Introduction

Tennessee is home to the country music capital of the world as well as the headquarters of ten Fortune 500 companies. In terms of GDP, the state is the 32nd largest economy in the nation.The Tennessee economy is among the most diverse in the county, with well over 80,000 farms and manufacturers that run the gamut from producing automobiles to semiconductors. The Volunteer State’s central location makes it an ideal hub for commerce and transportation; it comes as no surprise that Fed-Ex calls the state home.

Over 21,500 accountants and auditors work in the public and private sectors of this state economy. All of the Big Four International CPA firms (Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Deloitte & Touche, KPMG, and Ernst & Young) maintain offices in Tennessee.

The top five accounting firms in the state keep more than 800 CPAs busy year-round. The state’s largest firm Lattimore, Black, Morgan & Cain employs more than 240 professionals and earns more than $70 million in total revenue each year.

Tennessee at a glance

Population 6,549,352
Per Capita Income $37,678
Unemployment Rate 6.3%
Fortune 500 Companies 10
Licensed CPA Firms 797

Accounting Programs in Tennessee

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

Accounting Salaries and Employment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects well-above-average job growth for accountants and auditors in Tennessee through 2022. The agency expects Tennessee’s legion of accountants and auditors to swell by 5,000 positions over a ten year period, a whopping 23% increase in positions statewide. While the average annual salaries of accountants and auditors in this state is about $7,000 lower than the national average for the industry, these professionals still outearn the average worker in the state by more than $25,000 per year.

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

21,500 Employees2012
26,440 Employees2022
Tennessee 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

Tennessee Avg. Annual Wage United States Avg. Annual Wage

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

\ $35,430
$37,250

Payroll Clerks

\ $37,760
$39,850

Credit Counselors

\ $41,290
$44,960

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

\ $59,950
$63,660

Tax Examiners and Collectors

\ $52,070
$56,120

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

\ $65,630
$72,500

Budget Analysts

\ $68,400
$72,560

Personal Financial Advisors

\ $103,630
$99,920

Actuaries

\ $107,740
$107,740

Financial Managers

\ $101,460
$126,660
Source: BLS OES

Top-paying cities for accountants

  1. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN
    $68,760
  2. Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA
    $64,640
  3. Morristown, TN
    $64,080
  4. Johnson City, TN
    $62,880
  5. Knoxville, TN
    $62,860
Source: OES Data Tool

Major firms headquartered in Tennessee

Count Firm Location 2014 Revenue (in millions)
1Lattimore, Black, Morgan & CainBrentwood, TN$70
2Joseph Decosimo & Co.Chattanooga, TN$38

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 Tennessee

CPAs must put in a considerable amount of work in the industry before coming fully licensed in Tennessee — each candidate completes a minimum of 2,000 hours working under a licensed CPA who can formally attest to the state board that the work was relevant to accountancy. This professional experience must also occur within 10 years of the application for licensure.

In addition passing the Uniform CPA Exam and meeting experience requirements, Tennessee CPA candidates must also pass the AICPA’s Ethics Exam with a score of 90% or better.

Tennessee’s Interstate License Exchange allows CPAs who wish to relocate to the state to apply for a reciprocal license provided they meet the following criteria:

  • Currently have a valid CPA license in another state
  • Meet the 150 credit hour education requirement
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Have at least one year of experience in accounting (subject to board approval)

Eligibility for CPA Licensure in Tennessee

CPAs in Tennessee must meet national standards set by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and the AICPA. Primarily, this includes passing all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam.

The major qualification to sit for this exam includes the completion of a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 150 credit hours of post-secondary education that includes at least 30 hours of accounting course credit and 24 hours of business course credit. Many candidates find it necessary to complete a master’s degree in order to meet these requirements.

If a candidate fails some sections of the Uniform CPA Exam, Tennessee allows re-examination of one or more sections within 18 months of the date of initial testing. Those applying to retake sections of the exam are subject to the following fees:

  • 1 section – $75
  • 2 sections – $100
  • 3 sections – $125
  • 4 sections – $150
Age RequirementNone
Citizenship RequirementNo
Residency RequirementNo
Social Security # RequirementYes
Education Requirement for Licensure150 hours (including bachelor's degree)
Participates in International ProgramsYes
Hours in Accounting30 semester or equivalent quarter hours of accounting education including the elementary level. Not more than 3 semester hours may be internship programs which may be applied to the 30 hours in accounting. Candidates must have at least 24 semester hours of accounting courses at the upper division level, junior level courses or higher.
Exam Sitting RequirementsMust be within 200 days of completing education requirement
Experience Requirements1 year experience gained through employment in industry, government, academia or public practice. 2 years experience for CPAs providing attest services.
Ethics ExamMust pass AICPA Professional Ethics Exam for initial licensure

The rules and regulations established by the legislature and governed by the State Board of Accountancy.

Source: The American Institute of CPAs

CPA exam fees in Tennessee

Total:N/A
  • Application Fee N/A
  • Auditing & Attestation N/A
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting N/A
  • Regulation N/A
  • Business Environment & Concepts N/A

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 Tennessee State Board of Accountancy is overseen by the Department of Commerce and Insurance and is responsible for licensing certified public accountants and ensuring that all licensed accounting firms and professionals meet the standards laid out by the NASBA.

The Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA) is a voluntary professional membership organization that seeks to support its members and the greater community of financial service professionals throughout the state by providing networking opportunities, continuing education resources and public advocacy.

Tennessee Board of Accountancy

Address

500 James Robertson Pkwy
Nashville, TN 37243

Phone Number

(615) 271-2550

Email

accountancy.board@tn.gov

Tennessee CPA Education Foundation

Address

201 Powell Place
Brentwood, TN 37027

Email

tscpa@tscpa.com

Tennessee Society of CPAs

Address

500 James Robertson Pkwy
Nashville, TN 37243

Phone Number

(615)-271-2550