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.
Find out more about CPA requirements in our step-by-step guide on how to become a CPA in Florida.
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 recent 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 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2020, Florida was home to the fourth highest number of accountants and auditors in the country.
Plus, the number of accounting positions in Florida is increasing faster than in the U.S. as a whole. The total number of accounting jobs in the state is expected to increase by 13.9% between 2018 and 2028 according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. New jobs, along with normal changes in the workforce, will result in 9,040 average annual job openings in the ten-year period leading to 2028.
Salaries for Accountants, CPAs and CFOs in Florida
According to the BLS, the median salary for accountants in Florida was $65,100 a year in 2020, with the highest earners (top 10%) earning more than $118,600.
The BLS also highlights what accountants and auditors are earning at different levels, in different roles, and with varying degrees of experience and education. Note that the following base salaries do not take into account the bonuses and other financial incentives that are typical in this profession.
Corporate Staff Accountants, Bookkeepers, and Accounting Clerks
Corporate staff accountants, bookkeepers, and accounting clerks in Florida earn a median salary of $39,730. Those new to the profession earn closer to the 25th percentile, at $32,670, while those with significant experience and those holding managerial roles earn closer to the top of the pay scale (75th – 90th percentile), at $49,640 – $61,650.
Forensic accountants have a unique skillset that results in salaries that usually exceed their general accountant and auditor counterparts. In Florida, they earn a salary of about $88,100, which reflects the 75th percentile among accountants and auditors.
Controllers and Other Financial Managers
Controllers and other financial managers earn a median salary of $118,070, while those with considerable experience earn closer to $167,500, which represents the 75th percentile. The top earners in Florida in management and controller roles (90th percentile) earn more than $208,000 annually.
CPAs and Auditors
CPAs holding high-level management or director positions in large accounting firms where audit and assurance services are offered earn some of the highest salaries among accountants in Florida. For example, in Jacksonville, they earn about $103,420, while in Miami, they earn $128,300, both of which represent the 90th percentile.
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. In Florida, these top-level professionals earn $182,900 at the median level, and more than $208,000 at the 75th percentile and above.
Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in Florida’s Cities and Rural Areas
Salary data from the BLS reveal that some of the highest median salaries among accountants and auditors in Florida were in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie, and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro areas:
(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 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville metro earned among the highest salaries in the state as of 2020:
May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job growth data for Accountants and Auditors, Financial Managers, Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks, and Chief Executives. Figures represent state data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed April 2021.
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 (2018-2028) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm.