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.
One of the largest employers of government accountants in the state is the Office of Statewide Reporting and Accounting Policy in Baton Rouge. This office is responsible for managing financial information among all state agencies, including the Louisiana Department of State Civil Service and the Office of Planning and Budget, both also located in Baton Rouge.
A number of Fortune 500 companies also have a presence in Louisiana and are recognized as the areas biggest employers of corporate management accountants, financial controllers, internal auditors, and cost and capital accountants. Some of the most noteworthy of these are the power company Entergy in New Orleans, telecommunications company CenturyLink in Monroe, and engineering company The Shaw Group, located in Baton Rouge. Telecommunications giant Globalstar Inc. is headquartered in Covington, and specialty chemicals company Bercen, Inc. has its headquarters in Denham Springs.
Insurance giants such as Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Company in Metairie and the Prudential Insurance Company of America in Lafayette rely not only on their management accountants and controllers to efficiently manage revenue to cost and output while adhering to internal controls, but are also among the state’s biggest employers of actuarial accountants responsible for determining the probability of risk when developing insurance products and pricing plans.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission considers the field of accounting to be so promising that it awarded it a five star rating in 2015. This designation exemplifies occupations that have the best long-term outlook and wages in Louisiana. The agency predicts that 660 jobs in accounting will become available on average each year between 2012 and 2022.
Louisiana’s economy has improved to such an extent that Chief Executive rated it as the seventh best state to do business in 2015. Once considered a backwater, Louisiana is now regarded as dynamic and business-friendly.
The state has become competitive at drawing manufacturers for a number of reasons, including its strong business climate, high quality workforce development program, access to national and international markets, and robust GIS-mapping technology. Benteler Steel/Tube, Nucor, and Gardner Denver are prominent companies that have recently relocated to Louisiana.
Forensic accounting has been exceptionally prominent in Louisiana. The state sought high-powered accountants in the wake of Katrina and Rita to help audit the reconstruction funds allocated to Louisiana and make sure that they were properly dispersed.
Accounting Professional Salaries in Louisiana
The Louisiana Workforce Commission reported that the median salary for an accountant in the state was $57,408 in 2014. Professionals in the top tier of this occupational category earned an average salary of $94,058.
The 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide provides the salaries for a number of types of accounting positions found in Louisiana. General accountants at large corporate accounting firms in New Orleans and Baton Rouge earned the following salaries depending on their level of experience:
With their specialized knowledge at fighting fraud, forensic accountants generally receive higher compensation. In New Orleans and Baton Rouge, these professionals earned salaries ranging from $70,785 to $110,385.
Controllers in these cities receive even higher salaries. Those at small financial services firms earned from $91,080 to $122,265 a year, while their colleagues at large firms earned salaries that ranged from $149,985 to $191,070.
CFOs are the most highly paid, and generally hold a CPA license. CFOs at financial services firms in New Orleans or Baton Rouge earned between $153,450 and $272,250 a year according to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide.
Accountant Salaries in the Major Metropolitan and Nonmetro Areas of Louisiana
Information from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the average salaries for accountants in Louisiana were fairly similar throughout the state in 2014. Accounting professionals in Lafayette had the highest average salary:
Tax Preparer Salaries in Louisiana
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.