Accounting Degrees in Illinois
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
|Per Capita Income||$44,815|
|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.
- Degree Levels
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
Accounting Salaries by Specialty
Associate Degree Recommended
Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks
Bachelor's Degree Recommended
Tax Examiners and Collectors
Master's Degree Recommended
Accountants and Auditors
Personal Financial Advisors
Top-paying cities for accountants
- Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI$83,310
- Peoria, IL$74,880
- Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI$74,620
- Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL$74,270
- Decatur, IL$67,290
Major firms headquartered in Illinois
|Count||Firm||Location||2014 Revenue (in millions)|
|1||Baker Tilly Virchow Krause||Chicago, IL||$301|
|3||Wolf & Co.||Oakbrook Terrace, IL||$23|
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.
|Social Security # Requirement||Optional|
|Education Requirement for Licensure||150 hours (including bachelor's degree)|
|Hours in Accounting||24 credits of accounting coursework and 24 credits of business coursework that includes courses in financial accounting, auditing, taxation and management accounting.|
|Exam Sitting Requirements||150 hours (must complete education requirement prior to sitting for exam)|
|Experience Requirements||1 year general experience in government, industry academia or public practice.|
|Ethics Exam||Must pass AICPA Professional Ethics Exam for initial licensure|
Source: The American Institute of CPAs
CPA exam fees in Illinois
- 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
|Rank||Logo||School Name||Candidates||Pass Rate||Average Score|
|2||Olivet Nazarene University||12||62.1%||76.6|
|3||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||791||59.4%||75.1|
|4||North Central College||36||59.4%||75.6|
|5||University of Chicago||39||59.1%||74.1|
|6||Northern Illinois University||294||56.2%||74.7|
|8||Illinois State University||206||55.3%||73.9|
|9||Trinity Christian College||13||54.3%||73|
|11||Loyola University of Chicago||192||52.2%||72.4|
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
100 Trade Centre Drive; Suite 403
Champaign, IL 61820
Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation
320 W. Washington St. 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62786