Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Maine
Maine’s Board of Accountancy issues licenses to candidates interested in becoming CPAs. In order to become an accountant eligible for CPA licensure, candidates must earn a bachelor’s degree and log a total of 150 semester hours of college credit before passing the Uniform CPA Exam and gaining one year of supervised experience. With traditional bachelor’s programs only including 120 semester hours, online master’s degrees in accounting have made earning the full 150 semester hours required for a CPA license more accessible than ever.
While Maine does not house any of the “Big Four” international CPA firms, there are local firms that employ CPAs who perform business advisory and tax filing services. Notable among these is Countinghouse Associates in New Gloucester; Berry, Dunn, McNeil & Parker in Portland, and Loiselle, Goodwin and Hinds in Bangor.
The large corporations that call Maine home employ accountants at various levels and in diverse positions. Cost and capital accountants, financial controllers, and internal auditors all work in the corporate offices of the biggest companies founded and headquartered in Maine. Most notable among these are pet healthcare company IDEXX Laboratories, which has its headquarters in Westbrook; outdoor clothing outfitter L.L. Bean based in Freeport, and the famed Fairchild Semiconductor, which was founded in South Portland and still calls the area home. Supermarket giant, Hannaford’s, which has its corporate headquarters in Scarborough, and TD Bank, based in Falmouth, are both counted among the biggest corporate employers of managerial accountants.
Salary and Employment Facts about Accountancy in Maine
The Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information recognizes accounting as a high-pay, high-demand field, with projections showing more than 400 jobs in accounting and auditing becoming available every year during the ten-year period leading up to 2026.
The median salary for an accountant in Maine was $63,150 in 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More experienced accountants in the 90th percentile of this occupation earned an average of $104,050 that year. But this general classification doesn’t tell the whole story. Accounting is a profession that can’t be defined in general terms, with specialized roles, an array of different credentials and industry-specific expertise all adding up to a variety of different positions and an equally varied range of salaries.
Salaries for Accountants in Maine Working in Different Specialized Roles
The 2019 Robert Half Accounting and Finance Salary Guide goes into more depth in examining the salaries different types of accountants and auditors can expect to find at different levels of experience and with credentials in different specialties.
Ranges shown in the descriptions below represent starting salaries in Portland for the 25th and 95th percentile.
When examining salaries in specialized roles, keep in mind that numbers are based on starting salary only and that extras like bonuses, stock options and other incentives can add significantly to the take home pay these professionals can expect.
Corporate Staff Accountants
Even corporate staff accountants with a little as a year or two of experience are prepared to gather, verify, and analyze a great deal of data. Because of this, salaries in this field tend to be very competitive in the Portland area. Managers in corporate settings at the 50th percentile command $87,400, while senior-level accountants are offered a midpoint salary of $73,862. Even the greenest staff accountants in Portland with just one or two years of experience earn $58,900 at the 50th percentile.
- Manager: $72,438-$134,900
- Senior: $62,562-$110,912
- 1 to 3 years: $46,550-$92,150
Portland’s controllers bring knowledge in conducting audits and guiding a company’s financial decisions to the table, and their salaries reflect this level of expertise. In fact, even those in the bottom 25th percent are offered $100,225 to start, while those in the 95th percentile command more than double that, at $249,612.
More heavily specialized roles can lead to higher salaries. Financial fraud in Maine is a perpetual issue that forensic accountants continually monitor. The Maine Office of Securities educates investors in the state on how to avoid fraud and scams such as Ponzi schemes, and how to handle potential abuses on both the contribution and income side of crowdfunding.
Forensic accounting is a specialty reserved for those accountants with the expertise to examine financial records and collect evidence for use in criminal or civil proceedings, so it comes as no surprise that their salaries exceed other types of corporate accountants. The starting salary range for these accounting professionals in Portland is $72,200-$137,512, with the those in the 50th percentile earning $87,400.
CPAs and Auditors in Accounting Firms
CPAs are the stars of the show in public accounting, and their salaries reflect their importance. The top earners in CPA and professional services firms are the senior managers and directors, all of whom have many years of experience and hold CPA licensure, among other industry credentials related to external auditing and tax accounting. In the audit and assurance services sector, professionals at the high end in the top five percent earn $198,312, while in the tax services sector, they earn $201,638 at this level. Even with less experience, salaries for CPAs and other public accountants working for larger firms are impressive:
- Manager: $70,775-$135,375
- Senior: $50,588-$96,425
- 1-3 years’ experience: $41,325-$78,612
- Manager: $81,938-156,038
- Senior: $57,475-$107,350
- 1-3 years’ experience: $45,362-$86,925
Accountants in Executive Roles
Chief Financial Officers are at the top of the accounting compensation pyramid. Though they have left the accounting departments they may have started in years ago to step into the executive wing, it’s their accounting chops that helped get them there. It’s no surprise then that they are very well compensated for those years of experience, and for the CPA licenses they often hold. For example, CFOs in the bottom 25th percent in Portland earn $115,188 as base pay, while the top five percent earn $472,388.
Salaries for Maine’s Accountants in Metro and Non-metro Areas of the State
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average salary for accountants and auditors in the Portland area was higher than in other major metropolitan and non-metro areas as of 2018. Professionals in the top 10% of this occupational category located in Bangor were the highest earners.
(This broad classification includes accounting professionals in different areas of specialty, with different credentials, and with varying levels of experience.)
Tax Preparer Salaries in Portland and Maine’s Non-metro Areas
Salaries for tax preparers in the Portland area were similar to those in the nonmetropolitan areas of the state, all coming in just short of $40,000 a year on average in 2018 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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_me.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 Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information 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.