Steps to Becoming an Accountant in New York
By Susan Maphis, Accountingedu contributing writer
Updated April 2013
The New York State Department of Labor lists the accounting and auditing professions as being in second highest demand statewide among all professions that require a bachelor’s degree. Long-term projections estimate that the number of accounting jobs in New York State will increase by 10.1 percent through the year 2018.As home to the New York Stock Exchange and the financial district of Wall Street, New York City continues to carry a weighty reputation for being the financial capital of the world. The Federal Reserve Bank has a location here, and New York City is where some of the world’s most powerful private banking institutions are headquartered. Investment banks like JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley are legendary fixtures in Manhattan, as are some of the world's biggest credit issuers like Citibank and the American Express Company. Insurance and financial service providers with headquarters in New York number in the dozens, and include American International Group (AIG), The Dreyfus Corporation, and Merrill Lynch.
New York is a hub of international commerce where accountants familiar with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are assets to the multinational corporations and international accounting firms they work for. The Hearst Corporation, IBM, Pfizer pharmaceuticals, and the Sony Corporation of America are just a few of the global business giants headquartered in New York.
There is considerable variance in areas of specialty for those interested in becoming accountants in New York. Those with personalities better suited to nonprofit accounting work for organizations like the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Government accountants work for agencies like the New York City Department of Education and New York’s FBI offices where they manage allocated funds drawn from state and federal tax revenue.
CPAs in New York
The New York State Board of Public Accountancy grants CPA licensure to qualified applicants who have earned bachelor’s degrees from programs consisting of 150 semester hours of college credit, passed the Uniform CPA Exam, and who have gone on to gain a year of experience in the field. CPAs specializing in management accounting, auditing, and attestation thrive in New York City, as all of the “Big Four” CPA firms have offices here to serve the banking and financial service industries. In fact, three of the Big Four (Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Ernst & Young) have their U.S. headquarters here.
Other Industries in New York State
Apparel companies in New York are major employers of capital accounting specialists and management accountants. These companies are responsible for total capital expenditures of over $39 million annually, ranking New York as second in the nation in the garment and fashion industry. Companies headquartered in New York include the Polo/Ralph Lauren Corporation and women’s apparel manufacturer, New York & Company; both located in New York City, as well as AllU Activewear, Inc. in Albany. Demand for accountants is actually particularly high in the Capital Region of Albany and nearby Hudson Valley, which includes Westchester.
Outside of the big city, New York State has swaths of farmland and a significant dairy industry, ranking third in the nation in milk production according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2004 Annual Survey of Manufactures. Big industry is big business, and companies like Crowley Foods in Binghamton and Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc. in Buffalo retain management accountants, controllers, budget analysts, cost and capital accountants, as well as environmental auditors who work to mitigate the impacts of their large scale farming operations.
New York Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor lists New York as the top paying state in the country for accountants. According to BLS figures, in May 2010 there were 91,630 accountants and auditors in the state making an average annual salary of $85,230. This is $16,270 higher than the national average for accountants.
The majority of New York’s accountants are employed in the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island area, where biomedical and communications are big employment industries. The next most popular area for New York accountants is also the highest paying area in the state, the New York-White Plains-Wayne NJ/NY area. Here accountants earn an average annual salary of $89,220. Popular industries in this area, according to the New York Department of Labor, include manufacturing, dairy/agribusiness/food, and alternative energy.
Other areas of the state where accountants earn higher salaries than the state average include the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island area where the average is $87,590, and the Nassau-Suffolk area where the average is $87,000.
New York Tax Laws in the News
The American Community Survey, recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, revealed that some counties in New York have the highest property tax rates of any in the nation. Data from 2009 shows that Nassau County property owners pay an average of $8,206 in property taxes, while Westchester property owners pay $8,160, and in Rockland the average is $7,676 per year. This is compared to the national average of $1,917 per year. Tax advisors and other tax specialists have become particularly adept at working to mitigate the impact this has on the cost of living and the cost of doing business in the state.
There was good news recently for New York as a result of tax breaks being offered to entice businesses into the state. It was announced that the state’s 30 percent tax credit made available to film and television producers has attracted eight new television series that will begin filming in 2011. This is expected to create 4,700 new jobs across the state. Over 70 new film and television projects have come to New York since January 2011, and, as a result, the industry is expected to infuse $1 billion into the state’s economy this year alone.