The New Mexico Department of Labor lists accounting as one of the top 25 occupations with the most projected employment growth between 2012 and 2022, outpacing other occupations with a growth rate of over 12 percent. Accounting is also listed as one of the top 25 occupations with the most projected annual openings, with many of those openings being in Arizona’s top industries.
Those who wish to become certified public accountants in New Mexico must apply to the New Mexico Public Accountancy Board after meeting education, exam, and experience requirements in accordance with the Uniform Accountancy Act. This means a bachelor’s degree at minimum with 150 total hours of college education, passing scores on the Uniform CPA Exam, and one year of supervised work experience. With traditional bachelor’s programs only including about 120 semester hours of college credit, online master’s degrees in accounting provide a path to earning the 30 additional semester hours required for CPA licensure. Once certified, CPAs go on to establish independent practices, work for existing accounting firms, or pursue work as auditors and managerial accountants for private sector corporations.
Accounting firms located in New Mexico include Big Four CPA firm, KPMG, and nationally recognized firms, Clifton Gunderson and Moss Adams, all three of which have offices located in Albuquerque. CPAs also work in academia, as professors at universities such as Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. The CPA credential is diverse, so these licensees are found working across all sectors, from the corporate headquarters of Yates Petroleum Company in Artesia, to the offices of nonprofits where they manage donated funds for organizations like SKIP (Supporting Kids in Peru), which is located in Trujillo.
According to the New Mexico Workforce Investment Board, most of the jobs in the state are within the government sector and in the service-providing industries. As the state houses two national defense laboratories (Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory) as well as three Air Force bases (Kirkland Air Force Base, Holloman Air Force Base, and Cannon Air Force Base), it makes sense that many in the state would be employed by government in some capacity; accountants included. Accountants are also employed within non-military government departments and agencies such as the City of Albuquerque’s Budget Office, and federal agencies located in the state like Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau, also in Albuquerque.
Big business means big opportunity for accountants, controllers and auditors. The Arizona Commerce Authority indicates that top industries throughout the state include advanced business services, advanced manufacturing, and technology. Finally, because of the government’s strong presence in New Mexico, it is one of the leading employers of accounting professionals, employing more than 1,500 accountants as of 2013.
The New Mexico Workforce Investment Board has established regional Workforce Investment Boards across the state to encourage business investment and employment in both urban and rural areas. The Eastern Workforce Investment Area includes the towns of Guadalupe, Chaves, and Lincoln. Tularosa Basin Telephone Company, Inc. falls within this area and is a leading employer of managerial, cost, and capital accountants.
The Central Workforce Investment Area serves Bernalillo, Torrance, Sandoval, and Valencia. The wind farm of international holding company, Edison Mission Operation and Maintenance, Inc., is located in Willard. This diverse holding company employs accountants with specialties that range from international commerce to environmental auditing.
The Northern Workforce Investment Area includes the towns of Santa Fe, Taos, San Juan, and Los Alamos. The local office of financial services company Edward Jones in Santa Fe employs auditors and controllers, in addition to their public-facing financial advisors. Los Alamos County’s own administrative offices also employ staff accountants within this workforce development area.
The Southwestern Workforce Investment Area serves towns including Dona Ana, Sierra, and Socorro. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s local field office in Las Cruces employs forensic accountants responsible for helping to build the body of evidence needed to prosecute the money laundering activities of organized crime cartels whose trafficking activities in boarder states have been getting so much attention in recent years.
New Mexico ranked #1 in employment growth for export related jobs, reporting a massive 42% increase in jobs in 2012. This is helping to drive strong growth in the field of accounting, as corporations compete for the most skilled internal auditors, financial controllers, and other related positions.
Information from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the median salary for New Mexico’s accountants was $ 56,630 in 2014. In Santa Fe, accountants in the 90th percentile earned $93,530.
Robert Half, Inc provided salary data for specialized accounting positions in New Mexico. In 2015, forensic accountants in Albuquerque made as much as $100,908, while controllers for large firms averaged $189,145.
Internal auditors for large corporations earned an average of $84,278 according to the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance.
Positions for CFOs are generally reserved for New Mexico’s licensed CPAs, and this was reflected in their high salaries, which at the top of the range were as high as $421,504 according to the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance.
Accounting Salaries in New Mexico’s Cities and Non-Metro Areas
Albuquerque-based accountants and auditors earned an average salary of $63,510 in 2014, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest average accounting salaries in the state were found in the Southwestern nonmetropolitan area, where the average was $75,130.
The table below contains 2014 salary and employment information for New Mexico accounts across the state’s metropolitan and non-metro areas (US Bureau of Labor Statistics):
*These values are at or above $90 per hour and $187,199 per year. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report salaries beyond $90 per hour and $187,199 per year.
Tax Preparer Salaries in New Mexico
The median salary among tax preparers in New Mexico was $ 36,770 in 2014, while the top earners made nearly twice that according the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The difference in earnings is largely due to experience and location. Tax preparers reporting in the 90th percentile of New Mexico’s nonmetropolitan area received an annual salary of $47,060, while Albuquerque-based tax preparers in the 90th percentile reported an average of $80,120.
The table below shows the range of salary and employment rates for tax preparers in New Mexico’s metropolitan areas (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014):
New Mexico’s Job Training Incentive Program recently allocated $248,285 to help create 31 new jobs within four expanding Albuquerque area companies. These companies are solar tracking system manufacturer Array Technologies, Schott Solar PV, which manufactures electrical components, Schott Solar CSP, which manufactures receiver tubes, and Poly-Flow Engineering, a company that develops equipment used in chemical handling and manufacturing.
In other news, a state audit recently uncovered evidence that a company overbilled the New Mexico Corrections Department during the three-year period between 2007 and 2010. This audit revealed how a former corrections facility manager, who has since been indicted on charges of awarding roofing contracts to a company in exchange for $237,000 in bribes, cost the state at least $47,000 in overbilling and $397,000 in other dubious payments. Internal controls in the New Mexico Corrections Department are being reviewed and tightened in the wake of this finding.