A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in New York

By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015

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In 2015, the New York State Department of Labor listed the accounting and auditing professions as being one of the most in-demand professions statewide, with the demand extending to the central New York region, the capital region, Finger Lakes, the Hudson Valley, western New York, Long Island, New York city, and North Country. Between 2012 and 2022, the Department expects the number of accounting jobs to increase by 16 percent, which equates to 4,500 new positions for accountants during that period.

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. 

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*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.

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*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.

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 completed 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. Since most bachelor’s programs consist of just 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting provides the perfect path to earning the additional credit hours required for a CPA license in New York. 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

As the epicenter of fashion and the home of New York Fashion Week, apparel companies in New York are major employers of capital accounting specialists and management accountants. A study by Fordham University business students revealed that in 2011, Fashion Week alone pumped in almost $21 million to the New York economy. 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 USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics. 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 second-highest paying state in the country for accountants in 2014. According to BLS figures, in May 2014 there were 97,620 accountants and auditors in the state making an average annual salary of $89,850, which is much higher than the national average salary for accountants.

The majority of New York’s accountants are employed in the Rochester area, where more than 5,400 accountants worked as of 2014. The next most popular area for New York accountants is also the Buffalo – Niagara Falls area, where over 4,000 accountants were employed that year. New York is also home to the highest paying metropolitan area in the United States. Over 70,000 accountants work in the New York – White Plains – Wayne NY-NY, where the average salary for these professionals is $96,740. Accountants in the top 10 percent in this area earn an average of $161,510 per year.

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.