The Nebraska Department of Labor lists accounting as one of the top occupations in the state. The Department projects Job growth of 16.1 percent in the field of accountancy between the years 2010 and 2020, which equates to over 550 new job openings.
Nebraska was the first state in the nation to pass mandatory CPE (Continuing Professional Education) requirements for its CPAs. The Nebraska Board of Public Accountancy, the licensing body for CPAs in the state, ensures that all applicants have met the proper education, experience and examination requirements, as well as fulfilled the CPE hours required to maintain licensure. Consistent with the protocols of the Uniform Accountancy Act, Nebraska requires would-be CPAs to have a bachelor’s degree at minimum and a year of work experience after passing the CPA exam. With bachelor’s programs only including about 120 semester hours of college credit, online master’s degrees provide the perfect avenue for earning the full 150 semester hours required for a CPA license in Nebraska. Nebraska is a two-tier state, meaning that passing the Uniform CPA Exam earns an applicant certification, but licensure and a permit to practice is not granted until experience requirements are met.
CPAs often establish independent practices or work for public accounting firms such as “Big Four” firm Deloitte, which has a location in Lincoln, or Ernst & Young, with an office in Omaha. Academic institutions such as the University of Nebraska in Lincoln employ CPAs in both faculty teaching positions and non-faculty accounting positions. CPAs are also found working at all agencies of local government, including the Nebraska Department of Labor in Lincoln and the Douglas County Comptroller’s office in Omaha. Nonprofit organizations like the Nebraska Families Collaborative in Omaha also employ accountants to manage donated funds and ensure compliance with laws specific to tax exemption.
CNN Money online rated Omaha the seventh most business-friendly city in the nation in 2012. Lincoln ranked 17th of the 30 top metropolitan areas in the United States on the Forbes.com 2015 list of best cities in which to do business. A number of the nation’s biggest corporations, including Union Pacific Railroad and the contracting firm Kiewit Corporation, have headquarters in Nebraska. The world headquarters of international Fortune 500 foods company ConAgra Foods is in Omaha and is a major employer of management accountants specializing in international commerce.
A number of other Fortune 500 financial services and insurance companies are also headquartered in Omaha, including the world renowned Mutual of Omaha and Warren Buffett’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway. Financial services giant, TD Ameritrade, and polling service company, Gallup, also call Omaha home.
The lucrative field of accounting is growing 50% faster in Nebraska than in the country as a whole. The Nebraska Department of Economic Development expects the number of accounting jobs in the state to increase by 19% between 2008 and 2018. This is such a high rate of growth that the agency lists the field of accounting as the 18th fasting growing occupation in the state.
According to the Nebraska Department of Labor, the median salary for accountants was $57,907 in 2014. Accountants in the 90th percentile of this occupational category earned an average of $102,170.
Accountants with 3-5 years of experience at large corporate accounting firms in Omaha earned between $51,600 and $66,720 according to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide.
Accountants who specialize earn higher wages, and forensic accountants in Lincoln had salaries in the range of $60,725 to $94,775 in 2015. Controllers at large financial service firms in Omaha earned between $145,440 and $185,280.
CFOs earned even higher salaries partly due to their likelihood of being licensed CPAs. CFOs at financial service firms in Omaha earned in the range of $148,800 to $264,000.
Accountant and Auditor Salaries in Nebraska’s Urban and Rural Areas
General accountants and auditors in Omaha had the highest average salary in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 90th percentile in each area is representative of salaries for experienced accountants licensed as CPAs.
Urban and Rural Tax Preparer Salaries in Nebraska
The salaries of tax preparers in Nebraska varied more than two-fold in different parts of the state according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Tax preparers in the nonmetropolitan area of Central Nebraska had substantially higher salaries than their colleagues in the rest of the state in 2014:
A recent news report noted that tax collections in Nebraska increased recently, a sign that the state’s economy is improving. In May 2011, state tax collections were 9.5 percent greater than expected. In fact, sales tax receipts increased by an impressive 17 percent during that month.
In other state tax news, Governor Dave Heineman has indicated that he will refuse to sign a bill that would raise Nebraska’s cigarette tax to $1.99 per pack if the bill reaches his desk. Many health care professionals in the state, including doctors, therapists and dentists, have recommended the cigarette tax increase so that Medicaid reimbursement rates would not need to be cut. Right now the state’s cigarette tax is 64 cents per pack, well below the national average tax of $1.45 per pack and one of the lowest in the nation. The governor says that he will veto the bill, as he does not see raising any taxes as a way to justify spending more state money.