A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in South Dakota

By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015

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According to the South Dakota Department of Labor, there is a high demand for accountants in the state in the current ten-year period ending 2022. Between 2012 and 2022, the Department expects the number of accounting jobs to grow by 8.7 percent.

The South Dakota Board of Accountancy licenses and regulates the practice of certified public accounting. The requirements for those interested in becoming CPAs includes a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours of college credit, passing scores on the Uniform CPA Exam, and one year of professional accounting experience. While satisfying the experience requirement, aspiring CPAs often begin working to earn a master’s degree in accounting to earn the full 150 semester hours required for a CPA license, as most bachelor’s programs only result in 120 semester hours. 

While none of the “Big Four” CPA firms hold offices in South Dakota, there are plenty of opportunities in other well known accounting and professional services firms, private industry, as well as for those interested in establishing independent practices. Financial advisory and investment firm, AXA Advisors, LLC, has offices in Sioux Falls; energy company, Black Hills Corporation, has its headquarters in Rapid City; and the regional branch office of international equipment trailer company, Terex Load King, are located in Elk Point. These companies are recognized as some of the leading private employers of accountants in the state. 

Featured Undergraduate Program

*Accredited accounting programs are available in a flexible online format that puts an undergraduate degree in accounting well within reach. Prepare to earn your CPA license and develop the skills employers are looking for with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Featured Graduate Program

*Qualifying for a CPA license requires a bachelor’s degree at minimum and a total of 150 semester hours of college credit to include coursework in accounting, business and ethics. Since bachelor’s programs typically result in just 120 semester hours of credit, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) maintains that earning a Master of Science in Accounting is the best way to achieve the full 150 semester hours you need to become licensed.

There are many areas of specialty for CPAs and other accounting professionals interested in pursuing additional certification. Some work as forensic accountants investigating claims of fraud, while others find their niche as financial planners for companies like the multinational investment firm Edward Jones, which as an office in Rapid City.

South Dakota Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average salary for accountants in the state to be $60,000. This salary average may vary dependent on factors that include years of experience, industry of employment, and area of specialty, and this is seen in the fact that the top 10 percent of accountants in the state earned an average salary of $83,950 per year. Accountants working in the Sioux Falls area earn the highest average salary in the state at $63,660. On the other side of the state, those working in the Rapid City area earn an average of $60,460.


The highest concentration of accountants (1,590) is found in the Sioux Falls metropolitan area. The remainder of the eastern area of the state combined, which includes the counties of Beadle, Bon Homme, Brookings, Brown, Clark, Clay, Codington, Davison, Day, Deuel, Grant, Hamlin, Hanson, Hutchinson, Kingsbury, Lake, Marshall, Miner, Moody, Roberts, Sanborn, Spink, Union, and Yankton, is home to another 1,130.

South Dakota Tax Laws in the News

In a 2011 report issued by the Tax Foundation, a national tax research group based in Washington, D.C., South Dakota ranks first as the most tax-friendly state in which to conduct business. This report compares income tax, corporate tax, sales tax, property tax, and unemployment insurance tax codes in all 50 states to determine rankings. South Dakota charges no corporate taxes to businesses, nor does it have an individual state income tax. This lack of taxation has always made South Dakota an amazing place to establish and conduct business. 

Recently; however, there has been talk among state legislators about instituting new taxes. In the wake of state cuts to education funding and Medicaid reimbursement, a committee comprised of professionals from the fields of health care, education, and business has been formed to investigate tax options for generating revenue in the state. 

Fifteen thousand signatures from South Dakota residents would be necessary to petition for an initiated measure on the 2012 ballot to increase the taxes paid by businesses in the state. Signature drives are being staged around South Dakota, and all signatures must be in by November 2011 in order for the measure to be considered on the 2012 ballot.