By an AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015
Employment studies conducted by the United States Department of Labor in 2014 revealed that Arkansas was home to roughly 7,650 accountants and auditors. By 2022, this number is expected to rise to 8,550, which shows an employment growth rate of 12% during this projection period. As a result of this job expansion, accountants can look forward to approximately 320 job openings becoming available each year in Arkansas during this ten-year projection period.
The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services projects an astounding 26.2 percent increase in the number of accounting jobs expected to become available in the state in the current ten-year period ending 2016. This increase, which amounts to about 274 job openings each year, is in line with the expected increase of 32.4 percent for occupations within the more general classification of accounting and bookkeeping for that same time period. This is encouraging news for those interested in becoming accountants in Arkansas.The Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy grants licensure to CPA candidates who have 150 semester hours of college credit, one year of experience, and passing scores on the Uniform CPA Exam. Since most bachelor’s programs consist of just 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting provides the perfect path to earning the additional credit hours required for a CPA license in Arkansas. CPAs are found working throughout both government and private industry and many serve as business and risk consultants, tax specialists, and external auditors for major accounting firms with locations in the state. Three of the “Big Four” international CPA and professional services firms have a presence in Arkansas. Both Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers have offices in Little Rock, while Ernst & Young has offices in Rogers. Other top employers of CPAs in the state include the well-known Frost, PLLC and BKD, LLP; both of which have locations in Little Rock.
According to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, the top areas of employment for accountants in the state are bookkeeping services, company management, the college and university system, as well as the hospital system. The private sector continues to lead as the major employer of accountants in the state, helped by the fact that Arkansas is home to the world headquarters and corporate offices of retail giant Walmart, which is located in Bentonville. These corporate offices employ more private management accountants, internal auditors, financial controllers, cost and capital accountants than any other single enterprise in the state.
Rounding out the top private employers of accountants in the state are Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of international tire and rubber company Goodyear, which has its corporate offices in Fort Smith. The corporate offices of the telecommunications company, Windstream are also located in Arkansas, as is Tyson Foods, which has corporate headquarters in Springdale.
Since each local community needs a finite number of accountants to satisfy their present demand, accountants can expect job availability to vary widely depending on their desired region of employment. For example, in 2014, the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway district was home to 2,530 accountants, making this the top location in the state for accounting professionals. On the other hand, the city of Hot Springs was home to just 100 accountants.
Additional employment information for other major cities and nonmetropolitan locales in Arkansas are as follows:
In 2014, the United States Department of Labor made salary inquiries that confirmed accountants in Arkansas earned an average annual salary of $62,160 and an average hourly wage of $29.88. Accountants that intend to achieve higher-than-average salaries should commit to earning CPA licensure and accumulating quality experience:
However, experience is not the only factor contributing to an accountant’s earning potential in Arkansas. Geographic placement of employment can mean the difference between a $66,000 annual salary and a $48,000 annual salary here. The following salary statistics express how much accountants earned on average in several key cities, regions, and metropolitan districts across Arkansas in 2014:
Arkansas legislators have proposed a bill that would increase taxes on diesel fuel and also increase state sales tax as a means by which to finance state highway projects. Funding from these tax increases would support construction of a $1.8 billion four-lane highway that would connect the entire state, while an additional $1.1 billion would go to improvements on existing highways. The Arkansas Trucking Association recently withdrew support for the diesel fuel tax, which could jeopardize the entire bill. If the governor chooses, the matter may be decided by special election or postponed until the 2012 general election.
Other tax news in Arkansas concerns the proposal of a prepared food tax in the Fort Smith area designed to support operation of the Fort Smith Convention Center. This one percent tax, which was supposed to begin June 1, 2011, has not yet been decided due to legal issues surrounding the validity of names that appear on petitions calling for a referendum.