A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Kansas

Data provided by the Kansas Department of Labor shows an expected 16 percent increase in the number of accountants employed in the state between the years 2012 and 2022. This amounts to 2,010 jobs becoming available, 1,203 of which are directly related to growth rather than attrition.

In Kansas, becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a two-tier process, that involves first applying for a certificate without practice rights after passing the Uniform CPA Exam, then applying for a license/permit to practice once the Kansas Board of Accountancy’s one-year of related work experience requirement has been met. While gaining the practical experience required for CPA licensure, candidates very often choose to pursue a master’s in accounting to develop advanced accounting skills and to earn the 150 total semester hours required for licensure. Major public accounting firms in Kansas include Mayer Hoffman McCann located in Leawood, Cochran Head & Vick in Kansas City, and RubinBrown situated in Overland Park. CPAs in these firms perform services for corporate clients that include tax preparation, investment advisory, auditing and risk management.

Some accountants choose the academic field and work for educational institutions such as the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The federal government also employs accountants in a variety of settings; from Shilling Air Force Base to the Kansas office of the Department of Veterans Affairs located in Leavenworth. Accountants working for the VA are tasked with the important responsibility of managing funds that allocate money for veteran benefit programs.

Unique Opportunities for Accountants in Kansas’ Rural Counties

Kansas’ extensive rural area includes 69 counties. According to figures provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Kansas’ nonmetropolitan area employs the most accountants of any nonmetropolitan area in the country, with 2,190.

Among these rural communities is Salina, a town of 50,000 voted by Business Week in 2010 as the best place to raise your kids. Salina is home to over 50 different businesses and industries, all of which employ accountants. These include, international food service company Schwan’s Global Supply Chain, and a branch of aviation giant Hawker Beechcraft Corporation.

Accountants working within these corporations hold jobs that range from staff accountants who perform bookkeeping and financial reporting duties, to financial controllers responsible for the oversight of a company’s entire accounting and analysis activities.

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Accounting Jobs in Kansas

Financial and investment companies such as Edward Jones and the US Ag Bank of the Farm Credit Bureau are located in Wichita. Depending on their position, accountants working in the banking industry do everything from creating financial reports and maintaining records, to advising clients on investment strategies.

IT specialists with the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification granted through the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) work for IT companies like Wolters Kluwer, which has a presence in Wichita, where they provide consulting and special risk assessment services.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, located just across the boarder in Missouri, employs accountants with specialized certifications in forensic accounting that include Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and Chartered Bank Auditor (CBA) of the Bank Administration Institute.

Kansas Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

With the 2014 Kansas Economic Report from the state’s Department of Labor reporting an increase in the state’s GDP for the fourth consecutive year, the economy of Kansas is poised to continue growing.  This is good news for accountants in Kansas, and the state’s Department of Labor predicts their numbers to increase by 13.7% through 2020.  The agency predicts that this level of growth will generate 4,057 jobs over the ten-year period of this analysis.

The rural areas of Kansas have a large number of accountants.  In fact, the Department of Labor reported that the Kansas nonmetropolitan area had the highest level of employment for accounting professionals of any such area in the country in 2014. 

A diverse array of industries provides employment opportunities for corporate accountants in Kansas.  Major industries in the state range from aviation to agriculture to biomass production.  Wichita is the aviation capital of the world and home to both Spirit Aerosystems and Cessna Aircraft. A full 43% of domestic general aviation components are produced in Wichita.

Salaries for Accounting Professional in Kansas

The US Department of Labor reported that the median salary for an accountant in Kansas was $56,600 in 2014.  Experienced professionals in Kansas earned an average salary of $100,400 that year. 

The 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide reports on the salaries of different types of accounting positions in Kansas City in 2015.  Accountants starting their careers at large corporate accounting firms earned between $43,893 and $53,593 a year.

Forensic accountants in Kansas City had a higher earning potential, enjoying salaries that range between $69,355 and $108,155 a year.  Controllers at large financial services firms were even more highly paid, with salaries within the range of $146,955 to $187,210.

The highest salaries for accountants in Kansas City were reserved for Chief Financial Officers who typically have a CPA license and many years of corporate accounting experience.  CFOs in high-revenue corporate accounting firms earned salaries between $282,513 and $451,778.

Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in Urban and Rural Areas of Kansas

A detailed salary breakdown from the US Department of Labor indicated that general accountants and auditors in Wichita had the highest median salary in 2014.  Accountants and auditors in the 90th percentile of this occupational category were highly paid in both Wichita and the nonmetropolitan area of Kansas:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Lawrence KS
250
57630
Manhattan KS
420
58590
Topeka KS
1130
57970
Wichita KS
2730
64970
Kansas nonmetropolitan area
2190
62290

Tax Preparer Salaries in Wichita and the Kansas Nonmetropolitan Area

Tax preparers in Wichita earned higher salaries than their colleagues in the nonmetropolitan areas of Kansas in 2014 according to the US Department of Labor:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Wichita KS
170
36130
Kansas nonmetropolitan area
200
40590

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2014. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing.

Kansas Tax Laws in the News

Kansas’s lawmakers have recently approved new “sin tax” increases. The tobacco tax has been increased from $0.79 per pack to $1.29, a 50-cent increase. The tax increase also includes e-cigarette fluid, which will go from being untaxed to a tax of 20 cents per milliliter. This “sin tax” is meant to generate tax revenue to go towards public health programs; however, it may not bring in as much as the lawmakers hope.

Many Kansas stores, especially those near the border, have seen a large decline in sales due to customers crossing the border to buy products in bulk from states with a lower tobacco tax. Economics professor, Philip DeCicca, from McMaster University warns that though sin tax increases can be effective on occasion, they are an unreliable method: “Many states count on cigarette revenues to fund public health and other programs, as well as to bolster the general fund. It is likely their revenues will not match their expectations.”

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback recently signed an economic development bill that offers tax incentives to companies that invest in the state. If a business makes a capital investment of a qualified nature (such as software or equipment), that business is entitled to a 100 percent state income tax deduction for the amount of the purchased items. This measure is designed to ensure that these businesses will reinvest in the state. Some estimates suggest that this could allow up to $50 million per year to be invested back into growing business within Kansas.