Introduction

A major economic center of the South, Tennessee ranks as the 18th-largest economy in the country, with a GDP of $328.8 billion. The state’ is home to major sectors in manufacturing and agriculture, and some of Tennessee’s most important products include textiles, cotton, and electrical power. Eleven Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Tennessee, including major brands like FedEx, Dollar General, and AutoZone. The state’s bustling economy makes it a natural choice for finance professionals, and Tennessee employs more than 3,900 of them. Accounting jobs in Tennessee are expected to grow by an astonishing 24.7% by 2026, which puts the state among the fastest-growing in the country. All the “Big Four” accounting firms are found in Tennessee, and LBMC, one of the region’s largest finance firms, also maintains its headquarters in the state.

Tennessee at a glance

Population 6,715,984
Per Capita Income $24,922
Unemployment Rate 3.6%
Fortune 500 Companies 9
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

18,300 Employees2012
23,190 Employees2022
Tennessee 21.1% increase
1,397,700 Employees2012
1,537,600 Employees2022
United States 9.1% increase
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Accounting Salaries by Specialty

Tennessee Avg. Annual Wage United States Avg. Annual Wage

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

\ $38,800
$41,110

Payroll Clerks

\ $42,510
$44,950

Credit Counselors

\ $49,260
$49,460

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

\ $63,440
$68,420

Tax Examiners and Collectors

\ $55,530
$59,140

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

\ $67,360
$77,920

Budget Analysts

\ $69,750
$77,170

Personal Financial Advisors

\ $97,650
$109,949

Financial Managers

\ $111,930
$143,530
Source: BLS OES - Industry Profile

Top-paying cities for accountants

  1. Morristown
    $90,580
  2. Knoxville
    $71,550
  3. Memphis
    $71,230
  4. South Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
    $69,890
  5. Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol
    $67,610
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Major firms headquartered in Tennessee

Count Firm Location 2014 Revenue (in millions)
1Lattimore, Black, Morgan & CainBrentwood, TN$82

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 and Regional Leaders"

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 RequirementN/A
Citizenship RequirementNo
Residency RequirementNo
Social Security # RequirementYes
Education Requirement for LicensureBachelor's degree (150 hours)
Participates in International ProgramsYes
Hours in Accounting24 semester hours
Exam Sitting Requirements150 hours
Experience Requirements1 year of accounting experience
Ethics ExamAICPA Ethics Exam

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:$1,002
  • Application Fee $170
  • Auditing & Attestation $208
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting $208
  • Regulation $208
  • Business Environment & Concepts $208

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

[email protected]

Tennessee CPA Education Foundation

Address

201 Powell Place
Brentwood, TN 37027

Email

[email protected]

Tennessee Society of CPAs

Address

500 James Robertson Pkwy
Nashville, TN 37243

Phone Number

(615)-271-2550