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Which Cities Offer the Best Prospects for Accountants?

Jul 2nd 2018
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Millennials are mobile. It’s been said people will change jobs 15 times over their lifetimes. However, not everyone wants to do that. Suppose you are mentoring a college student preparing to enter the accounting field. They are willing to move somewhere, but they want to stay there and earn as a good living as an accountant. Where would you send them? What cities offer the best prospects for the accounting profession?

Understanding Statistics

One of the unexpected benefits of paying taxes is the extensive statistical research done by the government, specifically the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There’s lots of data available for the profession “Accountants and Auditors.”

Before diving into the data, understand the government aggregates many jobs into this one category. According to, here are some ranges by job based on 2015 figures. Senior managerial jobs pay far higher.

Job Title Annual Salary Range
Senior managers/directors in tax services  $ 95,500 – 198,000
Accountants in audit/assurance services $ 94,250 – 191,750
Newer accountants in tax services  at public accounting firms $ 55,750 – 69,750


The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017 Occupational Outlook Handbook report showed the following states were best for accountants and auditors. Bear in mind nationwide, the 2017 median pay was $ 69,350. In 2016 there were 1,397,000 jobs in the field. Ten year growth is projected at 10%, or an additional 139,900 jobs added to the industry.

Best States for Accountants

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wages report showed the following states were best for accountants and auditors. They include “Location Quotient”, the ratio of area concentration to national average concentration.

State Employment Employment per 1,000 Location Quotient Annual Salary
CA 143,670 8.61 0.99 $ 83,530
TX 116,000 9.76 1.12 $ 81,330
NY 108,130 11.74 1.35 $ 95,430
FL 73,910 8.78 1.01 $ 70,050
PA 52,150 9.02 1.04 $ 74,730

Suppose you looked at the statistics slightly differently. What are the states with the highest concentration of accountants? (Location quotient).

States with the Greatest Concentration of Accountants

State Employment Employment per 1,000 Location Quoient Annual Salary
DC 1.76 10,860 15.33 $ 96,880
CO 1.55 34,540 13.52 $ 79,300
DE 1.47 5,660 12.78

$ 79,250

NY 1.35 108,130 11.74 $ 95,430
SD 1.21 4,410 10.52 $ 65,460

Best Cities (Metro Areas) for Accountants

Back to the original question. What are the best cities for pursuing an accounting career? The Bureau of Labor Statistics looks at metro areas.

Metro Employment Employment/1,000 Location Quotient Annual Salary
San Rafael, CA 1,330 11.61 1.33 $ 106,050
NY/NJ Metro 90,050 13.45 1.55 $ 101,520
San Jose, CA 12,470 11.45 1.31 $ 97,910
Faribanks, AK 200 5.50 0.63 $ 94,680
DC Beltway 31,620 12.55 1.44 $ 93,900
Newark, NJ 11,000 9.43 1.08 $ 93,750
San Francisco 13,310 13.72 1.58 $ 92,190

What About the Cost of Living?

By now, several trends are obvious. NYC has plenty of corporate HQs. They have lots of accountants. Washington, DC has many government agencies. Silicon Valley and San Francisco have established tech companies and startups. They are also some of the most expensive places in the country, if not the world to live.  So now cost of living becomes a factor.  CNN has an online calculator for comparing the cost of living between cities. 

The website reported the 2018 cost of living indexes for 163 North American Cities. Here are the six most US expensive cities based on cost of living and purchasing power index statistics:

City Cost of Living Index Purchasing Power Index
New York 100.00 100.00
San Francisco 97.84 92.96
Anchorage 94.99 124.92
Honolulu 94.15 103.08
Brooklyn 93.79 87.04
Rockville, MD 92.66 130.79

Here are the least expensive US cities utilizing the same metrics:

City Cost of Living Index Pruchasing Power Index
Athens, GA 60.55 110.52
San Antonio, TX 60.92 154.92
College Station, TX 61.85 118.70
Knoxville, TN 62.18 128.69
Boise, ID 62.65 130.86
Reno, NV 62.88 136.40


It’s obvious the profession is growing. The country will need more and more accountants. Major metro areas employ more accountants. They also pay more.  The cost of living is also higher. Access the highlighted links and research your favorite cities.


Replies (2)

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By lg melacarne
Jul 6th 2018 16:20 EDT

Very interesting. .. thank you.

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Replying to lg melacarne:
Bryce Sanders
By Bryce Sanders
Jul 9th 2018 05:01 EDT

Glad you liked it!

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