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

The Florida Board of Accountancy is responsible for licensing Florida’s CPAs and, in accordance with the Uniform Accountancy Act, requires applicants to have a bachelor’s degree at minimum with a total of 150 semester hours of college credit, a year of experience, and passing scores on the Uniform CPA Exam. While satisfying the experience requirement, many CPA licensure candidates also begin working to earn a master’s degree in accounting to satisfy the semester hour requirement for CPA licensure in Florida.

Major employers of CPAs in the state include public accounting firms Crowe Horwath, LLC located in Fort Lauderdale, as well as “Big Four” international CPA firms KPMG with offices in Miami and Ernst and Young with a location in Tampa.

Job Trends for Accountants in Florida

CPAs involved in investigative accounting are credited with building the body of evidence responsible for prosecuting both white-collar crimes and the illicit money laundering activities of organized crime syndicates. Forensic accounting is emerging as one of the hottest jobs in accounting, and in Florida, major accounting firms like the Sanford Barrows Group, LLC as well as Miami’s U.S. Marshals Service, retain these professionals for their unique investigative expertise. 




According to the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, one of the biggest areas of employment for Florida’s accountants is in the world of big business. Corporate accountants serve as accounting managers, internal auditors, and financial control officers for the many fortune 500 companies headquartered here, including Fidelity National Financial in Jacksonville and the corporate offices of specialty retailer Office Depot located in Boca Raton. Financial advisers serve institutions like Edward Jones in Orlando or JPMorgan Chase, which has a corporate office in Tampa.

Job Growth and Salary Expectations for Accountants in Florida

The field of accounting is booming in Florida as Wall Street firms relocate their offices to business-friendly cities like Jacksonville where operational costs and tax rates are lower than almost anywhere on the east coast, and a whole lot lower than in New York where most of these firms hail from. And according to a 2018 article in Bloomberg, there are corporate defectors coming down south as well, with the state’s reputation as a tax haven pulling in former talent from Morgan Stanley and Squared Capital, along with other fund managers coming to set up shop.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 Florida was home to the fourth highest number of accountants and auditors in the country. In particular, Tallahassee had the sixth highest concentration of accounting jobs of any city in the nation.

And the number of accounting positions in Florida is increasing faster than in the US as a whole. The total number of accounting jobs in the state is expected to increase by 20% between 2016 and 2026 according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. This along with normal changes in the workforce will result in 16,720 positions for accountants opening up each year over this ten-year period.

Salaries for Accountants, CPAs and CFOs in Florida

The median salary for accountants in Florida was $62,270 a year in 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Experienced accountants in Florida with CPA licenses earned an average of $110,320 a year. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics only maintains a single, general category for accountants and auditors, without drilling down to specific roles or locations, or saying much about the value of specialty credentials in terms of dollars earned. That’s where the Robert Half Salary Guide comes in.

Corporate Accountants in Financial Services

According to the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide, in 2019 accountants in Miami with at least five years of industry experience under their belts accepting jobs in the financial services industry were offered starting salaries of between $72,080 on average (25th percentile) and $137,005 on average for top earners in the 90th percentile.

Controllers

Starting salaries for controllers at financial services firms in Tampa ranged from a 25th percentile average of $105,719 to a 90th percentile average of $200,492.

Forensic Accountants

Forensic accountants in Orlando were offered between $76,760 (25th percentile average) and $146,198 (90th percentile average).

CPAs and Auditors in Accounting Firms

Certified Public Accountants in Jacksonville with high-level management or director positions in large accounting firms performing audit and assurance services were offered a median starting salary of $126,000, with those in the top ten percent commanding an average of $200,400. At the same level, those performing tax services earned a median salary of $128,640, while those in the top ten percent earned an average of $203,760.

At different levels of experience accountants and auditors working at public accounting and business services firms in Jacksonville earned (25th–95th percentile):

Assurance/Audit Services:

  • Management - $71,520 - $136,800
  • Senior - $51,120 - $97,440
  • 1-3 years experience - $41,760 - $79,440

Tax services:

  • Management - $82,800 - $157,680
  • Senior - $58,080 - $108,480
  • 1-3 years experience - $45,840 - $87,840

Accountants in Executive Roles

The highest average salaries in the field are reserved for Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), who typically have many years of experience in management accounting and hold CPA licenses. CFOs at financial services firms in Miami were offered starting salaries ranging from a 25th percentile average of $167,906 to a 90th percentile average of $497,500 for the most actively headhunted talent, according to the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide.

Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in Florida’s Cities and Rural Areas

Salary data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that accountants and auditors in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area had the highest average salary in the state, while accountants and auditors in Port Lucie were the second highest earners in the state.

Area Name
Employment
Annual Mean Wage
Cape Coral-Fort Myers
1630
60630
Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin
620
66820
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach
950
65700
Gainesville
1070
61550
Homosassa Springs
180
74110
Jacksonville
5550
67370
Lakeland-Winter Haven
1600
71920
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach
25710
77800
Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island
930
70460
North Florida nonmetropolitan area
480
51800
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton
1910
69800
Ocala
530
66480
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford
9890
71710
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville
1390
74820
Panama City
440
57420
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent
1200
62870
Port St. Lucie
890
76740
Punta Gorda
230
65860
Sebastian-Vero Beach
280
63530
Sebring
100
60000
South Florida nonmetropolitan area
340
65410
Tallahassee
2330
54480
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater
12530
70410
The Villages
80
75760

(This is a broad classification that includes accounting professionals in different areas of specialty, with different credentials, and with varying levels of experience).

Tax Preparer Salaries Throughout Florida

The average salary of Florida’s tax preparers varied dramatically depending on their location. Tax preparers in the Lakeland-Winter Haven area had by far the highest average salary in Florida in 2018.

Area Name
Employment
Annual Mean Wage
Cape Coral-Fort Myers
-
28330
Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin
-
52390
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach
170
31790
Jacksonville
330
38430
Lakeland-Winter Haven
-
58260
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach
1500
34620
North Florida nonmetropolitan area
-
26660
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton
130
33390
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford
300
41370
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville
100
53560
Panama City
-
26470
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent
130
32120
Port St. Lucie
190
28060
Sebastian-Vero Beach
60
35080
Tallahassee
120
45750
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater
530
56110

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_fl.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 Florida Department of Economic Opportunity 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.

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