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.
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.
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 Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training reported recently that at least 153 new accounting jobs open up each year in the state. The Department expects the number of accounting jobs in the state to increase by 15.8% between 2008 and 2018.
Not only is the state’s average salary for accountants and auditors higher than the national average in these fields, but the upward mobility of accountants in the state speaks to the potential to earn even more. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Rhode Island-based accountants in the top ten percent made an average of $118,370 in 2014.
Overall, accounting professionals in Rhode Island earned an average salary of $77,180 according to 2014 salary data from the Bureau. In The Norwich/New London area, accountants in the 90th percentile earned $93,290. One of the key factors in salary potential for accountants is CPA licensure.
Robert Half, Inc. provided the 2015 salaries of specialized accountants in Providence, many of which hold CPA licenses. Internal auditors with large corporations earned an average of $90,331, while controllers at large firms earned $175,570 according to the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance.
At the high end of the scale in Providence for the forensic accounting specialty was an average salary of $108,155. Chief financial officers (CFOs) at the top of the scale most often hold CPA licenses, and earned an average salary of $451,778 according to the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance.
Accounting Salaries in Rhode Island’s Cities and Non-Metro Areas
Urban areas such as Providence or Newport are home to wealthy individuals and thriving business with a greater need for accounting services, and are often able to pay more for them.
The table below shows metropolitan employment and salary data for accountants in Rhode Island pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s 2014 report:
Tax Preparer Salaries in Rhode Island
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.