A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Mississippi

By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015

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The Mississippi Department of Employment Security expects an extraordinary 21.7 percent projected increase in the number of jobs available to accountants in the current decade. This amounts to about 220 new jobs each year between 2008 and 2018. 

The Mississippi State Board of Accountancy regulates and licenses certified public accountants. This licensing body holds applicants accountable to standards of education, examination, and experience before licenses are issued. Candidates will be eligible to become licensed certified public accountants after completing a bachelor’s degree programs and 150 semester hours of college credit, one year of work experience, and after demonstrating competence through passing scores on all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam.

 Since a bachelor’s degree only consists of about 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting is one of the best ways to earn the additional credit hours necessary for CPA licensure in Mississippi.

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.

Although “Big Four” accounting firm KPMG has an office in Jackson, other leading firms such as BKD, Horne, and the Kemp Group, located in Madison, employ a greater number of Mississippi’s CPAs accumulatively.

Major Industry Employers of Accountants in Mississippi

According to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, the number one industry in the state as of 2015 is agriculture, which encompasses crop production, poultry, livestock, forestry, and cotton; however, the most produced crops are cotton, soybeans, and rice. As the number one industry, agriculture employs about 260,000 people, makes up 17 percent of the state’s workforce, and brings in about $7.9 billion annually. Tyson Foods, based in Carthage, is one of the state’s largest employers, as is poultry processing plant, Sanderson Farms, located in Summit. Big agriculture is big business and the combined sectors of the agriculture industry bring in billions of dollars to the state each year, all of which must be accounted for, taxed and distributed or otherwise allocated for reinvestment. For this reason, agriculture continues to be the biggest industry employer of accountants in Mississippi.

Canton is home to Nissan North America, where in the global economy of the 21st century imports are actually manufactured right here in America. This has helped put Mississippi on the map as a Midwest leader in facilitating international commerce. As American accountants adopt the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) used around the world, the new generation of accountants more familiar with these standards will find their skills in greater demand in companies that conduct business oversees. 

With riverboat casinos and resorts like Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport, and Gold Strike Casino in Robinsonville, gambling is a sizable industry in Mississippi. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has established protocols detailed in their Gaming Audit and Accounting Guide, which creates a unique opportunity for specialization among accountants working in the gaming industry.

Mississippi Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor reported that as of May 2014 there were 5,170 accountants working across the state of Mississippi, the most significant number of which are concentrated in the Jackson area.

The average salary for Mississippi’s accountants was $56,030 as of May 2014, according to the same BLS report. The Pascagoula area paid its accountants average salaries of $59,350 per year. Accountants working in the Memphis, TN/MS area made $62,640 on average. The Southwest Mississippi nonmetropolitan area, including towns like Natchez and Liberty, paid accountants $56,740 per year on average. Accountants working in the Southeast nonmetropolitan area of Gulfport and Biloxi also made salaries slightly higher than average at $57,240 annually. Jackson based accountants round out the list of those making higher than the state average, with those in the 90th percentile making $85,510 yearly.

Mississippi Tax Laws in the News

About 2,300 Mississippi charities and organizations are about to lose their tax-exempt status, according to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. These companies, which include fraternal, religious and veterans’ organizations, have not filed financial reports for three years and are therefore faced with the prospect of forfeiture of their tax-exempt status. While these companies will still be able to legally solicit money in Mississippi, a contributor will no longer be able to deduct a donation from their federal or state income tax returns. 

In other state tax news, the Mississippi Tax Commission is trying to reduce the number of stolen license plate renewal stickers. This type of theft from license plates has become problematic, particularly in the Jackson area. The Tax Commission has created a new type of sticker that corresponds with each individual license plate by matching the license number. This theft deterrent is expected to resolve the issue and eliminate lost tax revenue collected through vehicle registration.