Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Indiana

The Indiana Board of Accountancy grants two different licenses to those who work to become public accountants in the state: CPA certification requires at least a bachelor’s degree (150 semester hour minimum), successful completion of all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam and two years of supervised experience. Because a bachelor’s degree results in just 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting provides the ideal way to earn the additional credit hours required for a CPA license in Indiana. Accounting Practitioners (APs) have fewer practice privileges that do not include audit and attestation functions. APs must be at least 18 years old and pass a written exam on accounting theory administered by the Board. Both APs and CPAs must participate in a minimum of 120 hours of continuing professional education within each three-year renewal period.

Indianapolis, the largest city in the state, the second largest in the Midwest, and the twelfth largest city in the country, is home to offices of all the “Big Four” accounting firms: KPMG, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. BKD, an internationally known accounting firm, also has offices in Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Evansville, and Indianapolis. Blue & Co., a firm specializing in offering managerial accounting consultation and auditing services for the agribusiness, construction, healthcare, and manufacturing industries, has offices in Carmel, Bloomington, Columbus, Seymour, and Indianapolis.

Indiana Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

Chief Executive magazine ranked Indiana as the fifth best state in which to do business in 2017, and the Indiana Business Research Center described how the state’s recent corporate tax cuts will further improve the business climate here.

The fact that Indiana is fertile ground for big business and the accounting profession is further reinforced by the $3 million investment from international accounting and auditing firm Grant Thornton to Indiana University to fund the new Grant Thornton Institute for Data Exploration for Risk Assessment and Management.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development included the field of accounting on its list of high pay/high demand jobs for 2018-2019, giving it a five-star rating for demand—the highest rating possible. The agency predicted strong growth in the job market for accountants, with expectations that the number of accounting jobs in Indiana would increase by 10.9% between 2016 and 2026.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median salary for an accountant in the state was $64,380 in 2018. Top earners in the 90th percentile earned an average of $105,800 that year, and independent CPA firm owners could do even better.

Top-line BLS data doesn’t give you the whole story, however. Indiana is a big state with a diverse mix of urban and rural markets as well as a wide array of industries, each with their own salary standards and accounting positions. The state average may not be as meaningful in terms of providing guidance on earning expectations for anyone looking for information on a specific role in a specific city.

Salaries for Accountants in Different Specialized Roles

The 2019 Robert Half Accounting and Finance Salary Guide takes a big step toward providing a more relevant snapshot of salaries across the state. By focusing on various roles and industries, and sometimes even specific experience levels, a much more accurate picture can be developed of starting salary levels, before accounting for bonuses or incentives.

The Guide gives numbers at the 25th, 50th, and 95th percentile, offered here for certain roles in Indianapolis.

Corporate Staff Accountants in Financial Services

Even relatively junior staff accountants can make good money in Indianapolis, especially those who land jobs with brokerages and other companies in the financial services sector. With one to three years of experience in the field, staff accountants with finance firms can expect to be offered starting salaries ranging from $49,955 to $93,605, with a $60,140 midpoint.

Experience only improves those numbers (25th to 95th percentile):

  • 3 to 5 years experience: $57,958 – $109,852
  • 5+ years experience: $65,960 – $125,372

Corporate Controllers

Controllers are among the most highly respected and highly experienced members of the average corporate accounting department. It’s the importance of the role in ensuring that accounting and business practices are aligned with internal policies that accounts for why they’re paid relatively high salaries. In corporate offices in Indianapolis the starting salary range for corporate controllers is $89,240 to $201,518, with a $114,702 midpoint.

Forensic Accountants

A forensic accountant has to have not only the right training, but also the right mindset to track down individual and corporate malfeasance through spreadsheets and other records. That earns them a starting salary within the range of $73,720 to $140,408, with a midpoint of $89,240.

Tax Specialists and Auditors in Public Accounting Firms

Public accounting touches every sector and every size of customer, from the tiny one-man show to Fortune 50 corporations. That’s why the range of starting salaries is so broad in these positions, but at the high end, where a CPA license is required, senior managers can make between $108,155 (25th percentile) and $205,882 (95th percentile) providing tax advising services alone.

At other levels, in various areas of practice, Indianapolis public accountants can make:

Assurance/Audit Services:

  • Management – $72,265 – $138,225
  • Senior – $51,652 – $98,455
  • 1-3 years experience – $42,195 – $80,268

Tax Services:

  • Management – $83,662 – $159,322
  • Senior – $58,685 – $109,610
  • 1-3 years experience – $46,318 – $88,755

Accountants in Executive Roles

The highest salaries for anybody with an accounting background were reserved for CFOs, due in large part to the fact that many hold CPA licensure, one of the most sought after credentials for financial execs.

Anybody who gets to this level is bringing in a lot of industry experience and leadership skills. Differences in company size and industry results in a relatively wide range of pay for corporate CFOs in Indianapolis: from $117,612 in the bottom quarter to $482,332 among the top five percent.

CFOs in the financial services industry in Indianapolis earned even more at between $163,688 and $485,000.

Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in Indiana’s Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Areas

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salaries for Indiana’s accountants varied substantially depending on location. The average salary was the highest in the South Bend-Mishawaka area in 2018.

Area Name
Annual Mean Wage
Central Indiana nonmetropolitan area
Fort Wayne
Lafayette-West Lafayette
Michigan City-La Porte
Northern Indiana nonmetropolitan area
South Bend-Mishawaka
Southern Indiana nonmetropolitan area
Terre Haute

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

Salaries for Tax Preparers Throughout Indiana

The average salary for a tax preparer in Indiana varied more than 1.5-fold depending on location. Those in Fort Wayne had a substantially higher average salary than those in other parts of Indiana (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018).

Area Name
Annual Mean Wage
Fort Wayne
Lafayette-West Lafayette
Northern Indiana nonmetropolitan area
Southern Indiana nonmetropolitan area
Terre Haute

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 – 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 – 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 Indiana Department of Workforce Development and reported in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database –

All salary and job growth data accessed in May 2019.