Written by Holland Webb


With diverse topography, a warm climate, and a growing economy, South Carolina offers young professionals a bright future. Financial professionals can find excellent employment opportunities in South Carolina due to the state's fast-growing manufacturing, automotive, and aerospace industries.

As South Carolina adds more corporate headquarters, the number of accounting jobs is projected to increase 11.9% from 2018 to 2028, almost twice the projected national growth. Accountants, auditors, budget analysts, and personal financial advisors can expect their career fields to grow at an especially fast clip.

Thanks to the state's 77 colleges and universities, prospective students can find both on-campus and online degrees in accounting throughout South Carolina. The information below provides a brief overview of what South Carolina can offer accountants, state requirements for becoming an accountant, and the best career paths for future accounting professionals.

South Carolina at a Glance

Population 5,210,100
Per Capita Income $28,957
Fortune 500 Companies 3
Number of Higher Learning Institutions 77
Climate

Average Annual Temperature: 62.4 ℉

Annual Precipitation: 49.8 inches

Major Sports Teams Carolina Bobcats, Carolina Hurricanes, and Carolina Panthers represent both North and South Carolina
Accountants in South Carolina 15,980

Top South Carolina Schools for Accounting

  • Citadel Military College of South Carolina
  • Wofford College
  • Furman University
  • Clemson University
  • Presbyterian College
  • College of Charleston
  • Anderson University
  • Columbia College
  • Charleston Southern University
  • North Greenville University

Why Go to College for Accounting in South Carolina?

South Carolina's warm climate, diverse geography, and strong economy help draw more than 230,000 students to the state's higher education programs, according to the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education.

Accounting students can study at the state's many small liberal arts colleges or at top research universities. Many higher education institutions offer online education programs that allow students to learn from any location at any time. However, some programs are entirely in-person or have some on-campus requirements. Prospective students looking at on-campus programs may benefit from internship and networking opportunities.

The state's two largest universities, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina (USC), provide diverse experiences for students. Clemson is in a small town about an hour from Greenville, while USC is in Columbia, the state's capital city.

On-campus or online, South Carolina's public colleges and universities offer tuition benefits to in-state residents, making hometown education more attractive. Once an accounting student has graduated from college, they can seek employment with firms in areas throughout the state.

Education Statistics for South Carolina

South Carolina's more than five million residents can earn their degrees at one of the state's 77 two- or four-year colleges, and nearly a third of enrolled students take advantage of online learning options.

The Palmetto State offers significant public support to its colleges and universities, helping keep prices low. This may help explain why a higher percentage of South Carolinians hold associate degrees than the U.S. average.

Higher Education Statistics in South Carolina
South Carolina Data National Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges 48 3,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges 29 1,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education 33% 34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student $6,465 $8,196
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 6.4% 5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree 9.6% 8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree 17.4% 19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher 10.1% 12.1%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau - American Community Survey

Accreditation for South Carolina Schools

In the U.S., accreditation refers to a voluntary process by which a college or university demonstrates its commitment to academic excellence and organizational strength. Accreditation comes in several varieties.

Regional accreditation, considered the gold standard, applies to nonprofit educational institutions such as research universities and liberal arts colleges. National accreditation goes mostly to career-focused institutions. When choosing an online school in South Carolina, prospective students should look for accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Approval from this regional accrediting body gives credibility to a school, makes its degrees more useful, and qualifies students to apply for federal aid.

Future accounting majors may want to pursue a degree from a school that holds programmatic accreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or another business-focused accrediting agency.

Considerations for an Accounting Degree in South Carolina

With so many options, choosing a college program is a difficult task. Prospective students should consider costs, program outcomes, location, and program length as part of the college selection process.

The data below can help future learners determine if South Carolina is the right state for them to start searching for online accounting programs. This section contains information on degree levels, concentrations, tuition, and career options. Prospective students can contrast in-state and out-of-state tuition costs with South Carolina's cost of living. They can also see what regional academic opportunities South Carolina residents enjoy.

Accounting Degree Levels

Online accounting degrees in South Carolina run the full gamut, from the two-year associate program to the Ph.D. in accounting. Many low-cost community colleges offer associate degrees, while the Ph.D. typically falls under the purview of research universities.

An associate degree in accounting can lead to careers as a tax preparer, payroll clerk, or bookkeeper. Earning a bachelor's degree can open up entry-level positions as a staff accountant or financial manager. Becoming a CPA, however, usually requires a master's degree, which can also lead to a career as an auditor or even a Chief Financial Officer. People pursuing a Ph.D. in accounting typically move into teaching or research roles.

Accounting Concentration Options

As a sub-discipline of business, accounting degrees offer many available concentrations, including financial management, nonprofit administration, forensic accounting, and taxation.

The state's proximity to Charlotte's banking scene, along with its robust manufacturing economy and power systems development are creating opportunities for technologically savvy accountants. Students planning to remain in South Carolina after graduation may choose to concentrate on information systems or financial accounting to maximize their career potential.

Accounting Concentrations

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

Distance learning options allow nontraditional students to earn a degree without relocating or taking all their coursework in a classroom. Many distance learners pursue their education while managing family, work, and other responsibilities.

On-Campus

Many students enjoy the opportunity to make new friends, engage in on-campus activities, and learn about accounting in the face-to-face setting of a traditional campus. On-campus programs offer students a chance to devote themselves to learning, and can provide networking and cocurricular activities that highlight a resume.

Online Programs

Nontraditional students with work or family responsibilities often turn to online educational programs. These educational experiences require little or no time on campus. Online programs are often very flexible, allowing students to complete work when it's convenient for them.

Online programs typically require the same coursework and employ the same faculty as their on-campus counterparts. Students often choose to learn online to save money or to take advantage of individualized learning options.

Hybrid Programs

A hybrid program combines the flexibility of an online learning program with some of the benefits of face-to-face learning. In a typical hybrid program, students take the majority of their coursework online, supplemented with long weekends or 1- to 2-week intensive courses on campus. Students with flexible schedules can often make hybrid programs work well for them.
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education
Enrolled Exclusively in Distance Education Courses Enrolled in Some but Not All Distance Education Courses Not Enrolled in Any Distance Education Courses
South Carolina Students 10.7% 22.3% 67%
United States Students 16.3% 18.4% 65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

Higher education can prove costly, but there are a number of financing options to help students pay for an accounting degree in South Carolina. While some people cover the cost of education themselves, the vast majority seek support from public and private sources.

For example, prospective students can apply for federal grants to help cover associate or bachelor's degrees, and for private scholarships for any level of education. South Carolina even offers tuition assistance for qualifying graduates of in-state high schools. These options include the HOPE Scholarship and South Carolina Need-Based Grant. Many students also take advantage of private grants and low-cost loans.

Average Cost of College Tuition and Fees in South Carolina, 2017-2018
South Carolina National
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year) $12,579 $9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year) $30,919 $25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year) $24,931 $30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year) $4,502 $3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year) $9,480 $7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Although schools in South Carolina charge a higher tuition than the national average, the state offers several programs to make out-of-state education affordable. Public colleges and universities in South Carolina also cooperate with other schools throughout the region to extend tuition savings to out-of-state students. For instance, South Carolina participates in the Southern Regional Education Board's (SREB) academic common market, a 15-state consortium that allows out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition when attending a participating institution.

Institutions and states may impose admission requirements such as minimum GPA scores, so prospective SREB students should contact their state's academic common market coordinator. In addition to SREB, South Carolina participates in the South Carolina State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, which governs interstate distance education reciprocity.

South Carolina's Cost of Living

Tuition is just one cost factor to consider when investigating educational expenses. A state's cost of living, including gas prices, rent, and food costs, will also impact a student's budget. According to the World Population Review, South Carolina's cost index stands at 95.9, a figure below the 100 index, which represents the U.S. average cost of living.

Other School Selection Criteria

Besides cost and location, prospective students should consider other key factors when selecting a school. While some of these factors depend individual needs and opportunities, they may include the following:

School Size

A small school can offer one-on-one, personal attention from faculty and staff while a larger institution can provide a well-regarded brand and an extensive alumni network.

Staff Credentials/Diversity

What percentage of the faculty hold a doctorate? Does the school's staff include diversity of race, age, gender, and physical ability? How important are those criteria to you?

Program Length

Students eager to plunge into the workforce may appreciate an accelerated program.

University Resources/Career Services

It takes more than a degree to get a job. What help does the university provide for students who are bridging the gap between school and work?

Prestige/Reputation

What kind of opportunities can the school's name recognition afford its graduates?

Earning Potential for Graduates

What's the average salary for recent accounting graduates from this school?

Alumni Network

How organized and active is the school's alumni network? What about for the business or accounting department?

Required Admission Materials/Test Scores

Does the school expect a minimum GPA, years of experience, or a score from the GMAT for admission?

Careers for Accounting Graduates in South Carolina

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the U.S. economy will add 90,700 accountant and auditor jobs from 2018 to 2028. To aid its flourishing automotive, manufacturing, aerospace, and agribusiness industries, South Carolina is adding new corporate headquarters in cities across the state. These headquarters will need new auditors, accountants, and financial managers to keep their companies on track financially, making up part of the 90,700 predicted accounting jobs that will appear in the coming years. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, South Carolina's unemployment rate stood at just 2.5%.

Select Accounting Careers in South Carolina

Accountants and Auditors

A bachelor's degree in accounting can open the door to a career as a staff accountant, tax accountant, or auditor. Most people who want to grow in these professions earn a master's degree. This allows them to pursue CPA designation, which allows accountants to take leadership roles in their field.

Job Outlook in South Carolina: +11.9%

Learn More
Budget Analysts

These professionals review an organization's budget to determine how money is spent, and what actions might improve the return on expenses. Budget analysts usually hold at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related discipline, and can work for industries across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.

Job Outlook in South Carolina: +9.7%

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Personal Financial Advisors

Sometimes called financial planners, personal financial advisors help clients make decisions regarding savings, investments, and retirement. In general, financial advisors must hold significant formal education since they work in a highly regulated field. South Carolina's growing population of retirees are contributing to this field's rapid growth.

Job Outlook in South Carolina: +21.5%

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South Carolina Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

17,350 Employees2018
19,420 Employees2028
South Carolina 11.9% increase
1,424,000 Employees2018
1,514,700 Employees2028
National 6.4% increase

Source: Projections Central

Explore more careers here

Students who plan to remain in South Carolina after graduation may want to embark on careers in personal financial planning or financial management. South Carolina's economy offers a friendly environment for both of these well-paying professions. In addition, the state's average income for these roles stands close to the national average, meaning in a state with a low cost of living, their real value is considerably higher than the median.

These professions, however, often require a master's degree. South Carolina accountants with a bachelor's degree can find work as cost estimators. Those with an associate degree may want to consider upgrading their education to pursue careers with higher salaries.

South Carolina Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

No matter where you live, becoming a CPA is a long, rigorous journey. That said, each state determines its own requirements for earning CPA designation. In South Carolina, becoming a CPA requires:

  • The applicant must be at least 18 years old.
  • They do not have to hold U.S. citizenship or South Carolina residency, but do need a Social Security number.
  • An applicant needs 150 credit hours, which usually equals a bachelor's degree and a master's degree.
  • Those credit hours must include 36 semester hours in accounting courses that cover auditing, taxation, financial accounting, and managerial accounting.
  • At least 24 of those 36 hours must hold junior-level or higher status.
  • Applicants also need 36 semester hours of business courses and may not use non-traditional credits, such as life experience, to count for these required courses.
  • Applicants need at least one year of accounting experience in the U.S.
  • Finally, applicants must pass an ethics exam.

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Is accounting a good career in South Carolina?
Yes, South Carolina boasts a robust economy, a low cost of living, and a growing number of corporate headquarters. In the next few years, the state should add many new accounting and financial management positions.
How much do accountants earn in South Carolina?
Depending on their level of education and specific career track, accountants can earn as little as $35,000 or as much as $125,000 per year. More education typically equals higher salaries in this field.
What accounting jobs are there in South Carolina?
South Carolina's economy includes a strong manufacturing sector, an emerging aerospace and automotive industry, and a growing life sciences sector. Each of these sectors requires accountants, budget analysts, and financial advisors to help manage growth.
Can I get an accounting degree in South Carolina?
Many of South Carolina's 77 colleges and universities offer accounting and other business-related degrees. The state's research universities and larger liberal arts colleges may also offer master's degrees and doctorates in the discipline.
Does South Carolina have online accounting programs?
Students can pursue online accounting degrees in South Carolina through one of several traditional universities based in the state. South Carolina residents may also earn a degree through a program headquartered in another part of the country.

South Carolina Accounting and Education Organizations

  • South Carolina Board of Accountancy Part of the Department of Labor Licensing Regulation, the Board of Accountancy manages CPA licensure for the state. The board's website offers information on applications, certification renewals, continuing education facts, complaints, and ethics.
  • South Carolina Society of Accountants A nonprofit organization in Columbia, SCSA serves as a professional association for the state's accountants. Members can take advantage of continuing education opportunities, along with the chance to grow their professional network.
  • South Carolina Association of CPAs With nearly 5,000 members in eight chapters, SCACPA serves as the primary professional membership organization for South Carolina's CPAs. Members can earn CPE hours, connect with other professionals, and attend accounting conferences.
  • South Carolina Department of Revenue SCDOR's website contains information pertinent to tax professionals, including laws, policies, filing, compliance, and collection. The site also contains tax information for businesses and individuals along with copies of forms and policies.

Accounting Programs in South Carolina

The list below provides detailed information and links to the best accounting schools in South Carolina. Each school holds regional accreditation, and we update the list annually. Whether you are looking for an associate program, a bachelor's degree, or a graduate degree, this resource can provide you with a great place to start your search.