By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015
The Virginia Employment Commission reported in 2012 that there were 42,020 accountants and auditors employed in the state. By 2022, the Commission predicts that number will rise to 48,790, representing an increase of 16% over the current ten-year. This equates to an additional 1,920 accounting jobs created on average each year.
Qualified applicants can become certified public accountants when licensed by the Virginia Board of Accountancy. This requires a bachelor’s degree or higher, 150 total semester hours of college-level education, one year of experience in the field, and passing scores on the Uniform CPA Exam. With most bachelor’s programs consisting of just 120 semester hours of college credit, earning a master’s in accounting serves as the standard way to earn the additional credit hours in advanced accounting coursework required for a CPA license in Virginia.
CPAs in Virginia often join small local partnerships or regional firms, establish independent practices of their own, or work for large accounting and professional services firms that have a presence in that state. Among these larger organizations are “Big Four” international CPA firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has a location in Maclean and national CPA firm Kearney & Company, which has an office in Alexandria.
According to the Virginia Employment Commission’s 2014 report, Virginia’s accountants earn some of the highest annual accounting salaries in the nation, at an average of $72,300 a year.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2014 that the Alexandria/Arlington/Washington, DC metropolitan areas have the highest concentration of accountants in the state at 33,430. These accountants also make the highest average salary in the state at $87,270. Employers of CPAs in this area are numerous and include national and international accounting and professionals services firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers in MacLean, Grant Thornton LLP in Vienna, and KPMG in Washington, D.C.
Richmond has the second highest concentration of accountants in the state at 6,810. Here they make an average annual salary of $73,390, which represents the third-highest average salary for accountants in the state. Richmond area employers include insurance company The Markel Corporation, railway component manufacturers Amsted Rail, Inc. in Petersburg, and McKesson Medical Surgical Company, which has a location in Richmond.
Although accountants can be found working across the entire state, other selected areas of Virginia and their corresponding salaries for accountants include Winchester ($75,910), Charlottesville ($75,570), and Lynchburg ($66,120). Major employers of accountants in these areas include professional services firm The Kemp Group, which has offices in Lynchburg, and Honeywell with its offices in Hopewell.
In other news, Virginia recently made headlines when Governor McDonnell established a new financial literacy graduation requirement for high school seniors. In order to graduate, all seniors in Virginia must now take a one-credit course in economics and personal finance. This requirement was supported and advocated by the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA). VSCPA is also sponsoring free training programs for high school teachers interested in teaching these personal finance courses.