A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Texas

By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015

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In 2014, The Bureau of Labor Statistics published information showing a 2.4 percent average yearly increase in employment for accountants in the state for the ten-year projection period between 2012 and 2022. This 24 percent increase over the ten-year period represents an average of 5,640 new job openings for accountants in Texas each year. It’s no surprise that in a state where oil and gas exploration are big business, the companies driving this increase are technical and scientific corporations dedicated to these endeavors. As it stands, these corporations are already some of the biggest private industry employers of accountants in Texas.

The Texas State Board of Public Accountancy grants licenses to qualified candidates interested in becoming certified public accountants. To be eligible for licensure, CPA candidates are required to earn 150 semester hours of college credit and a bachelor’s degree before passing the Uniform CPA Exam and gaining a year of supervised experience. With most bachelor’s programs consisting of just 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting can provide the additional credit hours in advanced accounting coursework required for licensure in Texas.

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*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.

Texas’ CPAs are found working for the many local and regional CPA firms in the state. Many also work for international firms with a presence in the state, including Baird, Kurtz and Dobson, which has offices in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio and Clifton Gunderson, which has offices in Austin and Houston. A CPA license, often coupled with specialty certification, allows these professionals to serve as tax consultants and financial analysts in the Texas offices of global financial services firms like JPMorgan Chase, or as forensic accountants who investigate fraud under the auspices of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Accountancy Job Trends in Texas

With its concentration of big industry and big business, Texas is a major player in global commerce. Accountants familiar with International Financial Reporting Standards are needed to facilitate international trade for globally recognized companies like Marathon Oil, and engineering and construction giant, URS Corporation, both of which have a strong presence in Texas. 

Fortune 150/Global 500 petroleum refining company, Tesoro Corporation, which is headquartered in San Antonio, and industrial hygiene services company, ALS Environmental, with offices in Houston, both employ environmental accountants and auditors. The proliferation of oil and natural gas exploration in Texas necessitates the services of these specially trained professionals to help ensure compliance with environmental regulations so as to avoid EPA fees that could otherwise work to erode the bottom line.

Texas Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

In 2014, The Bureau of Labor Statistics published data showing that the median annual salary for accountants in the state was $66,300. An entry-level accountant working in tax preparation can expect to start at about $39,900, while an experienced accountant or licensed CPA is likely to earn closer to $120,800.

Accountants working in the Odessa area earn the highest average salaries in the state at $87,220. Other areas in which accountants earn higher than average salaries include the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown area where the average was $83,190 in 2014. The Texas Workforce Solutions industry profiles showed that accountants who work as financial managers and purchasing managers earned the highest average salaries in the state at $102,847 and $100,442 respectively.

Statewide, 105,840 accountants were employed in Texas as of last count in 2012. The Dallas-Fort Worth area employed the most with 34,960, followed by the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown area with 32,870 and the Plano-Irving area with 26,990.

Texas Tax Laws in the News

Throughout his two Presidential terms, President Barack Obama has targeted tax breaks for Texas oil companies. Currently, tax breaks for both Big Oil and independent petroleum producers amounts to $7.7 billion annually. Many Texas lawmakers are fighting the abolishment of these tax breaks, claiming that their eradication will make the price of gasoline climb even higher and eliminate jobs in the state. These legislators contend that smaller independent petroleum producers, and there are many throughout Texas, would be hurt by such a measure even more than Big Oil. 

In April 2015, the Texas House of Representatives passed a tax-relief package that lowered the state sales tax. This plan stated that the Texas sales tax was to be lowered from 6.25 percent to 5.95 percent. This was an unexpected decision in the Texas legislature, and there was immediate and widespread debate.

The House’s aim with this package was to aid all Texans, not just those who own businesses or property. Texas legislature came to a conclusion at the end of the session in May 2015. Instead of a sales tax cut for all Texas citizens, Texas businesses will receive a 25 percent cut on state franchise taxes. Though only Texas business owners will receive the tax cut directly, representatives believe that the plan will still benefit all Texas citizens by creating jobs statewide.