A State By State Accounting Guide
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Steps to Becoming an Accountant in New York

In 2015, the New York State Department of Labor listed the accounting and auditing professions as being one of the most in-demand professions statewide, with the demand extending to the central New York region, the capital region, Finger Lakes, the Hudson Valley, western New York, Long Island, New York city, and North Country. Between 2012 and 2022, the Department expects the number of accounting jobs to increase by 16 percent, which equates to 4,500 new positions for accountants during that period.

As home to the New York Stock Exchange and the financial district of Wall Street, New York City continues to carry a weighty reputation for being the financial capital of the world. The Federal Reserve Bank has a location here, and New York City is where some of the world’s most powerful private banking institutions are headquartered. Investment banks like JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley are legendary fixtures in Manhattan, as are some of the world's biggest credit issuers like Citibank and the American Express Company. Insurance and financial service providers with headquarters in New York number in the dozens, and include American International Group (AIG), The Dreyfus Corporation, and Merrill Lynch.

New York is a hub of international commerce where accountants familiar with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are assets to the multinational corporations and international accounting firms they work for. The Hearst Corporation, IBM, Pfizer pharmaceuticals, and the Sony Corporation of America are just a few of the global business giants headquartered in New York. 

There is considerable variance in areas of specialty for those interested in becoming accountants in New York. Those with personalities better suited to nonprofit accounting work for organizations like the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Government accountants work for agencies like the New York City Department of Education and New York’s FBI offices where they manage allocated funds drawn from state and federal tax revenue.

CPAs in New York

The New York State Board of Public Accountancy grants CPA licensure to qualified applicants who have completed 150 semester hours of college credit, passed the Uniform CPA Exam, and who have gone on to gain a year of experience in the field. Since most bachelor’s programs consist of just 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting provides the perfect path to earning the additional credit hours required for a CPA license in New York. CPAs specializing in management accounting, auditing, and attestation thrive in New York City, as all of the “Big Four” CPA firms have offices here to serve the banking and financial service industries. In fact, three of the Big Four (Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Ernst & Young) have their U.S. headquarters here.

Other Industries in New York State

As the epicenter of fashion and the home of New York Fashion Week, apparel companies in New York are major employers of capital accounting specialists and management accountants. A study by Fordham University business students revealed that in 2011, Fashion Week alone pumped in almost $21 million to the New York economy. Companies headquartered in New York include the Polo/Ralph Lauren Corporation and women’s apparel manufacturer, New York & Company; both located in New York City, as well as AllU Activewear, Inc. in Albany. Demand for accountants is actually particularly high in the Capital Region of Albany and nearby Hudson Valley, which includes Westchester. 

Outside of the big city, New York State has swaths of farmland and a significant dairy industry, ranking third in the nation in milk production according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics. Big industry is big business, and companies like Crowley Foods in Binghamton and Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc. in Buffalo retain management accountants, controllers, budget analysts, cost and capital accountants, as well as environmental auditors who work to mitigate the impacts of their large scale farming operations.

New York Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

As the financial capital of the United States, New York’s accountants and auditors, particularly those in specialized subfields like forensic accounting, will continue to find their services are in high demand. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects jobs for accountants and auditors to account for four of every 10 new business and financial operations jobs in New York between 2012 and 2018.

Data from the BLS shows the average annual salary for accountants in New York to be more than $16,000 higher than the national average for the field of accounting. New York’s metropolitan areas house the highest paid accountants in the country, with the top ten percent in the White Plains metropolitan division making $161,510 on average.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that accountants in Rochester made an average of $69,390 a year in 2014, while Syracuse-based accountants averaged $71,680. The state average for accountants in 2014 is $89,850 annually, with those in the 90th percentile earning an average of $149,350.

According to data from the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance, forensic accountants in Albany earned an average of $88,755. Buffalo-based controllers at mid-sized firms averaged $102,006, while those at large firms made an average salary of $171,950.

As the world’s financial capital, it’s no surprise that CFOs in New York City earned an average of $526,115 a year, with many making much more than this.

Accounting Salaries in New York’s Cities and Non-Metro Areas

Accountants in New York can earn widely differing salaries. Where a particular accountant fits on this range is dependent largely on specialty, location, and CPA licensure.

The following table shows a detailed salary analysis for accountants and auditors throughout New York (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014):

Area name
Annual mean wage
Albany-Schenectady-Troy NY
Binghamton NY
Buffalo-Niagara Falls NY
Elmira NY
Glens Falls NY
Ithaca NY
Kingston NY
Nassau-Suffolk NY Metropolitan Division
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island NY-NJ-PA
New York-White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown NY
Rochester NY
Syracuse NY
Utica-Rome NY
Capital/Northern New York nonmetropolitan area
East Central New York nonmetropolitan area
Central New York nonmetropolitan area
Southwest New York nonmetropolitan area

Tax Preparer Salaries Throughout New York State

New York state tax preparers earned $63,900 per year on average. The average for tax preparers in metropolitan areas tends to be higher, with the 75th percentile reporting salaries of up to $88,600.

The table below shows salary and employment data for New York-based tax preparers in metropolitan and non-metro areas of the state (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014):

Area name
Annual mean wage
Albany-Schenectady-Troy NY
Buffalo-Niagara Falls NY
Nassau-Suffolk NY Metropolitan Division
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island NY-NJ-PA
New York-White Plains-Wayne NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown NY
Rochester NY
Syracuse NY
Capital/Northern New York nonmetropolitan area
Central New York nonmetropolitan area
Southwest New York nonmetropolitan area

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

New York Tax Laws in the News

The American Community Survey, recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, revealed that some counties in New York have the highest property tax rates of any in the nation. Data from 2009 shows that Nassau County property owners pay an average of $8,206 in property taxes, while Westchester property owners pay $8,160, and in Rockland the average is $7,676 per year. This is compared to the national average of $1,917 per year. Tax advisors and other tax specialists have become particularly adept at working to mitigate the impact this has on the cost of living and the cost of doing business in the state. 

There was good news recently for New York as a result of tax breaks being offered to entice businesses into the state. It was announced that the state’s 30 percent tax credit made available to film and television producers has attracted eight new television series that will begin filming in 2011. This is expected to create 4,700 new jobs across the state. Over 70 new film and television projects have come to New York since January 2011, and, as a result, the industry is expected to infuse $1 billion into the state’s economy this year alone.

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