Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Connecticut
With a license from the Connecticut State Board of Accountancy, CPA candidates who have earned bachelor’s degrees at minimum, gained a year of experience and passed the Uniform CPA Exam get to hold the rare distinction that comes with earning the CPA credential. A CPA license also brings the unique opportunity to work for industry giants like “Big Four” international accounting and professional services firms Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, all four of which have offices in Stamford and Hartford. With most bachelor’s programs consisting of just 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting can provide the additional credit hours necessary to qualify for a CPA license in Connecticut.
Those interested in becoming non-certified public accountants in Connecticut aren’t required to be licensed or registered and can still work in many different capacities in almost every industry in the state. Many serve as accounting and auditing clerks or budget analysts in settings as diverse as the administrative offices of Greenwich Hospital, which has a location in Wilton and the offices of local consulting and staffing company, McIntyre Group located in Meriden.
CPAs and others with accounting backgrounds interested in offering investment planning services either operate independent practices or find work with investment firms. Global commodities firm Louis Dreyfus and Hartford Investment Management, located in the city for which it was named, both retain accountants with the restrained discipline necessary to be effective investment advisers.
Well-trained and properly credentialed government accountants are found at every level of state and federal government. Some work for federal agencies like the Department of Defense in Groton, as liaisons with private defense contractors like DRS Defense Solutions in Danbury or even in local government where they serve in the Connecticut Comptroller’s Office. The work performed by accountants employed by nonprofits like Save the Children, which has offices in Westport, is similar to that of government accountants, as they often specialize in fund accountancy with respect to money sourced from either tax revenue of donations.
Job Growth and Salary Expectations for Accountants in Connecticut
In Connecticut, accounting is a profession with a huge upside, both in terms of earning potential and the kinds of opportunities that are available to anybody with the right credentials. In addition to high salaries, the field is expected to see rapid growth with an expected increase of 8.9% in the number of jobs available between 2016 and 2026 according to the Connecticut Department of Labor. This along with normal changes in the workforce is expected to result in almost 1,700 job openings in the state each year over the ten-year period.
The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area had the eighth highest concentration of accounting jobs in the country in 2018 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This metropolitan area also had the third highest salaries for accountants of any metro area in the country that year; an impressive ranking that can be at least partially credited to the fact that it sits just at the periphery of the nation’s financial capital.
And accountants should be well-paid in Connecticut for the simple fact that there is an enormous demand for their services. There is a considerable concentration of wealth here, both in the hands of businesses and wealthy families. In 2018, the Yankee Institute for Public Policy calculated that the average tax burden for Connecticut taxpayers amounted to $53,400 apiece. With numbers like this, you better believe those tax payers see it as being well worth the expense to retain a good tax specialist.
Salaries for Connecticut’s Accountants, CPAs and CFOs
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median salary for an accountant in the state was $76,450 in 2018. Experienced professionals in the top ten percent earned an average of $126,380 that year. But this is a broad classification and does little to reveal the kind of pay associated with different areas of specialty practice in different industries, let alone different levels of experience and credentials.
The 2019 Robert Half Accounting and Finance Salary Guide provides those breakdowns, publishing the starting salaries associated with specific types of accounting jobs. The ranges reflect differences in specialized skills, experience and how different employers view the role in terms of the value it adds to the organization. These are base salaries that don’t reflect bonuses and other incentives that are becoming a common part of total compensation, particularly among accountants that work their way up to corporate leadership and upper-level management positions.
Corporate Staff Accountants
Staff accountants with five or more years of experience in the financial services industry are among the best-paid in the general corporate staff accounting category, garnering starting salaries that fall within these ranges:
- New Haven: $76,160 – $144,760
- Stamford: $89,080 – $169,318
Corporate controllers in management with large corporations in New Haven are offered salaries commensurate with the responsibilities they take on and how their work affects the bottom line. From a starting midpoint of $194,600, they can be offered salaries as high as $294,280 annually for those with a lot of experience and strong reputations. Controllers at large financial services firms in Hartford earned salaries within the range of $124,312 to $235,755.
Forensic accountants in New Haven commanded starting salaries that fell within the range of $85,120 – $162,120, with a median offer of $103,040. In Hartford they started off with salaries of between $88,920 and $169,358 a year.
CPAs and Auditors in Accounting Firms
CPAs accepting director level positions with local and regional public accounting firms, or international firms with a presence in New Haven, are offered a median staring salary of $147,000, with the most experienced and reputable candidates commanding $233,800.
Even lower down the experience totem pole, public accountants working for sizable firms that take care of the tax and audit/assurance needs of big corporations are well paid:
- Management – $83,440 – $159,600
- Senior – $59,640 – $113,680
- 1-3 years experience – $48,720 – $92,680
- Management – $96,600 – $183,960
- Senior – $67,760 – $126,560
- 1-3 years experience – $53,480 – $102,480
Accountants in Leadership Roles
Of course, accountants in the corporate word with CPA licenses, including Chief Financial Officers, earned the highest salaries among professionals with an accounting background. CFOs at high-revenue firms in New Haven earned salaries within the range of $135,800 and $556,920.
Those are big spreads. In all cases, the size and revenue of the employer and the experience and credentials of the accountant were the biggest factors in determining who took home the big bucks.
Salaries for Accountants and Auditors Throughout Connecticut
A 2018 analysis conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the median salary for the Department of Labor’s broad category for accountants and auditors was the highest in the Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk statistical areas:
Tax Preparer Salaries in Connecticut
Tax preparers in New Haven had substantially higher salaries than their colleagues in other parts of Connecticut in 2018 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ct.htm#13-2011. BLS salary data represents state and MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
Salary data for specific job titles sourced from the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting & Finance Professionals –
https://www.roberthalf.com/salary-guide/accounting-and-finance. All ranges represent starting salaries at the 25th and 95th percentiles unless otherwise noted, with midpoint figures representing the 50th percentile. Experience, specialty area, credentials, and role all influence where salaries might fall within this range. These base salaries do not include bonuses or other incentives.
Job growth projections sourced from the Connecticut Department of Laborand reported in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm.
All salary and job growth data accessed in May 2019.