Introduction

Arizona has the 21st largest economy in in the United States. While once considered primarily a retirement destination, the state is rapidly becoming a high tech development and manufacturing hub. Five fortune 500 companies are headquartered here.

Arizona is home to more than 19,000 CPAs employed in both the public and private sectors. The state’s recent economic growth has been primarily concentrated in high tech fields of aerospace, technology and bioscience. The ten largest accounting firms in Arizona include all of the “Big Four” international accounting firms; KPMG, Ernst & Young, Price Waterhouse and Deloitte & Touche. This bustling financial services sector is rounded out with several sizable state and regional firms including BeachFleisman and Henry & Home who each reported earnings of over $18 million in 2014.

Arizona at a glance

Population 6,731,484
Per Capita Income $34,723
Unemployment Rate 6.2%
Fortune 500 Companies 5
Licensed CPA Firms 1,018

Accounting Programs in Arizona

Search our comprehensive school directory to explore the accounting programs in Arizona, including campus-based, online and hybrid programs.

Accounting Salaries and Employment

The average annual salary for Arizona CPAs is $69,000 which is somewhat below the national average of $74,000. Nearly 37% of Arizona CPAs are employed by accounting and tax firms; 11% work specifically in the investment and financial industry. The remaining majority of accountants work in diverse public and private sectors requiring their own in-house financial experts.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that through 2022 the demand for CPAs in Arizona will outpace the national average by nearly double. The BLS anticipates an increase in 4,500 positions and an even greater demand for replacements due to attrition.

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

19,740 Employees2012
24,270 Employees2022
Arizona 18.7% increase
1,275,400 Employees2012
1,442,200 Employees2022
United States 11.6% increase
Source: U.S. Department of Labor

Accounting Salaries by Specialty

Arizona Avg. Annual Wage United States Avg. Annual Wage

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

\ $36,690
$37,250

Payroll Clerks

\ $36,980
$39,850

Credit Counselors

\ $43,130
$44,960

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

\ $64,360
$63,660

Tax Examiners and Collectors

\ $60,920
$56,120

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

\ $64,440
$72,500

Budget Analysts

\ $68,800
$72,560

Personal Financial Advisors

\ $77,020
$99,920

Actuaries

\ $103,460
$107,740

Financial Managers

\ $113,350
$126,660
Source: BLS OES

Top-paying cities for accountants

  1. Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale
    $66,400
  2. Yuma
    $59,250
  3. Tucson
    $57,220
  4. Prescott
    $54,750
  5. Lake Havasu City-Kingman
    $52,420
Source: OES Data Tool

Major firms headquartered in Arizona

Count Firm Location 2014 Revenue (in millions)
1BeachFleischman*Tucson, AZ$20
2Henry & HorneTempe, AZ$18

Accounting Today named these firms among the highest performing in a multi-state region. Rankings as based upon reported net revenues from 2014. Source: Accounting today "Top 100 Firms"

Becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) in Arizona

In order to become a CPA in Arizona, individuals must meet all of the criteria established by the State Board of Accountancy. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age and have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher that includes no less than 150 course hours of study 36 of which must be completed in accounting coursework.

Candidates may sit for the four part CPA exam any time after completing their education requirements. Aside from passing all sections of the exam, candidates must complete at least 2,000 hours of paid or unpaid experience before or after passing the exam.

Before a license is issued applicants must also have passed a professional ethics exam with a score of 90% or better within two years of seeking certification. The State Board of Accountancy issues reciprocal certificates to license holders from states that are considered substantially equivalent.

Age Requirement18
Citizenship RequirementNo
Residency RequirementNo
Social Security # RequirementYes
Education Requirement for Licensure150 hours (including bachelor's degree)
Participates in International ProgramsYes
Hours in Accounting36 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours in accounting (30 hours must be in upper-level)
Exam Sitting RequirementsB.A. (120 hours)
Experience Requirements1-year general requirement in private industry or government agency. Volunteer or intern work counts as long as it meets the definition of experience and was performed under a qualified person in the accounting field.
Ethics ExamMust pass AICPA Professional Ethics Exam for initial licensure

Source: The American Institute of CPAs

CPA exam fees in Arizona

Total:$822
  • Application Fee $100
  • Auditing & Attestation $190
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting $190
  • Regulation $171
  • Business Environment & Concepts $171

Candidates have a total of 18 months to pass all sections of the exam after their initial attempt. Candidates may reapply to retake a section of the exam only after their previous attempt has been scored. A $50 application fee is required each time applicants sit for one or more sections of the exam.

Source: Arizona Board of Accountancy

Schools Ranked by CPA Pass Rates, 2014

RankLogoSchool NameCandidatesPass RateAverage Score

Schools are ranked by pass rate unless otherwise noted. Results are comprised of scores from both first-time test takers and those returning to take the whole exam or specific sections of it again. Source: National State Boards of Accountancy

Certifying and Professional Organizations

The Arizona State Board of Accountancy is the agency responsible for the certification and licensing CPA throughout the state.

The Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants, ASCPA. is a professional membership organization representing more than 6,000 CPAs across the state. It is the largest association of CPAs in the state. The society has provided Arizona CPAs with leadership, representation and education opportunities for more than 75 years.

Arizona Board of Accountancy

Address

100 N. 15th Avenue, Suite 165
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Phone Number

(602) 364-0804

Arizona CPA Education Foundation

Address

4801 E. Washington St., Suite 225-B
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants

Address

4801 E. Washington St., Suite 225-B
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Phone Number

1-888-237-0700