A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Kansas

By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015

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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.

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*Qualifying for a CPA license requires a bachelor’s degree at minimum and a total of 150 semester hours of college credit to include coursework in accounting, business and ethics. Since bachelor’s programs typically result in just 120 semester hours of credit, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) maintains that earning a Master of Science in Accounting is the best way to achieve the full 150 semester hours you need to become licensed.

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.

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

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for accountants working in Kansas was $58,600 in 2014. The highest-paying metropolitan area in the state year was the Kansas City area, where accountants made an average of $66,600 annually. This area also employs the greatest number of accountants in the entire Kansas-Missouri region, at 10,340. Just behind Kansas City is Wichita, where accountants earn an average of $64,970 per year.

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.