By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015
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.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average accountant salary in the state is $63,720 in 2014. Accountants working in the Oklahoma City area earn the highest salary in the state at $67,020. Accountants based in Tulsa earn the next highest average salary at $66,980, while those in the Southwestern nonmetropolitan area earn an average of $65,040 per year.
According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were some 14,620 accountants working throughout the state of Oklahoma as of May 2014. As is the case in many states, most accountants are employed in larger metropolitan areas such as Oklahoma City, which was home to 6,410 accountants in 2014. The area with the next highest concentration of accountants was in the Tulsa area, which was home to 4,310 accountants that year. There is also a relatively high concentration of accountants working in the Northeastern nonmetropolitan area towns of Miami and Vinita.
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.