A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Rhode Island

By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015

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In 2012, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) listed accounting and auditing among the top 50 occupations with the largest number of openings and the most job growth potential throughout the state. That year, the DLT estimated that between 2012 and 2022, there will be more than 1,600 accounting job openings in the state.

Rhode Island is among the few remaining states to license non-certified public accountants (PAs). PA practice privileges are as broad as those of CPAs, with the important exception that they are restricted from performing auditing and attestation services. With 150 total semester hours of college level education and a bachelor’s degree at minimum, along with a year of experience and passing scores on the Uniform CPA exam, the Rhode Island Board of Accountancy grants candidates the highly esteemed CPA designation. Since a bachelor’s degree generally consists of just 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting provides the most common path to earning the 30 additional credit hours required for a CPA license in Rhode Island.

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.

International “Big Four” CPA firms, Ernst & Young and KPMG, both have offices in Providence where CPAs provide management consultation and external auditing services to some of the areas largest companies. Both CPAs and PAs work for the many regional public accounting firms serving the area including Kahn, Litwin, Rezna & Co. located in Providence and Rubiano & Co., which is located in Greenville.

Job Trends for Accountants in Rhode Island

Rhode Island is home to the corporate headquarters of a number of major national and multi-national corporations recognized as being among the state’s leading employers of private corporate managerial accountants. These companies range from power backup and management company, American Power Conversion in West Kingston; gaming technology company, GTECH in Providence; and toy company, Hasbro, with its headquarters also in Providence. 

The corporate headquarters of Amica Mutual Insurance, the country’s oldest mutual insurer of automobiles, is located in Providence. Amica is not only one of the leading employers of management accountants and controllers, it’s also a leading employer of actuarial accountants. Citizens Bank, the country’s eighth largest commercial bank holding company, also has corporate offices in Providence. 

Rhode Island accountants who aspire to helping others through their work may choose to specialize in fund accountancy and work for the many nonprofit organizations in the state. Among these are Roger Williams University in Bristol, Newport Art Museum in Newport, the headquarters of the American Mathematical Society in Providence, and CODAC Behavioral Healthcare in Cranston.

Salary and Employment Facts about Accountancy in Rhode Island

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics show that in 2014, accountants in Rhode Island made a mean hourly wage of $37.11, translating to an annual salary of $77,180. The highest paid accountants in Rhode Island worked in the Providence-Fall River-Warwick area and made about $77,100 annually. Accountants employed in the Norwich-New London CT/RI area make about $66,890 annually. 

Those who become top-earning accountants in Rhode Island will earn much more. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, accountants in the 90th percentile working in the Norwich-New London CT/RI area earned an average of $94,000 annually, while top earners in the Providence-Fall River-Warwick area brought home an average of $117,190.

Rhode Island Tax Laws in the News

Rhode Island Governor, Lincoln Chafee, recently made news for proposing that multistate and multinational companies with a presence in Rhode Island, but with subsidiaries or parent companies outside of the state, should be required to file taxes as single entities. This combined reporting proposal, which has already been established as law in 22 other states, would cause multinational companies with Rhode Island offices such as toy manufacturer, Hasbro, and pharmaceutical company, Amgen, to pay higher state taxes. The proposal is being made to help the state make up its budget deficit, but some companies and advocates for the growth of business in the state say that this move could discourage business expansion in Rhode Island.