Steps to Becoming an Accountant in South Carolina
The South Carolina Board of Accountancy licenses qualified candidates interested in becoming certified public accountants. Requirements for licensure include completing 150 semester hours of formal education within a bachelor’s degree program or higher, gaining a year of public accounting experience, and passing the Uniform CPA Exam.
With most bachelor’s programs consisting of just 120 semester hours of college credit, earning a master’s in accounting provides the additional credit hours in advanced accounting coursework required for CPA licensure in South Carolina.
Public accounting firms in South Carolina, such as “Big Four” CPA and professional services firm, Deloitte, which has locations in both Columbia and Greenville, as well as PricewaterhouseCoopers, with an office in Spartanburg, are the obvious choices for CPAs interested in providing external audit and management consultation services. CPAs also often establish independent practices or work for one of the many local or regional firms in the state.
The headquarters of specialty nonprofit fund accounting software producer, Blackbaud, is located in Charleston and is a major local employer of cost and capital accountants, as well as fund accountants. Accountants also hold titles like financial control officer and budget analyst for industry giants like AREVA Federal Services, a nuclear engineering company that has a branch office in Aiken. These positions involve everything from mitigating risk and enhancing profits to adhering to federal compliance requirements.
Find out more about CPA requirements in our step-by-step guide on how to become a CPA in South Carolina.
South Carolina Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts
The accounting field is booming in South Carolina. In fact, the Department of Workforce and Labor Intelligence, which tracks growth rates and openings in the industry, just named accounting among the top 50 fastest growing professional fields statewide. And it’s no wonder…between 2018 and 2028, the Department projects accounting jobs in the state to increase by nearly 12%. New job growth, combined with retirements and natural job turnover, will result in about 1,920 annual job openings in the field during the ten-year period leading to 2028.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), South Carolina’s accountants earned an average salary of $60,950 as of May 2020.
Salaries for Accountants in Different Specialized Roles
The BLS also provides an in-depth breakdown of accounting salaries according to a number of factors, such as experience, role/title, and industry, thereby providing unique insight into the earning power of these professionals in South Carolina.
Note that the following May 2020 BLS stats feature base salaries only and do not include salary incentives such as bonuses and stock options, both of which can significantly increase salaries for accountants, particularly those in leadership and executive positions.
Corporate Accountants, Bookkeepers, and Accounting Clerks
Financial services firms require a lot of number crunching and have a constant demand for well-trained accounting professionals. With just a year or two of experience, you’ll earn about $29,570 as a corporate accountant in South Carolina, which represents the 25th percentile. Once you’ve settled in and gained a handful of years of experience, you’ll earn closer to the median level here, which is $36,800. Top earning corporate accountants in South Carolina, which include seasoned pros and those in senior-level positions, earn about $45,640 – $54,760, which represents the 75th – 90th percentile.
Forensic accountants have a specialized skillset that is both in constant demand and offers high value to firms that employ them. As a result, salaries for these accounting specialists are impressive. The BLS reports a salary of about $80,100 for forensic accountants in South Carolina, which represents the 75th percentile among all accountants and auditors in the state.
Competitive salaries for these professionals can also be found in many of the state’s metro areas like Charleston, where they average about $80,450.
Controllers and Other Financial Managers
Controllers bring a unique skillset to the practice of accounting that is aimed at regulatory compliance and oversight of internal controls. In South Carolina, they earn a median salary of $113,010, while those in the 75thpercentile earn about $155,810. The top earners in this profession earn salaries that exceed $208,000.
Median salaries for controllers in many of South Carolina’s metro areas tend to exceed the state’s median. For example, in the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin metro area, the median salary for controllers is $123,330, while in Hilton Head (includes Bluffton and Beaufort), it’s about $118,590.
CPAs and Auditors
Accounting services at public accounting firms in Columbia are delivered in all shapes and sizes, from small boutique outfits that handle the finances of wealthy families and individuals up to the largest companies that handle third-party services for the largest corporations in the state. South Carolina’s CPA earn about $105,400, which represents the 90th percentile among all accountants and auditors in the state. In Charleston, they earn a similar average salary of $105,090.
Accountants in Executive Roles
CFOs often come from a background in accounting, brining business acumen, leadership skills, and a deep familiarity of accounting principles to the corporate setting. In South Carolina, these top-level pros earn a median salary of $169,500, while those in the 75th percentile and above earn salaries that exceed $208,000.
In the Columbia metro area, the median salary for accounting executives is $176,470, while in the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin metro area, it’s $169,740.
Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in South Carolina’s Cities and Rural Areas
Accountants throughout most of South Carolina’s metro and nonmetro areas enjoy median salaries that range from the mid-$50,000s to the lower $60,000s, with accountants in the Hilton Head metro area coming out on top at the median level.
(This is a broad classification that includes accounting professionals in different areas of specialty, with different credentials, and with varying levels of experience).
Tax Preparer Salaries Throughout South Carolina
Salaries for tax prepares vary widely throughout South Carolina. The top earners are found in the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin metro area where, at the top of the pay scale, they earn more than $118,000.
May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job growth data for Accountants and Auditors, Financial Managers, Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks, and Chief Executives. Figures represent national data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed April 2021.
Job growth projections sourced from the South Carolina Department of Workforce and Labor Intelligence and reported in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2018-2028) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm.