prepare to earn your CPA license and develop the skills employers are looking for with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Featured Graduate Program

*Qualifying for a CPA license requires a bachelor’s degree at minimum and a total of 150 semester hours of college credit to include coursework in accounting, business and ethics. Since bachelor’s programs typically result in just 120 semester hours of credit, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) maintains that earning a Master of Science in Accounting is the best way to achieve the full 150 semester hours you need to become licensed.

Big Four public accounting firm, Deloitte, has local branch offices in Parsippany and East Brunswick. Ernst & Young, another Big Four firm, has offices in Iselin, Rutherford and Secaucus. In addition, as of May 2014,there were 21 Fortune 500 companies with corporate headquarters in New Jersey. These companies were known to be among the state’s biggest employers of corporate managerial accountants. The diverse companies that call New Jersey home include household names like healthcare and pharmaceuticals company, Johnson & Johnson, which is headquartered in New Brunswick; security and energy product engineering company, Honeywell International in Morris Township; and retailer, Toys ‘R Us, with its corporate offices in Wayne.

Many banks and financial services companies, which are major employers of accounting professionals who work as auditors, controllers, and advisors, also call New Jersey home. Prudential Financial, another Fortune 500 company, is headquartered in Newark, Bloomberg Equities Group has its corporate headquarters in Princeton, and GM Financial Center is headquartered in Jersey City.

Job Trends for Accountants in New Jersey

In a 2012 report, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development listed accounting as one of the top in-demand jobs in the state. New Jersey’s key industry clusters, which are the industries that support innovation and expansion, are also some of the top employers for accountants in the state. As of 2013, the key industry clusters included technology, leisure, biopharmaceutical life sciences, advanced manufacturing, transportation, financial services, health care, and more.

As part of the leisure industry cluster, the gambling industry is still big business in Atlantic City. Accountants here specialize in this industry by becoming familiar with AICPA’s Gaming Audit and Accounting Guide, which details accounting standards and auditing issues encountered in the gambling industry. Casinos such as Trump Taj Mahal, Borgata, and Bally’s Atlantic City all employ accountants to ensure their gambling businesses run smoothly. 

The video game industry is another hot industry for accountants in New Jersey. It generated $10.5 billion as of 2010, and is still growing. Many digital gaming companies are headquartered here, including high-tech consumer product engineering companies such as Blackburst Media in Glen Rock, Saber Interactive in Cranford, Slingo in Hackensack, and I-play in Plainsboro.

Although many accountants are hired by big businesses, which rely on their expertise to manage corporate finances and implement controls, the financial sector alone brought in almost $35 billion to New Jersey’s economy in 2013 alone. The New Jersey Business & Industry Association indicates that 15 of the state’s top 75 employers are finance and insurance firms.

New Jersey Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 there were 36,200 accountants employed in New Jersey. The average hourly wage for a New Jersey accountant is $40.46, translating to an average annual salary of $84,160, which is considerably higher than the national average salary of $65,940 for accountants.

Information provided by Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2014, the Edison – New Brunswick area had the highest number of accountants in the state, with 8,660 employed in that area alone. This was followed by Camden, with 3,590 accountants and the Trenton – Ewing area with 2,570—not to mention all of the accountants who are privately employed and not accounted for in this data.

The BLS also indicates that in 2014 the highest average salaries are those for accountants living in the Camden area, where the average was $84,620. The top 10 percent in the Camden area make an average of $118,640 per year. Following this is the Edison – New Brunswick area, with average salaries coming in at $84,120, and the top ten percent earning an average of $127,820. The Trenton – Ewing area comes in a close third, with the average salary being $81,540 and the top ten percent earning $111,660 on average.

New Jersey Tax Laws in the News

A recent survey of New Jersey CEOs found that 75 percent of them believe the state to be more receptive to the needs of business than it was six months ago. Governor Chris Christie’s pro-business approach, which offers tax incentives to businesses, has helped to create 31,000 new jobs within the past two months. More businesses are relocating to New Jersey, with Bayer and Panasonic both building new facilities in the state.

The Governor reported that the state’s economy is improving overall. In towns across the state, tax rates increased by no more than two percent thanks to the creation of a two percent increase cap on tax levies.