By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015
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.
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.
Some encouraging news for college graduates interested in becoming accountants in Nebraska is the fact that in 2014 the Bureau of Labor Statistics has documented an average salary of $65,802 per year for accountants in the state.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also indicated in 2014 that the Omaha, Nebraska – Council Bluffs, Iowa area had the highest average annual salary in the region, at $69,240. In fact, accountants in the 90th percentile in that region made almost $110,000 per year on average.
Other high-paying areas include the Lincoln area, at an average of $63,160; the northeastern nonmetropolitan area, which includes Norfolk, Fremont, Columbus, and more, with an average of $62,090.
It is no surprise that the BLS also shows Lincoln and Columbus as the two areas in Nebraska with the highest number of accountants, with more than 6,000 of the state’s 8,630 accountants employed in those areas as of 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.