A State By State Accounting Guide
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Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Delaware

Under Delaware law, associate’s degree holders who have completed at least 21 hours of accounting courses can become qualify for a permit to practice as public accountants. Public accountants often act as proprietors of their own independent tax preparation services but can also be found in accounting firms. Earning a bachelor’s degree, accumulating a total of 150 semester hours of college credit, passing the Uniform CPA Exam and fulfilling Delaware’s experience requirements can lead to the distinction that comes with being granted a CPA license from the Delaware State Board of Accountancy. 
With most bachelor’s programs consisting of just 120 semester hours of college credit, earning a master’s degree in accounting has become the standard path for aspiring CPAs looking to satisfy the credit hour requirement for licensure in Delaware. 

CPAs can work as internal auditors, controllers, cost and capital accountants, managerial accountants, financial analysts, and business management consultants. As such, they are found throughout private industry in the state working for professional services and advisory firms like the Siegfried Group, LLP and for international companies like DuPont, which was founded in Wilmington. CPAs also manage huge portfolios for global investment companies and thrive among the many financial institutions and investment banks located in Delaware including BlackRock, Inc.; JP Morgan Chase, and INGDirect Bank, all three of which have offices in Wilmington.

Accounting is such a broad and ubiquitous field that it includes specializations for every personality type. Accountants more interested in social causes than profit margins specialize in nonprofit fund accounting and work for organizations like Nemours Children’s Hospital. Those more interested in keeping business free of improper conduct specialize in forensics. Risk managers take part in proactive prevention and compliance practices within companies like global insurance giant AIG, which has an office in Wilmington. Government accountants can be found at all levels of government in Delaware, from the New Castle County Finance Department, to the Delaware Army National Guard, also located in New Castle.

Job Growth and Salary and Expectations for Accountants in Delaware

Delaware has long been known as a business-friendly state, and nearly half of all of the public corporations in the country are incorporated there.

According to the New York Times, Delaware gained 1,300 jobs in the financial services industry between 2007 and 2012.  In fact, Delaware’s Governor and its Economic Development Office announced in April 2012 that JP Morgan Chase would be making a capital investment of up to $50 million in the state.  This transition is expected to add up to 1,200 new jobs in Delaware, including high-paying positions for corporate managerial accountants, controllers and treasurers.

Salaries for Corporate Accountants and CFOs in Delaware

The Delaware Department of Labor expects the number of accounting positions in the state to grow by 9.3% during the ten-year period between 2012 and 2022.  This should add 183 accounting jobs on average each year in the state during this ten-year projection period. 

The median salary for an accountant in Delaware was $68,432 in 2014 according to the state’s Department of Labor.  Experienced professionals in this field earned an average of $87,464 a year. 

The salaries for Delaware’s accountants varied widely depending on a number of factors according to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide.  Having five or more years of experience as an accountant in the financial services industry can result in a salary twice as high as for those with one to three years of experience.  Accountants in Wilmington with at least five years of experience in this industry earned salaries within the range of $74,025 and $93,450 in 2015.

Forensic accountants earn even more.  Those in Wilmington earned salaries that ranged from $75,075 to $117,075 a year. 

Controllers for large financial services firms in Wilmington earned between $159,075 and $202,650 a year, while their colleagues at smaller firms in this industry earned within the range of $96,600 and $129,675 a year. 

Chief Financial Officers, who are typically licensed as CPAs, earned the highest salaries with the general accounting classification.  The salaries for CFOs of financial services firms in Wilmington were between $162,750 and $288,750 a year.  Those in large corporate accounting firms that generated revenues of more than half billion dollars a year earned salaries that ranged from $305,813 to $489,093.

Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in Delaware by Location

More than 89% of Delaware’s accountants were employed in Wilmington in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Wilmington-based accountants were shown to earn higher salaries than their colleagues in other areas of Delaware:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Dover DE
Wilmington DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division
Sussex County Delaware nonmetropolitan area

Salaries for Tax Preparers in Wilmington

Tax prepares in Wilmington earning in the 90th percentile made an average of $37,500 a year in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Wilmington DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2014. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing.

Delaware Accountancy and Tax Laws in the News

It became national news when Delaware’s legislature passed laws enacting the Delaware Estate Tax effective for anyone dying on or after July 1, 2009. This was the state’s first estate tax in four years. It applies only to estates worth $3.5 million or more. 

It is well known that Delaware is a state in which companies often incorporate. One of the main reasons that over 900,000 companies have incorporated in Delaware (including 63% of the Fortune 500 companies) is the fact that the flexible and business-friendly Delaware General Corporation Law, makes it easy for companies to incorporate here. This creates a great environment for business and the accountants that serve business needs.

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