Choosing the right city to anchor your accounting career is paramount. It sets the stage for professional growth, income potential, and overall job satisfaction. Luckily, accountants and especially CPAs are in high demand almost every where. You won’t have a problem finding a job.
Instead, you’ll have a problem deciding where you want to live. Today, we’re diving into an exploration of the 11 best cities for accountants, considering factors like salary, job availability, and cost of living.
Whether you’re a seasoned CPA or just starting, this guide is crafted to help you navigate through your options.
Let’s jump in!
- What are the Top Cities for Accountants & CPAs?
- New York City, New York
- Chicago, Illinois
- Los Angeles, California
- Dallas, Texas
- Houston, Texas
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Washington, D.C.
- Boston, Massachusetts
- San Francisco, California
- Seattle, Washington
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Top Cities for Accountants & CPAs?
New York City, New York
NYC Accountant Stats
- Average Salary: $85,000
- Job Availability: High; home to numerous financial institutions and the Big Four accounting firms.
- Cost of Living: Very high; however, the elevated salary levels help to offset this.
NYC is an accountant’s dream, offering endless career opportunities and networking possibilities. The hustle and bustle of the city provide a unique energy, making it a top choice for many.
Financial Hub: NYC is a global financial center, home to Wall Street and numerous financial institutions including investment banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, and the New York Stock Exchange. This concentration of financial services companies provides a wealth of opportunities for CPAs in various specializations.
Corporate Headquarters: Many large corporations are headquartered in New York City, offering a steady demand for financial professionals for internal accounting, financial analysis, and managerial accounting roles.
Diversity of Industries: Beyond finance, NYC has a diverse array of industries, including media, advertising, real estate, technology, and healthcare, all of which require accounting services.
Public Accounting Firms: The Big Four accounting firms (Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG) as well as numerous mid-size and small accounting practices have a significant presence in the city, providing a range of career opportunities for CPAs.
Networking Opportunities: The concentration of businesses and professionals offers unmatched networking opportunities. Professional associations, conferences, and events are plentiful, allowing CPAs to build relationships and advance their careers.
Salary and Career Growth: Due to the high demand and the city’s cost of living, CPAs in NYC often command higher salaries compared to many other cities. The competitive environment also promotes career growth and skill development.
Regulatory and Tax Complexity: New York’s complex regulatory and tax environment creates a demand for CPAs with expertise in navigating these challenges for businesses and individuals alike.
Culture and Lifestyle: For many, the allure of NYC is not just professional but also personal. The city offers a vibrant cultural scene, entertainment options, diverse culinary experiences, and an energetic lifestyle.
Continuing Education: There are numerous institutions in NYC that offer continuing professional education, which CPAs need to maintain their licensure and stay current with changing regulations and standards.
International Opportunities: For CPAs interested in international finance or who work with multinational corporations, NYC’s status as an international business hub provides exposure to global financial practices and regulations.
Chicago Accountant Stats
- Average Salary: $70,000
- Job Availability: High; diverse economy with a strong presence of financial services and consulting firms.
- Cost of Living: Moderate; more affordable than NYC, offering a balanced urban experience.
Chicago is another major city that presents an attractive environment for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) to live and work for several reasons:
Diverse Economy: Chicago has a very diversified economy with strong sectors in finance, manufacturing, information technology, health services, and commodities trading. This diversity offers CPAs opportunities across various industries.
Presence of Major Companies: The city is home to several Fortune 500 companies and a myriad of other businesses ranging from startups to large corporations. This provides CPAs with a range of potential employers and clients.
Financial Markets: Chicago is an important finance hub, particularly with the Chicago Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange, creating a demand for financial and accounting professionals.
Professional Services Firms: Chicago has a significant number of professional services firms, including the Big Four accounting firms, management consultancies, and numerous mid-sized and smaller accounting practices that regularly hire CPAs.
Educational Opportunities: The city has numerous prestigious universities and colleges offering accounting degrees and continuing professional education, which is crucial for CPAs to maintain their licenses and stay current with regulations.
Central Location: Chicago’s central location in the United States makes it a convenient hub for national and international business, enhancing the potential for business development and career opportunities for CPAs.
Cultural Attractions: With its rich cultural history, Chicago offers a high quality of life, including world-class museums, theaters, music, sports, and dining, which is attractive for professionals looking to balance work with a vibrant social and cultural life.
Networking and Professional Organizations: The city has numerous professional organizations and networking groups specifically for CPAs, such as the Illinois CPA Society, providing support and opportunities for career advancement.
Lower Cost of Living: Compared to cities like New York and San Francisco, Chicago generally offers a more affordable cost of living, which can make it an attractive city for professionals who are conscious of their budget.
Regulatory Hub: Chicago’s economy includes a strong legal and regulatory framework, which demands a higher number of CPAs who are knowledgeable about compliance and can navigate complex regulatory issues.
While Chicago may not have the same concentration of financial services as New York City, it offers a robust and varied business environment with a lower cost of living and a central location, making it an appealing alternative for accounting professionals.
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles Accountant Stats
- Average Salary: $75,000
- Job Availability: High; entertainment industry offers unique accounting roles.
- Cost of Living: High; but the city’s lifestyle, weather, and industry variety make it worth it for many.
Los Angeles offers a unique and vibrant setting for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) with several advantages to living and working there:
Entertainment Industry: Los Angeles is famously known as the entertainment capital of the world. CPAs with expertise in entertainment accounting can find numerous opportunities working with studios, production companies, artists, and supporting businesses.
International Trade and Logistics: As a major port city with the Port of Los Angeles and LAX Airport, there is significant activity in international trade and logistics, which requires financial expertise in areas such as customs, tariffs, and international taxation.
Start-Up and Tech Scene: The growing tech sector, sometimes referred to as Silicon Beach, includes startups and established tech companies that need CPAs for financial management, venture capital funding, and compliance.
Real Estate Market: LA’s dynamic real estate market provides opportunities for CPAs in property management, real estate development, and investment.
Diverse Economy: Beyond entertainment and technology, LA’s economy includes manufacturing, healthcare, professional services, and tourism, offering CPAs a wide range of sectors to work in.
Large Market for Professional Services: The size and scale of Los Angeles mean there’s a significant market for professional services, including accounting, tax preparation, and financial consulting.
Big Four and Beyond: All of the Big Four accounting firms have a major presence in LA, along with numerous mid-size and local firms, giving CPAs a variety of work environments to choose from.
Cultural and Recreational Opportunities: Los Angeles provides a unique lifestyle with its diverse cultural communities, entertainment options, dining, beaches, and outdoor activities, which can be particularly attractive for professionals.
Networking Opportunities: LA hosts numerous professional and industry events, providing CPAs with ample networking opportunities to build relationships and develop new business.
Higher Salaries: To compensate for the higher cost of living, salaries for professional positions like CPAs are often higher in Los Angeles compared to many other cities.
Continuing Education: The city has many esteemed universities and educational institutions that offer continuing education courses for CPAs to maintain their licensure and stay current with industry changes.
Los Angeles, with its vast economy and unique industries, can offer CPAs a dynamic career with the added benefit of a warm climate and a rich tapestry of cultural experiences. However, it’s worth noting that the cost of living is high, and traffic congestion is a well-known challenge for residents. Despite these factors, many professionals find LA’s unique advantages make it a rewarding place to live and work.
Dallas Accountant Stats
- Average Salary: $70,000
- Job Availability: High; steady economic growth and no state income tax.
- Cost of Living: Moderate; affordable housing and living costs.
Dallas, Texas, offers numerous advantages that make it an appealing location for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) to live and work:
Business-Friendly Environment: Texas is known for its business-friendly climate, with no state income tax, which attracts individuals and companies alike. This environment supports business growth and, consequently, the demand for accounting services.
Diverse Economy: Dallas has a diverse economy with strong sectors including technology, healthcare, defense, financial services, and telecommunications. This diversity creates a stable environment for CPAs with a variety of interests and specializations.
Corporate Presence: Many Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, offering CPAs opportunities in corporate accounting, internal auditing, financial analysis, and tax planning.
Public Accounting Firms: Dallas is home to several large accounting firms, including the Big Four, as well as a multitude of mid-size and smaller firms, which provide a range of career options for CPAs.
Growing Economy: The region is experiencing significant growth, which translates to more businesses and start-ups in need of financial expertise, from basic accounting services to complex financial consulting.
Central Location: Dallas’s central location and its international airport facilitate easy travel for CPAs who may need to visit clients or attend conferences throughout the country.
Affordable Cost of Living: Compared to other major metropolitan areas like New York City or Los Angeles, Dallas offers a relatively affordable cost of living, which includes housing, utilities, and transportation.
Quality of Life: Dallas provides a high quality of life with diverse neighborhoods, cultural amenities, excellent dining, shopping, and recreational activities, making it an attractive place for professionals and their families.
Professional Networks: There are numerous professional organizations, such as the Dallas CPA Society, which offer CPAs opportunities for networking, professional development, and continuing education.
Educational Opportunities: The area boasts several universities and colleges offering accounting programs and opportunities for continuing education to help CPAs meet their licensing requirements and stay current in their field.
Regulatory Environment: Texas’s regulatory environment can be less complex compared to other states, making it easier for businesses to operate and for CPAs to navigate the legal and financial landscape.
Energy Sector: Dallas, being in the energy-rich state of Texas, also provides opportunities in the energy sector, which often requires specialized accounting knowledge related to oil, gas, and renewables.
For CPAs, Dallas combines the professional opportunities of a large city with the benefits of a business-friendly state and a high quality of life, making it an attractive option for career and personal growth.
Houston Accountant Stats
- Average Salary: $75,000
- Job Availability: High; especially in the energy sector.
- Cost of Living: Low; one of the most affordable major cities in the U.S.
Houston, Texas, is another attractive location for CPAs to build their careers, and it offers several unique advantages:
Energy Sector Dominance: Houston is widely regarded as the energy capital of the world, with a heavy concentration of oil and gas companies, which creates a high demand for CPAs with expertise in energy finance, international tax, and compliance issues related to the industry.
Port of Houston: The city is home to one of the busiest ports in the United States, which fosters significant activity in international trade and commerce. CPAs with expertise in customs, duty, and maritime commerce find opportunities here.
Healthcare and Biotech: The Texas Medical Center, located in Houston, is the world’s largest medical complex. This sector’s growth means there’s a need for CPAs specializing in healthcare accounting and finance.
Diverse Economy: Besides energy and healthcare, Houston’s economy includes manufacturing, aeronautics, and technology. This diversity allows CPAs to work across various sectors.
Corporate Headquarters: Many Fortune 500 companies have headquarters or significant operations in Houston, offering numerous opportunities for internal corporate finance roles, including internal auditing, financial planning, and treasury management.
Professional Services Firms: Like Dallas, Houston hosts offices for the Big Four accounting firms and a wide range of mid-sized and smaller firms, providing a variety of environments in which CPAs can work.
No State Income Tax: Texas has no state income tax, which is financially beneficial for individuals and attracts businesses to the area, contributing to economic growth and the demand for accounting services.
Affordable Cost of Living: Houston’s cost of living is relatively low compared to other major metropolitan areas, especially when it comes to housing costs, which stretches the earning power of CPAs.
Cultural Diversity: Houston is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the U.S., which is reflected in its communities, cultural institutions, and culinary scene, making it an interesting place to live.
Educational Opportunities: Houston has numerous colleges and universities that offer robust accounting programs and professional development courses, which can aid CPAs in meeting their continuing education requirements.
Networking and Community: There is a strong sense of community among professionals in Houston, with various networking groups, professional associations, and industry conferences that provide CPAs with opportunities to connect and grow professionally.
Quality of Life: Houston offers a high quality of life with its affordability, cultural amenities, recreational opportunities, and generally mild winters, which is appealing for those seeking a balanced lifestyle.
For CPAs, Houston’s strong job market, the presence of high-growth industries, and a favorable tax environment make it a compelling choice for career advancement while enjoying a reasonable cost of living and a diverse community.
Atlanta Accountant Stats
- Average Salary: $70,000
- Job Availability: High; diverse industries from media to healthcare.
- Cost of Living: Moderate; affordable housing options available.
Atlanta’s southern charm and booming economy make it an enticing option for accounting professionals.
Washington, DC Accountant Stats
- Average Salary: $80,000
- Job Availability: High; government and non-profit sectors provide stability.
- Cost of Living: High; but the unique professional opportunities make up for it.
The nation’s capital offers a prestigious landscape for accountants to build a robust career.
Boston Accountant Stats
- Average Salary: $75,000
- Job Availability: High; strong education and healthcare sectors.
- Cost of Living: High; however, the city’s intellectual vibe and historic charm are unparalleled.
Boston provides a steady ground for accountants, coupled with a rich cultural experience.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco Accountant Stats
- Average Salary: $85,000
- Job Availability: High; tech boom has created a surge in accounting roles.
- Cost of Living: Very high; salaries are adjusted accordingly, but it’s still a pricey city.
San Francisco’s innovation-driven economy offers accountants a chance to delve into exciting new sectors.
Seattle Accountant Stats
- Average Salary: $75,000
- Job Availability: High; presence of tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft.
- Cost of Living: High; but the city’s commitment to quality of life makes it a popular choice.
Seattle’s tech-driven market and stunning natural scenery offer a unique lifestyle for accountants.
Minneapolis Accountant Stats
- Average Salary: $70,000
- Job Availability: High; diverse corporations and a stable economy.
- Cost of Living: Moderate; affordable living with a focus on work-life balance.
Minneapolis is a hidden gem, providing stability and a high quality of life for accountants.
Deciding on a city to pursue your accounting career is a personal choice, influenced by your career goals, lifestyle preferences, and financial considerations. Each of the cities listed above has its unique advantages and opportunities, making them stand out as top choices for accountants.
Evaluate what matters most to you, research thoroughly, and you’ll find the city that best aligns with your professional journey and personal aspirations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which city has the highest paying accounting jobs?
New York City and San Francisco tend to offer the highest salaries for accountants, reflecting the high cost of living and the presence of lucrative industries.
Where can I find a good work-life balance as an accountant?
Minneapolis is renowned for its emphasis on work-life balance, providing a supportive environment for professionals to thrive both at work and in their personal lives.
Which city is best for entry-level accountants?
Cities with a high job availability, such as Dallas or Atlanta, are great options for entry-level accountants, offering numerous positions and a supportive professional community.
Is it worth moving to a city with a high cost of living for an accounting job?
It can be, especially if the salary adjustments reflect the cost of living and if the city offers unique professional opportunities that align with your career goals.