Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Minnesota

The Minnesota Board of Accountancy is responsible for issuing CPA licenses in the state to qualified candidates with bachelor’s degrees at minimum with 150 semester hours of college credit, one year (2000 hours) of accounting experience and passing scores on all sections of the Uniform CPA exam. With most bachelor’s programs consisting of about 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting is one of the best ways to earn the additional credit hours in advanced accounting coursework required for a CPA license in Minnesota.

Major employers of CPAs in the Twin Cities area include all of the “Big Four” CPA firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and Deloitte. International assurance services and consulting firm, RSM McGlardey, Inc. has offices in Bloomington and is also recognized as a major employer of accounting and finance professionals in the state.

Major Employment Industries for Accountants in Minnesota

Minnesota is a major contributor to global commerce and is home to a number of multinational professional services firms that serve as the areas biggest employers of financial analysts and risk advisors. Chief among these globally recognized companies that have a strong presence in Minnesota is Cargill, a private firm with annual revenues of $134.9 billion with locations in Hopkins, Savage, Wayzata, Minneapolis, Alberta, Maynard, and more.

Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development recently published a report listing the Fortune 500 companies with locations in the state. Minnesota is recognized as being very friendly to business and industry with tax laws that offer great incentives for businesses to locate here. The state boasts the distinction of having corporate offices for more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other state in the nation, making Minnesota a prime locale for state residents interested in becoming corporate accountants. Chief among these fortune 500 companies are United Health Group, retailers like Target Corporation and Best Buy, as well as 3M, which has been a household name in the state for decades. These corporations are Minnesota’s leading employers of managerial accountants, financial controllers, and internal auditors who manage many tens of billions of dollars in yearly revenue.

Salaries and Job Growth Trends for Accountants in Minnesota

The number of jobs in the field of accounting is growing in Minnesota according to the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The agency expects the number of accounting jobs statewide to increase by 9.4% in the ten-year period ending in 2026. This rate of increase along with normal changes in the job market should result in 3,030 jobs for accountants becoming available each year in Minnesota over this 10-year period.

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The median salary for an accountant in Minnesota was $66,240 in 2018 according to the US Department of Labor Statistics. Accountants in the 90th percentile of this occupational category typically held CPA licenses issued through the Minnesota Board of Accountancy and earned an average of $104,230. Though credentials and experience level can be inferred from this range, it doesn’t go far enough to explain what salaries are like for accountants with different job titles and in different specialized roles. For that, we turn to another resource.

Salaries for Accountants in Minnesota Working in Different Specialized Roles

The 2019 Robert Half Accounting and Finance Salary Guide provides further detail on the salaries associated with specific types of accounting jobs. Ranges shown represent starting salaries in Minneapolis for the 25th and 95th percentile in each one of the positions described below.

While salary stats can provide a glimpse into what accountants in specialized roles earn, it’s important to remember that even these numbers only present part of the picture. This is because an accountant’s compensation package often includes loads of extras, including bonuses and stock options.

Corporate Staff Accountants

Even staff accountants in the financial services industry in Minneapolis with as little as 1-3 years of experience in earn $75,970 at the 50th percentile, while senior accountants and managers at the 50th percentile earn $93,358 and $115,560, respectively. The ranges shown here give an idea of what Minneapolis-based corporate accountants can expect to earn at different levels of experience.

  • Manager: $96,300-$169,862
  • Senior: $77,040-$135,622
  • 1 to 3 years: $62,595-$108,070

Corporate Controllers

Controllers bring their skills enforcing internal controls to the corporate environment in Minneapolis, and their midpoint salary of $210,522 reflects this high level of expertise. Even more impressive, the top five percent of corporate controllers in Minneapolis earn $532,058.

Forensic Accountants

The examination of financial records for criminal and civil proceedings makes forensic accounting a standout specialty in accounting. The salary range for these accounting pros is $81,320-$154,882, with the salary midpoint at $98,440.

Tax Specialists and Auditors in Public Accounting Firms

Director-level CPAs in public accounting firms earn $140,438 in audit and assurance services and $143,380 in tax services at the 50th percentile. But those in the 95th percentile earn considerably more—$223,362 and $227,108, respectively.

Audit/Assurance Services

  • Manager: $79,715-$152,475
  • Senior: $56,978-$108,605
  • 1-3 years’ experience: $46,545-$88,542

Tax Services

  • Manager: $92,288-$175,748
  • Senior: $64,735-$120,910
  • 1-3 years’ experience: $51,092-$97,905

Accountants in Executive Roles

As would be expected, executive roles in accounting go to those with years of experience, leadership potential, and often CPA licensure – and they also come with some of the highest salaries in the industry. For example, CFOs in Minneapolis earn anywhere from $129,738-$532,058, with the midpoint for these professionals falling at $210,522.

Accountant and Auditor Salaries in Minnesota’s Cities and Rural Areas

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants and auditors in Minneapolis-St. Paul earned the highest average salary in 2018.

The 90th percentile in each area is representative of salaries for experienced accountants with CPA licenses issued through the Minnesota Board of Accountancy.

Area Name
Annual Mean Wage
Mankato-North Mankato
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington
Northeast Minnesota nonmetropolitan area
Northwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area
Southeast Minnesota nonmetropolitan area
Southwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area
St. Cloud

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

Tax Preparer Salaries in Minnesota’s Cities and Rural Areas

The salaries for tax preparers in Minnesota varied considerably depending on their location in the state. Tax preparers in Minneapolis-St. Paul earned the highest average salary in 2018 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Area Name
Annual Mean Wage
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington
Northwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area
Southeast Minnesota nonmetropolitan area
Southwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area

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 Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic 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.