The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission lists the accounting profession as one that can expect higher than average job growth, and projects an increase of 13.83 percent in the number of accounting jobs available in the next several years. This means some 2,270 accounting jobs can be expected to become available in the state between the year 2012 and 2022, which equates to some 710 new jobs each year.
The Oklahoma Accountancy Board, responsible for licensing CPAs in the state, has a two-tier system in place that requires CPA candidates to become certified as a prerequisite to being licensed with a permit to practice. Once applicants complete 150 semester hours of college credit of education as part of their and earn at least a bachelor’s degree programs, they may sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. Upon passing the exam, a certificate is awarded to the applicant in what is considered the first tier of the licensing process. As the second tier, and final step in the licensing process, CPA candidates must then fulfill the state’s requirement of one year of public accounting experience before a permit to practice is issued. With bachelor’s programs only including about 120 semester hours of college credit, online master’s degrees provide the perfect way to earn the full 150 semester hours required for a CPA license in Oklahoma.
CPAs in Oklahoma establish independent practices, join local or regional firms, or work for the “Big Four” international CPA firms, Ernst and Young or KPMG, both of which have offices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Accounting professionals are also found in private industry, working in many different capacities and for many different businesses as auditors, controllers, budget analysts, cost and capital accountants, and as management accountants. The world’s third largest international oilfield services company, Baker Hughes, has an Oklahoma City office and is recognized as one of the leading local private corporate employers of accountants.
Accountants specializing in the unique area of fund accountancy, where taxpayer and donated money must be allocated prudently, work for nonprofits like Feed the Children, which has an Oklahoma City location. Fund accounting specialists also work within local government administrations like the Grand River Dam Authority in Vinita, or Federal agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration in Oklahoma City.
The Bartlesville office of international energy corporation, ConocoPhillips, employs CPAs that work as litigation consultants, analyzing financial data and serving as liaisons to attorneys during business acquisitions and claims proceedings.
Fortune 500 engineering company, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), has branch offices that employ accountants throughout Oklahoma in cities including Midwest City, Cushing, Fort Sill, Lawton, and Oklahoma City.
Accountants looking to work in Oklahoma can look forward to steady job growth. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that Oklahoma-based accountants and auditors earned an average salary of $63,720 a year for 2014.
Accounting professionals in major metro areas with CPA licenses earn substantially higher salaries. In fact, Oklahoma City-based accountants in the top ten percent, which is representative those with CPA licensure, earned an average of $110,490 in 2014 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Oklahoma’s southeastern nonmetropolitan area rounds out the bottom of the state’s salary range for accountants, where the average was $47,990 a year in 2014. In contrast, Tulsa’s average is $66,980, while those in the top ten percent earned an average of $98,460 in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to information from the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance, internal auditors at midsized Tulsa-based corporations earned an average salary of $77,395. Forensic accountants in Oklahoma City brought home an average salary of $83,906.
Controllers at large corporations commanded up to $191,653 in Oklahoma City and $192,280 in Tulsa.
Accounting Salaries in Oklahoma’s Cities and Non-Metro Areas
The annual salary range for accountants in Oklahoma differs largely based on three factors: location, experience and CPA licensure.
The table below contains data from the 2014 BLS report on accountants and auditors in Oklahoma’s metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas:
Tax Preparer Salaries Throughout Oklahoma
The annual median salary for tax preparers in Oklahoma was $28,000 with those in the top ten percent earning an average of $73,800. Tax preparers in urban areas tend to make significantly more. The average salary for Oklahoma City-based tax preparers was more than twice that of tax preparers in the state’s southwestern nonmetropolitan area.
The table below provides a detailed analysis of tax preparer salaries throughout Oklahoma (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014):
In the wake of a 2010 report by the Oklahoma Tax Commission calling attention to the high cost of tax incentives and tax credits, Oklahoma legislature recently created a commission to examine the state’s tax incentives. It is hoped by many members of Oklahoma’s legislature that examining these incentives and eliminating some of them will help the state gain much-needed funds by collecting on additional tax revenue.
Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller reported in 2011 that the state’s economy is continuing to improve as collection of tax revenue in all categories has increased compared to the same time period last year. Tax revenue for the past year is over $10 billion, the highest it’s been in two years. Miller believes this is a strong indicator that the state’s economy is pulling out of the recession.