As the business world becomes more complex, with greater regulation, more financial scrutiny, and calls for higher corporate transparency, the accounting profession has risen to even greater importance. Accounting is absolutely critical to understanding the health and vitality of businesses, pension plans, governments, and non-profit organizations. Accountants compile, verify and tabulate financial records in order to keep organizations running effectively. Additionally, accountants are key to ensuring individuals and organizations can meet their obligations to file and pay taxes to various local, state, and federal taxing authorities.
To become an accountant requires specialized training, and most accountants hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, many accountants choose to qualify as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), which requires passing various exams and minimum work experience requirements.
Accounting is a high-paying profession with good job prospects for those able to qualify, but where exactly are the best opportunities for accounting professionals?
Our study at AdvisorSmith ranked 363 of the largest U.S. cities for their attractiveness to accounting professionals. Below, you can find the 50 best cities for accountants to pursue their careers in. Additionally, we also found the top-10 small, medium, and large-sized cities for accountants in the country.
Best Cities for Accountants
1. Parkersburg, WV
Parkersburg is a city in West Virginia that borders Ohio. Historically, Parkersburg was an important terminus for railroads on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, as well as an oil refining city for a period of time. Later, the city hosted important manufacturing facilities producing chemicals, glass, textiles, and plastics. Today, energy, including natural gas development, plays a role in supporting the economy in Parkersburg.
Accountants in Parkersburg earned an average wage of $80,740, and the city had a cost of living that was 16% below the national average. The city also hosted 70% more jobs for accountants than the average city.
2. Midland, TX
Midland is located in West Texas, halfway between the cities of El Paso and Fort Worth. The city is the home of administrative offices for oil fields in West Texas. The Permian Basin, in West Texas, produces about 20% of the oil and natural gas in the United States. In addition to the oil industry, Midland also has telecommunications and distribution center employment.
With 1,490 accounting jobs, Midland has 54% more accounting jobs per capita than the average American city. Additionally, those accounting professionals earned an above-average salary of $86,880 and benefit from Midland’s lower-than-average cost of living.
3. Springfield, IL
As the capital city of the state of Illinois, Springfield was the top city in our study of the best cities for accountants. With an important role in the oversight of state, local, and county governments in Illinois, Springfield provides ample opportunities for accountants to practice their craft. Springfield has substantial medical facilities that also drive employment in the region. Additionally, Springfield is an important historical city, as President Abraham Lincoln began his political career in the city and lived in the city for many years.
The city of Springfield has 48% more accounting jobs than the average American city. Accountants earned an average salary of $76,890 in Springfield. Those salaries go far in Springfield as the city boasts a cost of living 12% below the average U.S. city.
4. Birmingham, AL
Birmingham was the #1 large city in our study for accountants. Named after the city of the same name in England, Birmingham was an important industrial center in the South through the 1960s, with a focus on iron and steel products. Today, Birmingham has one of the largest concentrations of banking service jobs in the country, adding to the demand for accountants and auditors in the city.
Salaries for accountants in Birmingham average $76,800, while the cost of living is 9% below the national average. Additionally, Birmingham hosts 6,580 accounting jobs, which is 46% above the per-capita average.
5. Denver, CO
Denver is the capital city and most populous city in the state of Colorado. Located in the center of the state, Denver is also exactly one mile above sea level, giving it the nickname “The Mile High City.” Denver’s economy is diversified, with strengths in transportation and distribution, telecommunications, energy and mining, high-tech, and restaurants. These diversified industries employ numerous accountants in the city.
These industries provide many opportunities for accountants, with 86% more employment in accounting jobs in the city compared with the average city. Accountants in Denver earn more than the average, with average salaries of $85,980.
Top Cities for Accountants by Size
Lifestyles for accountants vary widely in different types of cities. In particular, it is difficult to compare cities of differing sizes. In order to provide a more detailed comparison, we broke down our study into three city sizes. Below, we highlight the best big (population above 500,000), midsize (population of 150,000-500,000), and small cities (population below 150,000) where accountants may choose to pursue their careers.
Top 50 Cities for Accountants
Below, we list the top cities for workers in the accounting industry. We include data on the total number of jobs, the number of accounting jobs per capita, average annual salaries, and the cost of living.
|Rank||City||State||City Size||Jobs||Average Salary||Location Quotient||Cost of Living|
|16||New York City||NY||L||120,490||$102,090||1.43||128|
AdvisorSmith’s study examined three key variables in order to determine the best city for accountants.
1. Density of accounting jobs in a city
As accounting is a specialized profession that requires substantial training, we ranked cities that have a higher concentration of accounting jobs relative to the general worker population as more desirable. This density is represented by the location quotient in BLS employment data.
The higher the location quotient, the more jobs that are available for accountants in a given geographic area, and the easier it should be for any given accountant to find an accounting position there. In the United States, there are approximately 1,280,700 jobs in the accounting field, including both accountants and auditors.
2. Average annual accounting salaries in the city
We considered the average annual salary earned by accounting employees in each city in our study. The higher the average salary, the more highly we ranked a given metro area. The average salary for accountants in our study was roughly $79,520, which is far above the average salary of $53,490 for all jobs nationwide.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment in the accounting profession will grow by 4% in the 10-year period from 2019-2029, which is as fast as average employment growth.
3. A city’s cost of living index
We adjusted the salaries earned by accountants using a cost of living multiplier. By accounting for differences in the cost of housing, food, transportation, and other living expenses in different cities, we can equalize the value of salaries in different metropolitan areas. Cities with more affordable lifestyles ranked more highly in our survey.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
- AdvisorSmith’s City Cost of Living Index
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics