By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015
Occupational employment projections provided by the Louisiana Workforce Commission indicate that employment opportunities for accountants and auditors are expected to grow at a rate of 1.7 percent (equal to 640 jobs) each year between 2012 and 2022.
The State Board of Certified Public Accountants of Louisiana confers the status of Certified Public Accountant (CPA) upon qualified bachelor’s program graduates that have completed at least 150 semester hours of college credit, one year of practical work experience, and achieved passing scores on the Uniform CPA Exam. With most bachelor’s programs consisting of just 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting can provide the additional credit hours in advanced accounting coursework required for CPA licensure in Louisiana.
CPAs in Louisiana work for a broad variety of industries and corporations. Some of the most sought after positions are within CPA firms that have developed the most respected reputations in the world of accounting. Chief among these are “Big Four” international CPA firms PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG, all of which have offices in New Orleans.
According to data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Louisiana employs 11,950 accountants and auditors (May 2014 figures). Many of which (4,120 to be exact) work in the New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner area. Other popular areas of employment for accountants include Baton Rouge with 2,670 and the Shreveport-Bossier City area with 1,080.
When it comes to accountant salaries in Louisiana, the BLS reports the average statewide salary to be $62,990. The Lafayette area pays accountants the highest average salary at $66,660. Other areas that pay salaries higher than the state average include the Houma/Bayou Cane/Thibodaux area at $64,450; New Orleans at $64,370; and Shreveport/Bossier City where the average is $64,060.
Corporate managerial accountants in Louisiana work for companies like industrial distribution giant DXP in Bossier City, insurance group The James Allen Companies in Baton Rouge, Lofton Security in Alexandria, and financial services corporation IBERIABANK in New Orleans.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission reports a particularly bright outlook for those who strive to become accountants in certain specialized positions. Budget analysts, who examine budget and accounting reports to control expenditures, are currently among the specialized accountants in highest demand. Construction cost estimators are also in high demand, as they are vital to operating within budget as Louisiana moves forward with major industrial projects that include Nucor Corporation’s recently announced plans to build a state-of-the-art iron-making facility in St. James Parish.
Many recent amendments to the Louisiana tax system occurred after Hurricane Katrina when the accountants and tax preparers serving thousands of Louisiana’s storm-affected residents needed to know how to deduct disaster-related losses. The state allowed amended tax returns following this disaster, as well as casualty loss deductions for those affected not only by Hurricane Katrina, but also by Hurricanes Wilma and Rita.
The state of Louisiana often holds what are known as “tax holidays,” sometimes occurring on a holiday weekend, to encourage residents to purchase hurricane supplies and other necessities tax-free. As sales tax is usually four percent, purchasing some of the pricier items, such as generators and storm shutters, becomes much more cost-effective for state residents during a tax holiday. The tax-free status also applies to smaller supplies necessary for hurricane readiness such as batteries, food storage coolers, and radios.