A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Kentucky

Workforce Kentucky, a department within the state’s Office of Employment and Training, projects a 10 percent increase in the number of accounting jobs in the state during the ten-year period ending 2022.

Accountants in Kentucky typically hold bachelor’s degrees, and based upon their chosen specialization or career track, may also need specialty certification or even state licensure. The Kentucky State Board of Accountancy licenses Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) who possess bachelor’s or higher degrees and a total of 150 semester hours of college credit, pass the Uniform CPA Exam, and fulfill the one year of work experience that is required prior to submitting an application for licensure. Because a bachelor’s degree consists of just 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting serves as the most common way to earn the 30 additional credit hours required for a CPA license in Kentucky.

Larger public accounting firms with offices in Kentucky include Crowe Horwath, LLP in Lexington and “Big Four” accounting firm Ernst & Young in Louisville. When serving clients, the jobs performed by CPAs in these public accounting firms often involve auditing financial statements, focusing on tax matters, or even advising companies on how to structure and implement employee benefits programs.

Accounting Jobs in Kentucky

Accountants who specialize in computer data management and the auditing of network systems are found working for companies like information technology giant CISCO in Louisville. The finance and insurance industry in Kentucky includes companies like Sun America Financial Group in Bowling Green and health benefits company Humana, headquartered in Louisville.

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Manufacturing companies include audio and electronics manufacturer Harman International in Franklin, while the retail sector is well represented by Amazon.com, with its operations offices in Hebron. Accountants who hold positions in management or who serve as financial controllers for these huge corporations often hold additional certification such as the Institute of Management Accountants’ CMA (Certified Management Accountant) credential or the Institute of Internal Auditors’ Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation.

Some of the worlds most successful companies are headquartered in the Louisville, Shelbyville and Shepherdsville area. Among these are companies with household names like GE Consumer and Industrial, Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company PharMerica, and Fortune 500 company Yum! Brands, Inc.; the operator of 38,000 fast food restaurants around the world. These types of companies employ private accountants of all kinds, from international tax specialists to those specializing in financial analysis.

Financial services group Fidelity Investments has an office in Covington, as does global marketing research firm ACNielsen, both of which employ accountants that work as financial controllers who mitigate risk and assure regulatory compliance.

Companies in this area that employ information technology specialists who work as IT systems auditors include software company Omincare, Inc. in Covington and Pomeroy IT Solutions Consulting Group, headquartered in Hebron.

Kentucky Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

The field of accounting is growing in Kentucky, and the state’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet expects the number of accounting positions in the state to increase by 10.21% between 2012 and 2022—generating 402 jobs on average each year during this time frame. 

The median salary for an accountant in Kentucky was $54,849 in 2014 according to the state’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.  Accountants in the 90th percentile of this occupation earned an average of $92,630 that year.

The 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide provides the salaries of different types of accounting positions, showing that salaries for accountants can vary widely depending on such factors as years of experience, type of industry, company size, and accounting specialty. 

For instance, corporate accountants in Lexington with more than five years of experience earned between $62,219 and $79,414 when they worked at large companies, while their colleagues at smaller firms had salaries ranging from $41,178 to $53,395.

Specialists such as forensic accountants earn higher salaries.  Such professionals in Louisville earned between $65,780 and $102,580 a year.  Controllers are even more highly paid, and those who worked for large financial services firms in the city earned between $139,380 and $177,560 a year.

CFOs, who very often hold CPA licenses, earn far and away the highest salaries in the field.  The salaries for CFOs of financial services companies in Lexington ranged from $140,275 to $248,875 a year according to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide

Salaries for Accountants in Rural and Urban Areas of Kentucky

Salary data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics described the wide variance in salaries for accountants in different locations in Kentucky in 2014.  The median salary for these professionals was highest in Owensboro: 

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Bowling Green KY
300
52660
Elizabethtown KY
180
63240
Lexington-Fayette KY
1940
67810
Louisville-Jefferson County KY-IN
4600
61880
Owensboro KY
180
65630
West Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
590
61570
South Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
640
55550
West Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
900
47150
East Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
580
54610

Tax Preparer Salaries in Kentucky’s Rural and Urban Areas

The salaries for Kentucky’s tax preparers varied as much as two-fold depending on their location.  Such professionals in Lexington-Fayette had the highest average salary in the state in 2014, while their colleagues in the nonmetropolitan area of West Central Kentucky had the second highest average salary (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014):

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Bowling Green KY
30
27690
Lexington-Fayette KY
70
39180
Louisville-Jefferson County KY-IN
250
33220
Owensboro KY
30
28520
West Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
50
27840
South Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
70
20570
West Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
90
37390
East Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
70
19560

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.

Kentucky Tax Laws in the News

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority recently approved tax incentives for companies contemplating new investments in the state. This move, designed to bring new projects to Kentucky, allows companies that accept the incentive to keep funds they would otherwise spend on taxes.

Companies operating in Kentucky that have already benefited from this deal include Hitachi Automotive Systems in Berea, which received a $4 million incentive to build a plant that manufactures electric motors for vehicles. Hitachi expects this will help them create 130 new jobs in Kentucky. Neogen, in Lexington, also received $2 million to enlarge its animal health care product manufacturing and distribution plant, and expects to add 75 new jobs. Montebello Packaging in Lebanon received $1 million to enhance a plant that manufacturers laminate and aluminum tubes, and expects it will hire 26 new employees. 



Other tax news in Kentucky concerns a tax on bourbon distillers that the industry considers unfair. The crux of the matter is a tax that requires distillers to carry the costs of their inventory until the bourbon is ready to be sold, a process that can take some 18 years of aging for the finest bourbon. The new provision on the table would allow these distillers to deduct expenses associated with manufacturing bourbon before the product is actually put on liquor store shelves. As Kentucky produces the majority of the world’s bourbon, this proposed tax benefit is considered by many to be crucial to the state’s economy.