By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015
The Missouri Department of Labor has named accounting among the top 15 occupations with the highest level of projected growth through the year 2022. In fact, over 7,500 jobs in the field of accounting and auditing are expected to open in Missouri during this period.
The Missouri State Board of Accountancy is charged with licensing CPAs in the state. Becoming a certified public accountant means meeting education, examination, and experience qualifications prior to licensure that include earning a bachelor’s degree at minimum and 150 semester hours of college credit before passing all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam, and gaining a year of field experience. Since a bachelor’s degree will only result in about 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting is one of the best ways to earn the 30 additional credit hours required to become eligible for CPA licensure in Missouri.
CPAs operate independently providing tax services to the public, hold management and officer positions in business organizations, and are also found working for the “Big Four” international accounting and professional services firms PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and KPMG, all of which have offices in Kansas City. Top public accounting and advisory firm BKD also has a significant presence in Missouri with its office in Springfield, while National CPA firm Clifton Gunderson has a location in St. Louis.
As of 2015, ten Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Missouri, ranking the state 17th in the country in terms of highest concentration of Fortune 500 company headquarters. Big business is always a big opportunity for accountants who work as auditors, controllers, and managerial accountants for some of the biggest emergent companies, including online mail order prescription provider Express Scripts, Medicaid managed care corporation Centene, and electrical equipment giant Emerson Electric. Personal income tax service provider H&R Block has its world headquarters in Kansas City. Interestingly, their corporate headquarters is one of the leading employers of private accountants in the state who work as internal auditors and controllers, while at the same time their business model is built on employing many thousands of public accountants who work as tax preparers in their many neighborhood service locations worldwide.
Accounting information systems specialists are employed in the CHAN Healthcare Auditors’ office in Clayton. These tech-savvy accountants support the internal auditors tasked with reviewing the financial records of the state’s health care facilities.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2014 there were 22,950 accountants and auditors working in Missouri, making an average annual income of $69,160. One would expect to find most accountants concentrated in Missouri’s metropolitan areas, and the statistics prove this assumption. In fact, over 12,000 accountants worked in the St. Louis area. The Kansas City area followed as the next most popular area for accountants to work, and the Springfield metropolitan area was a distant third.
Metropolitan areas also tend to pay higher wages to workers than nonmetropolitan areas. This is true in Missouri where, as of May 2014, accountants in the St. Louis area were paid the highest annual median wage at $76,770. The next best paying area for accountants in Missouri was the Kansas City area, where mean wages were approximately $66,660 per year. Springfield accountants followed with a mean wage of $61,020 yearly.
Cincinnati Financial Corporation’s property casualty group recently announced pre-tax catastrophe losses of between $240 and $290 million from the April and May storms and tornadoes in the Joplin, Missouri area. This figure was well above expectations set by actuarial accountants for the second quarter. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has announced that he will hold $57.1 million in spending back from next year’s state budget. This money is being held back from the state’s general revenue fund so as to be available to invest in much needed natural disaster recovery efforts. Some of this money was originally intended for higher education institutions in the state, which will now see a 7% decline in state funding.