Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Alberta
The Government of Alberta’s Department of Employment and Immigration projects that by the year 2019 demand for accountants will outweigh supply. This is very good news for those interested in becoming accountants in Alberta, as it illustrates the resilience of the accounting industry even during times of slow economic growth.
Chartered Accountants, who are regulated by Chartered Accountants of Alberta; Certified Management Accountants, regulated by CMA Alberta; and Certified General Accountants, regulated by CGA Alberta are among the most respected and best recognized formal designations for accounting professionals in the country. These designees are found working throughout Alberta in public accounting, business, nonprofit, and government where they hold various positions. They function as staff accountants, internal auditors, controllers, financial analysts, and management accountants and are found working everywhere from “Big Four” International public accounting firms such as Deloitte, with offices in Calgary and Edmonton, to government entities and nonprofit organizations like the McMan Youth, Family & Community Services Association in Innisfail.
Job Trends for Accountants in Alberta
Alberta’s economy, one of the strongest in Canada, continues to thrive. Forest resources, petroleum, and energy are the driving industries in the province, and are the biggest industry employers of corporate accountants. A number of Global Fortune 500 Companies call Alberta home. Among these are Suncor Energy and Profire Energy located in Spruce Grove, Energy Alberta Corporation located in Whitemud, and Wescorp Energy in Calgary.
The headquarters of the Canadian Farm Insurance Corporation located in Edmonton and the Canadian Lawyers Insurance Association housed in Calgary are not only leading employers of managerial accountants, but are also major employers of actuaries whose unique statistical accounting practices help establish the cost of many of the companies’ insurance products. ATB Financial, also known as Alberta Treasury Branches, is a government-regulated bank headquartered in Edmonton that is also a leading employer of accounting professionals.
Big four accounting firm KPMG’s publication, Competitive Alternatives, a guide to international business costs, has named Edmonton and Calgary among the most competitive of all North American cities in terms of cost of doing business. This has helped to make Alberta a prime location for new and expanding businesses and a hub of international commerce.
Alberta Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts
According to the 2009 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the average yearly salary for accountants in Alberta is $66,923, with the 90th percentile earning an average of $106,787 annually. Wage information differs for accountants based on the industry in which they work. For example, the survey reports that accountants working in the oil and gas extraction industry make the highest average salary, at $86,810. Accountants in the utilities industry can expect an average annual salary of $74,262.
Accountants working in the Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake region of Alberta make the highest average annual salaries at $79,007. Other areas of Alberta that pay accountants higher than the average annual provincial salary include the Camrose-Drumheller region at $75,343, and the Calgary area at $73,502.
Salary information compiled by the 2009 Alberta Wage & Salary Survey
Alberta Tax Laws in the News
A recent report stated that small businesses in Alberta are paying a disproportionately large percentage of municipal property tax. The study, produced by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in 2010, shows that 250 of the 359 municipal governments in the province charged smaller businesses property tax rates that were higher than those charged to residents living on property assessed at the same value. Officials justify this higher rate by stating that non-residential businesses use more municipal services than residential property owners do, while opponents see this as a hindrance to the success of smaller businesses in the province.
In other news, some candidates in the election for Alberta Premier are proposing a tuition tax break for students who finish post-secondary studies in Alberta, and who then choose to stay in Alberta to work. Candidate Ted Morton has proposed tax credits of up to $20,000 for college graduates who choose to work in Alberta for up to seven years after graduation. He says that this tax credit would make Alberta’s education more affordable while also helping to build a skilled workforce in the province.