A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in New Mexico

By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015

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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.

Employment for Accountants within New Mexico Workforce Investment Areas

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 Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that 6,570 accountants were employed in the state in 2014, making an average annual salary of $61,880 or $29.75 per hour. The Albuquerque Metropolitan Central Workforce Investment Area employed the most accountants in New Mexico, with 3,770 in that area alone. 

Accountants working in the southwestern nonmetropolitan area made the highest salaries in the state in 2014, earning an average of $75,130 annually. The second highest-paying area for accountants in Arizona was Albuquerque, where they earned an average annual salary of $63,560. The top 10 percent of accountants in this area earned an average of $95,390. Although the eastern nonmetropolitan area came in third for average salary, with accountants here earning an average of $61,390 per year, the area is the highest paying in the state for its top tier accountants, who made $97,880 per year. Finally, Santa Fe-based accountants earned an average salary of $58,460, while top 10 percent of accountants in this area brought home an average of $86,340 per year.

New Mexico Tax Laws and Accountancy in the News

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.