Written by Reese Lopez


The second-largest U.S state, Texas boasts a thriving, diverse economy with a higher GDP than many foreign countries, including Canada, Russia, and South Korea. Home to the country's third-largest number of Fortune 500 companies, Texas has long served as one of the country's major business hubs, with no shortage of demand for accountants. The state is projected to add about 25,000 new accounting jobs from 2016-2026, a rate almost three times the national average.

Earning a master's in accounting in Texas is one of the best ways to succeed in the state's thriving financial sector, and Texas' large population means students enjoy plenty of options when it comes to higher education. This page offers an overview of accounting careers in Texas, highlighting typical degree paths, employment trends, certified public accountant (CPA) requirements, and career options after graduation.

Texas at a Glance

Population 29,087,070
Per Capita Income $30,641
Fortune 500 Companies 50
Number of Higher Learning Institutions 272
Climate

Average Annual Temperature: 64.8℉

Annual Precipitation: 28.9 inches

Major Sports Teams Houston Rockets, Dallas Cowboys, San Antonio Spurs, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros
Accountants in Texas 114,410

Top Texas Schools for Accounting

  • Southern Methodist University
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • Texas Christian University
  • Texas A & M University-College Station
  • University of St Thomas
  • Texas Tech University
  • Trinity University
  • The University of Texas at Dallas
  • Baylor University
  • University of Houston

Why Go to College for Accounting in Texas?

Texas employs more accountants than any other state except California. More than 2.2 million students enroll in colleges annually in Texas, and 9,755 students from Texas colleges sat for the state's CPA examination in 2019.

Texas' status as an economic hub creates many opportunities for accounting students. The state is home to 50 Fortune 500 companies, and its economy is projected to grow much faster than average through 2026, creating favorable circumstances for accounting graduates.

Many online accounting programs in Texas include on-campus requirements, particularly for students seeking CPA credentials. For these students, location may play a large factor in school selection.

The state's four largest cities -- Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin -- are home to multiple accounting programs, and attending a program in a major city can offer benefits in the form of networking and career opportunities. However, other prominent programs operate in smaller cities, such as College Station and Lubbock.

Education Statistics for Texas

As the country's second-largest state by population, Texas is home to a sizable number of two- and four-year colleges. Texas enrolls students in distance education at a rate slightly higher than the national average.

In general, the state allocates an above-average portion of its tax revenue to higher education but spends slightly less per student than the national average. In terms of educational attainment, the state holds slightly lower-than-average rates of associate, bachelor's, and master's degree achievement.

Higher Education Statistics in Texas
Texas Data National Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges 125 3,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges 119 1,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education 35.3% 34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student $7,888 $8,196
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 7.8% 5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree 7.1% 8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree 19.1% 19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher 10.2% 12.1%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau - American Community Survey

Accreditation for Texas Schools

Accreditation, the process through which colleges are reviewed and regulated, ensures general academic quality and reputability. A school that lacks proper accreditation may not offer an education that meets professional and academic standards, and credits earned from an unaccredited school may not transfer to other accredited institutions.

Accreditation comes in two forms: national, which applies to technical and vocational schools, and regional, which applies to academic and professional schools. Regional accreditation is generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Students seeking accounting degrees in Texas should look for schools with regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Considerations for an Accounting Degree in Texas

Many accounting students in Texas go on to earn CPA credentials in the state, so choosing a Texas school often serves as a commitment to live and work in the state after graduation.

This section outlines the major factors to consider when exploring accounting programs, including types of degrees, program delivery format, and tuition and financial aid. You'll also find information on factors specific to Texas, such as in-state vs. out-of-state tuition rates and cost of living.

Accounting Degree Levels

The level of degree you earn directly affects the type of accounting career you can pursue. There are four accounting degree levels:

Associate Degree in Accounting
An associate degree offers a basic overview of accounting principles, preparing graduates for entry-level jobs, such as bookkeeper and payroll clerk.
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Bachelor's Degree in Accounting
At the bachelor's level, students gain deeper knowledge of accounting principles and practices, preparing for more advanced positions, such as cost estimator and tax examiner.
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Master's Degree in Accounting
A master's degree serves as the most common educational pathway to CPA designation and is typically the highest level of education required for most careers in the field.
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Ph.D. in Accounting
The highest level of accounting education available, a Ph.D. builds comprehensive knowledge that prepares students for research and academic positions.
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Accounting Concentration Options

Nearly all accounting degrees focus on fundamental concepts of taxation and financial analysis, but many programs also give students the opportunity to specialize their skills through a professional concentration. A concentration builds advanced knowledge in one major area of accounting, such as taxation or auditing, which can help students pursue different career paths and distinguish themselves to employers after graduation.

Accounting Concentrations

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

Online and on-campus programs offer unique educational experiences, and both formats offer different benefits. This section outlines some of the notable distinctions between the two formats.

On-Campus

On-campus accounting programs offer strong learning communities, regular classroom meetings with peers and faculty, and access to the full resources of a college campus. However, this format is typically less flexible than online formats.

Online Programs

Online programs offer a high level of flexibility. Most programs offer some (if not all) courses asynchronously, enabling students to complete work whenever it suits their schedule. The flexibility of online learning allows students to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs offer a mix of online and on-campus courses. Some programs may offer an even split between on-campus and online content, while others lean more toward the online format but feature occasional on-campus sessions.
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
Texas Students 14% 21.3% 64.7%
United States Students 16.3% 18.4% 65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

While private colleges in Texas are slightly more expensive than the national average, two- and four-year public colleges in the state boast tuition rates slightly below the national average. Texas students can take advantage of financial aid opportunities to help offset the cost of their education.

Some financing options, such as scholarships, grants, and fellowships, don't require repayment. Others, such as loans, offer a variety of repayment options, with public loans typically featuring lower interest rates and more lenient repayment plans than private loans. Explore our associated guides for more information on financial aid, including accounting scholarships.

Average Cost of College Tuition and Fees in Texas, 2017-2018
Texas National
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year) $8,645 $9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year) $24,937 $25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year) $32,482 $30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year) $2,209 $3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year) $6,418 $7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Out-of-state students typically pay higher tuition rates at public schools than in-state students. However, Texas maintains reciprocity agreements that enable students in neighboring states to pay reduced tuition rates at many Texas schools.

For example, students can complete many online programs at Texas colleges at a reduced tuition rate through the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. Texas also maintains a bordering states tuition waiver program for residents of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, enabling students from these states to pay in-state tuition rates at some public Texas colleges.

Texas's Cost of Living

Cost of living can play a significant role in school selection. Texas ranks among the more affordable states in the country, with a cost of living index of 91.5 -- about 8.5% lower than the national average. The average cost of housing, groceries, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses in the state all rank well below the national average.

Other School Selection Criteria

School Size

Larger schools tend to offer wider course selections and more extensive resources than smaller schools, but small schools may feature more individualized attention from faculty.

Program Length

Some accounting programs offer accelerated options, enabling students to complete a heavier course load on a shorter timeline. Conversely, other programs offer part-time enrollment options, which take longer to complete but require less work each semester.

University Resources/Career Services

Students should research the career resources at prospective schools. Schools can vary widely in terms of the support and professional connections they offer to accounting students.

Competitiveness/Difficulty/Cost of Admission

More competitive schools often feature higher tuition rates, but these programs may lead to higher earnings after graduation.

Required Admission Materials/Test Scores

Some schools hold highly selective admission requirements, such as high minimum GPA and/or standardized test score requirements. However, not all programs give equal weight to test scores or GPA, and many evaluate applicants based on additional criteria such as professional experience.

Careers for Accounting Graduates in Texas

Texas ranks among the most prosperous states in the country, with an economy centered on oil, energy, agriculture, and technology, along with many other industries. Historically, Texas has attracted many businesses due to its low taxes and light regulations.

Much of the state's economic activity centers on the "Texas Triangle": the eastern mega-region comprising Houston, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Austin. About 75% of Texas' population resides in these four metro areas, and most of the state's Fortune 500 companies maintain their headquarters in Texas Triangle cities. All of the Big Four accounting firms (Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG) have offices in each of the four cities, while Ernst & Young also maintains offices in El Paso.

Accountants in Texas can pursue a variety of career paths, with most jobs available in the state's major urban centers. The following sections explore accounting careers and employment trends in the state.

Select Accounting Careers in Texas

Payroll Clerk

Accountants and auditors analyze and prepare financial records, ensuring that taxes are filed properly and in compliance with all relevant financial laws and regulations. They also examine and assess financial operations, helping organizations reduce their costs and increase profits. Accountants need at least a bachelor's degree, and many CPAs hold master's degrees.

Job Outlook in Texas: +18.89%, 2016-26

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Financial Manager

Financial managers oversee an organization's financial activities and plans, often supervising other finance employees. They typically need at least a bachelor's degree, though many companies prefer candidates with master's degrees. Financial managers often work as accountants or financial analysts before moving into management positions.

Job Outlook in Texas: +29.79%, 2016-26

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Cost Estimator

Cost estimators analyze financial data to estimate the time and budget required to create goods or perform services. They may specialize in one type of industry, such as construction or retail manufacturing. Cost estimators typically need a bachelor's degree, though some positions may be obtained with significant professional experience.

Job Outlook in Texas: +19.06%, 2016-26

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Texas Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

126,448 Employees2016
150,338 Employees2026
Texas (2016-2026) 18.9% increase
1,424,000 Employees2018
1,514,700 Employees2028
National (2018-2028) 6.4% increase

Source: Projections Central

* Associate Degree Recommended     ^ Bachelor's Degree Recommended     ~ Master's Degree Recommended

Explore more careers here

Careers for accountants, auditors, and financial managers significantly outnumber all other accounting jobs in Texas. These positions offer strong salary potential and high levels of employment.

Salary levels for most accounting careers in Texas mirror national averages, but certain advanced positions, including personal financial advisor and financial manager, offer salaries far above the national average. These career paths typically require a combination of education and professional experience. Becoming a financial manager, for example, may require an advanced degree and several years of professional experience.

Texas Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

Texas holds several requirements for CPA certification. All candidates sitting for the state's CPA exam must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Social Security Number: CPA candidates must possess a U.S. Social Security number, though Texas does not require U.S. citizenship or state residency.
  • Education: CPA candidates must hold at least 150 college credits, which candidates usually achieve with a 120-credit bachelor's degree and 30-credit master's degree.
  • Accounting Courses: Candidates must possess 30 semester credits of accounting courses, at least 15 of which must occur on campus and at least two of which must focus on accounting or taxation research and analysis. Candidates must also possess at least 24 credits of upper-level business courses, at least two of which must be in accounting or business communications, and a three-credit board-approved course in ethics.
  • Professional Experience: Candidates must hold at least one year of non-routine accounting experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA involving attestation services, professional accounting work, or professional accounting services.

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Is accounting a good career in Texas?
Accountants in Texas enjoy a strong job market with a projected growth rate far above the national average. Texas accountants earn wages similar to the national average, bolstered by the state's low cost of living.
How much do accountants earn in Texas?
As with any state, accountant salaries in Texas vary based on factors such as education, experience, location, and industry. However, the BLS reports that accountants and auditors earn an annual median wage of $71,550.
What accounting jobs are there in Texas?
Accounting graduates can pursue many different jobs in Texas, including accountant, auditor, financial manager, personal financial advisor, and tax examiner.
Can I get an accounting degree in Texas?
Texas offers a wide variety of accounting programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.
Does Texas have online accounting programs?
Texas offers several online accounting programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Many programs also offer hybrid formats that combine on-campus and online courses.

Texas Accounting and Education Organizations

  • Texas Society of CPAs Serving more than 28,000 members across the state, TXCPA offers extensive resources for practicing CPAs and accounting students, including networking, professional development, and educational opportunities.
  • Texas Association of CPAs TACPA hosts events and offers continuing education resources for Texas CPAs, including Boardwatch, a service that keeps accountants informed of state policy and regulation changes implemented by the Texas State Board of Accountancy.
  • Texas Association of Financial and Tax Specialists Promoting competency and professional integrity among Texas financial specialists, TAFTS offers local chapter meetings, networking opportunities, training courses, professional awards, and a quarterly trade newsletter known as The Ledger.
  • American Accounting Association A national professional organization for accountants, AAA offers training, development, and networking opportunities for accounting professionals, educators, and students. The organization hosts regular regional meetings for accountants in the Southwest.

Accounting Programs in Texas

Students researching online accounting degrees in Texas can choose from many schools and programs. This list ranks the top accounting programs in the state, all of which combine convenience, flexibility, affordability, and strong professional preparation.