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

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that Massachusetts is one of the leading employers of accountants in the nation, and is one of the best states in which to work in terms of salary expectations. The Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development Office projects a 12% increase in accounting jobs by the year 2022, which is equivalent to some 4,460 new jobs.

The Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy grants licensure to CPA candidates with bachelor’s degrees from accredited programs and a total of 150 semester hours of college credit, one year of experience, and passing scores on the Uniform CPA Exam. Because a bachelor’s degree results in just 120 semester hours of college credit, aspiring CPAs often enroll in online master’s degree programs in accounting to earn the full 150 semester hours required for a CPA license in Massachusetts.  Licensed CPAs in Massachusetts hold positions in firms like Eastern Research Group in Lexington providing economic, regulatory, and policy analysis, or in the corporate offices of locally based banks like Berkshire Bank in Pittsfield. Some of the most sought after positions are with the “Big Four” CPA firms KPMG, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, which have a very strong presence in Massachusetts. All four of these firms have offices in Boston.

Those interested in becoming accountants without pursuing the CPA designation can enter the field with an associate’s degree allowing them to provide tax services under the employ of Massachusetts based accounting firms like KAF Financial Group in Boston or as accounts payable/receivable specialists for the Winter Wyman Companies in North Andover.

Government accountants work in the state’s county, municipal, and state government offices. These bachelor or grad degreed accountants are found in the administrative offices of the Army Corps of Engineers in Concord or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in Jamaica Plain.

Management accountants, cost and capital accountants, financial controllers, and internal auditors are found in Massachusetts’ private sector working in the corporate offices of multi-national corporations like Philips, which has an office in Andover. Massachusetts is home to a number of corporations, including Iron Mountain, with headquarters in Boston and One Beacon Insurance headquartered in Canton. These companies are recognized as being among the largest private employers of accountants in the state. Accountants specializing in investment advisory services are major players in investment firms like Fidelity Investments, which has offices in Boston, or Mass Mutual Financial Group based in Springfield.

Accounting information systems specialists and IT network auditors can explore career options with companies specializing in high tech products and operations. The Kronos Company headquartered in Chelmsford, Aspen Technology in Burlington, and the innovative healthcare product producer, Coviden, with U.S. headquarters in Mansfield, are some of the Massachusetts based companies that employ these technically-focused accountants.

Accountants with a greater interest in social issues than profit margins may find nonprofit organizations like Horizons for Homeless Children, or Brigham and Women’s Hospital are better suited to their calling. These organizations need accountants who work as fund specialists to manage expenditure to grant ratios. 

Salary and Employment Facts About Accountancy in Massachusetts

Accounting is a lucrative profession in Massachusetts, with accountants and auditors in the state earning the fourth highest average salary in the country in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Massachusetts also had the fifth highest concentration of accounting positions in the country statewide that year, with the Boston area having the 6th highest concentration of any metropolitan area in the US.

The field of accounting is growing rapidly in Massachusetts with a job growth rate of 12% expected between 2012 and 2022 according to the state’s Labor and Workforce Development Department. This agency expects 1,545 new accounting jobs to become available on average each year during this time frame.

Salaries for a Variety of Accounting Positions in Massachusetts

The median salary for an accountant in Massachusetts was $73,330 in 2014—11.3% higher than the national median salary for this occupation.  Accountants entering the workforce earned an average salary of $51,090, while those with experience averaged $94,500.

General accountants with five or more years of experience working at large corporate accounting firms in Boston earned between $91,438 and $116,708 according to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide.  General accountants starting out at such firms earned salaries within the range of $60,183 to $73,483.

Forensic accountants in Springfield earned between $74,360 and $115,960, while controllers at small financial services firms in this city earned salaries ranging from $95,680 to $128,440. 

Chief Financial Officers at small financial services firms in Boston are typically licensed as CPAs and are well-compensated for holding the credential, earning between $206,150 and $365,750 a year. 

Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in Urban and Rural Areas of Massachusetts

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that general accountants and auditors working in the Boston area earned the highest average salary statewide in 2014.  General accountants and auditors in the Haverhill area in the top 10% of this occupational category had a substantially higher average salary than their colleagues throughout the rest of Massachusetts:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Barnstable Town MA
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA NECTA Division
Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton MA NECTA Division
Framingham MA NECTA Division
Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury MA-NH NECTA Division
Lawrence-Methuen-Salem MA-NH NECTA Division
Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner MA
Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford MA-NH NECTA Division
New Bedford MA
Peabody MA NECTA Division
Pittsfield MA
Springfield MA-CT
Taunton-Norton-Raynham MA NECTA Division
Worcester MA-CT
Nantucket Island and Marthas Vineyard nonmetropolitan are
Southwest Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area
Northwest Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area
North Central Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area

Tax Preparer Salaries in the Major Metropolitan Areas of Massachusetts

Tax preparers in Barnstable Town earned an average salary comparable to that of accountants and were much more highly paid than their colleagues in other Massachusetts cities in 2014 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics):

Area name
Annual mean wage
Barnstable Town MA
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA NECTA Division
Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton MA NECTA Division
Estimate not released
Framingham MA NECTA Division
Springfield MA-CT
Worcester MA-CT

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2014. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing.

Massachusetts Accountancy and Tax Laws in the News

In a show of reverence for its rich history, the Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit was extended last year and will be available till 2017. This program allows a credit of up to $100,000 per year for expenditures associated with the rehabilitation of historic structures in the state. 

The real estate tax credit for senior citizens age 65 and over, also known as the Circuit Breaker credit, was also established last year. This program is designed to reduce the tax burden on the state’s seniors with modest incomes whose real estate tax payments are greater than 10% of their total income. To be eligible for this credit, state residents must live in a home they own or rent and have an income of no more than $51,000 for a single filer or $77,000 for those filing jointly. The maximum credit allowed is $960, and the value of the property eligible for this credit may not exceed $764,000.

Public accountants in the state often join the Massachusetts Association of Public Accountants or the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants. Both of these organizations provide advocacy services for accountants, as well as continuing education and networking opportunities.

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