Introduction

Illinois is home to many of the nation’s largest companies, including McDonald’s, American Airlines, Boeing and Motorola, in addition to a number of financial institutions such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Industrial products and crops are also large contributors to the state’s wealth. All told, Illinois ranks fifth in the nation in terms of gross state product.

Approximately 50,000 accounting specialists are licensed in the state and work in diverse capacities for the public and private sectors that make up this massive state economy.

Jobseeking accountants have dozens of major firms to choose from in Illinois. All of the four major international CPA firms have offices located throughout the state (Deloitte & Touche, KPMG, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Ernst & Young), not to mention Wolf & Co., which has joined BKD, the 12th largest accounting and advisory firm in the nation. Sikich, one of the top four accounting firms in the state, employs more than 600 individuals alone.

Illinois at a glance

Population 12,880,580
Per Capita Income $44,815
Unemployment Rate 6%
Fortune 500 Companies 33
Licensed CPA Firms 2,550

Accounting Programs in Illinois

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

Accounting Salaries and Employment

Employment for accountants and auditors in Illinois is expected to increase by 11.7% in the next seven years, resulting in nearly 54,000 individuals out of Illinois’ 12.88 million people working as accountants. The average annual wage in Illinois for accountants is higher than the national average in most instances, ranging from $38,740 to $99,460.

Profitable cities for accountants in Illinois include Peoria, the Kenosha and Lake Counties, Decatur and Chicago. Chicago happens to be home to two of the larger firms in the state, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, which made $301.30 million in revenue for 2014, and ORBA, which generated $21.80 million.

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

48,010 Employees2012
53,620 Employees2022
Illinois 10.5% increase
1,275,400 Employees2012
1,442,200 Employees2022
United States 11.6% increase
Source: U.S. Department of Labor

Accounting Salaries by Specialty

Illinois Avg. Annual Wage United States Avg. Annual Wage

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

\ $38,740
$37,250

Payroll Clerks

\ $43,240
$39,850

Credit Counselors

\ $50,630
$44,960

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

\ $66,960
$63,660

Tax Examiners and Collectors

\ $75,070
$56,120

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

\ $73,390
$72,500

Budget Analysts

\ $75,440
$72,560

Personal Financial Advisors

\ $98,640
$99,920

Actuaries

\ $99,460
$107,740

Financial Managers

\ $104,660
$126,660
Source: BLS OES

Top-paying cities for accountants

  1. Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI
    $83,310
  2. Peoria, IL
    $74,880
  3. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI
    $74,620
  4. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL
    $74,270
  5. Decatur, IL
    $67,290
Source: OES Data Tool

Major firms headquartered in Illinois

Count Firm Location 2014 Revenue (in millions)
1Baker Tilly Virchow KrauseChicago, IL$301
2SikichNaperville, IL$97
3Wolf & Co.Oakbrook Terrace, IL$23
4ORBAChicago, IL$21

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 Illinois

The Uniform CPA Exam for the state of Illinois is administered by the Illinois Board of Examiners. Anyone who has passed this exam in another state or jurisdiction, but is not eligible to receive certification, in that state may transfer their exam credit as long as they meet Illinois’ own educational and ethics requirements.

Reciprocity certification is also available for those individuals who hold an equivalent, valid license or certificate by directly applying to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Eligibility for CPA Licensure in Illinois

Individuals can obtain Illinois CPA certification by sitting for and passing the Uniform CPA Exam. Potential candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • Fulfill the ethics requirements by taking and pass the Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course
  • Meet the educational requirements (150 credit hours) and have their academic credentials evaluated and approved by the Illinois Board of Examiners before taking the exam
  • All four sections of the exam must be passed with a score of 75 or higher

Candidates do not need a graduate degree in order to qualify to sit for the CPA exam in Illinois. However, first-time exam candidates must have completed at least 150 credit hours of acceptable coursework, which includes a baccalaureate degree or higher. Acceptable credit hours must include the equivalent of a concentration in accounting.

Age Requirement18
Citizenship RequirementNo
Residency RequirementNo
Social Security # RequirementOptional
Education Requirement for Licensure150 hours (including bachelor's degree)
International ProgramsYes
Hours in Accounting24 credits of accounting coursework and 24 credits of business coursework that includes courses in financial accounting, auditing, taxation and management accounting.
Exam Sitting Requirements150 hours (must complete education requirement prior to sitting for exam)
Experience Requirements1 year general experience in government, industry academia or public practice.
Ethics ExamMust pass AICPA Professional Ethics Exam for initial licensure

Source: The American Institute of CPAs

CPA exam fees in Illinois

Total:$659
  • Application Fee $120
  • Auditing & Attestation $192
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting $1
  • Regulation $173
  • Business Environment & Concepts $173

Special Fees: First time candidates must put forward an academic credential evaluation fee to ensure their transcripts meet the educational requirements to sit for the exam. The domestic credential evaluation fee is $175; the foreign or foreign and domestic credential evaluation fee is $250.

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 Illinois Board of Examiners is the body that approves CPA certification, but not the license to practice. Licenses, and requirements for continuing professional education, are done by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which regulates the majority of professional and financial institutions in the state. Conversely, the Illinois CPA Society provides consumers with the ability to search for a CPA and provides CPAs a networking base to promote employment opportunities.

Illinois Board of Examiners

Address

100 Trade Centre Drive; Suite 403
Champaign, IL 61820

Phone Number

(217) 531-0950

Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation

Address

320 W. Washington St. 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62786

Phone Number

(217) 785-0820

Illinois CPA Society

Address

550 W. Jackson; Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60661

Phone Number

(800) 993-0407 ext. 216

Email

davidn@icpas.org