A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Kentucky

By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015

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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.

Featured Undergraduate Program

*Accredited accounting programs are available in a flexible online format that puts an undergraduate degree in accounting well within reach. Prepare to earn your CPA license and develop the skills employers are looking for with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Featured Graduate Program

*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.

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.

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

According to information provided by Workforce Kentucky, accounting is among the top 50 fastest growing occupations in the state, and data published in a 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, shows that accountants here can look forward to average salaries of $61,970.

Workforce Kentucky shows that the Workforce Investment Area (WIA), of Kentuckiana, which includes Louisville, Shelbyville, and Shepherdsville, employed the most accountants, at 4,600. In 2014, these accountants were earning an average salary of $61,880.

The highest paid accountants in Kentucky are found in the northern Kentucky area close to Cincinnati, Ohio. These accountants averaged a yearly salary of 69,170. The accountants located in the Lexington and Fayette area enjoy the second highest average salary, earning $67,810 on average. Other areas with salaries higher than the state average include Owensboro at $65,630; the Huntington/Ashland area where the average is $64,940; and Elizabethtown, where the average was $63,240 in 2014.

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.