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 the public corporations in the country are incorporated there.
That creates a big demand for accountants, with the Delaware Department of Labor estimating the number of accounting positions in the state to grow by 13.5% during the ten-year period between 2016 and 2026. Between growth and normal turnover, this should add 570 accounting jobs on average each year during this ten-year projection period.
The median salary for an accountant in Delaware was $72,750 in 2018 according to the state’s Department of Labor. Experienced professionals in this field earned an average of $115,630 a year.
According to the Delaware Business Times, the state is experiencing robust growth in the financial technology, or fintech, sector, through 2018. As America’s credit card capital, the state is well-positioned to take advantage of trends in blockchain and cryptocurrency to create a booming environment for accounting and auditing professionals. J.P. Morgan Chase alone employers 10,000 people in the state, a quarter of them fully focused on technology.
Salaries for Accountants in Different Specialized Roles
The 2019 Robert Half Accounting and Finance Salary Guide shows how salaries break down for more specialized positions in financial technology and other industries, providing starting salary numbers for the state’s largest cities at the 25th, 50th, and 95th percentile. The numbers don’t account for bonuses or other compensation, but they do offer more insight than the overall BLS average.
Differences within those ranges can be attributed largely to:
- Size of the employing company
- Industry of practice
- Special credentials, such as a CPA
For Dover, the starting salaries for the most in-demand accounting roles look like this:
Corporate Accountants in Financial Services
Although fintech is becoming big in Delaware, it’s a field where you have to earn your spurs. Starting out, with as little as a year of experience, accountants in the industry make from $39,500 to $74,016 (25th to 95th percentile).
But those numbers go up quickly with more time in grade:
- 3 to 5 years experience: $45,828 – $86,863
- 5+ years experience: $52,156 – $99,135
Controllers offer the experience and the expertise necessary to hold the reins at companies of all sizes in Dover, and their critical role in management earns them starting salaries of between $70,564 and $159,344, with a $90,698 midpoint.
With the right combination of education and attitude, forensic accountants are key players in auditing and litigation, and their salaries reflect their importance. They make between $58,292 and $111,023 (25th to 95th percentile) to start.
Tax Specialists and Auditors in Public Accounting Firms
Public accounting can cover all types of industries and every size of company. Consequently, salary ranges can be quite broad. But senior managers or directors, often with a CPA license under their belt, can command from $83,986 to $160,111, with a $100,669 midpoint, in Dover.
Other ranks and specializations (from the 25th to 95th percentile) include:
- Management – $57,142 – $109,298
- Senior – $40,843 – $77,850
- 1-3 years experience – $33,364 – $63,469
- Management – $66,154 – $125,980
- Senior – $46,404 – $86,671
- 1-3 years experience – $36,624 – $70,180
Accountants in Executive Roles
Chief Financial Officers are typically licensed as CPAs at some point in their careers and maintain the credentials over many years as a matter of course to denote their advanced level of accounting expertise. As executive level corporate leaders, naturally they earn the highest salaries within the general accounting classification. The salaries for CFOs of financial services firms in Dover fall between $92,999 and $381,391 a year before bonuses and other incentives.
Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in Delaware’s Cities and Rural Areas
Dover was the hotspot for accounting and auditing professionals in Delaware in 2018 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
(This broad classification includes accounting professionals in different areas of specialty, with different credentials, and with varying levels of experience.)
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_de.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 Delaware Department of Labor and 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.