Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Idaho
Idaho has two classifications for individuals interested in becoming public accountants: Licensed Public Accountants (LPAs), and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). The Idaho Board of Accountancy is unique in that it is one of only a handful of state boards that continues to offer licenses to new non-certified public accountants. The CPA designation requires a bachelor’s degree at minimum, one year of experience and passing scores on all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam, all in accordance with the Uniform Accountancy Act. With 150 hours of college credit required to become eligible for a CPA license, candidates often go on to earn a master’s degree in accounting since, in most cases, a bachelor’s degree alone will result in just 120 semester hours.
Licensed public accountants perform tax preparation and bookkeeping services as proprietors of their own businesses, or work for companies like Sage Bookkeeping in Hailey or ADA Tax Professionals in Boise. CPAs also establish independent practices specific to tax planning and income tax filing, or offer their expertise to either national CPA firms like Myers and Stauffer, which has a location in Boise, or locally based firms like CooperNorman or Magnuson, McHugh & Company in Coeur d’Alene. Two of the “Big Four” International CPA and business advisory firms, Deloitte and KPMG, have a strong presence in Idaho as well.
Accountants with a penchant for managing business finances and efficiently allocating company resources may work in managerial accounting capacities, or as financial controllers, cost and capital accountants. Technology companies like Micron Technology, Inc with it’s cooperate headquarters in Boise and engineering giant URS with an office in Boise, are among the largest employers of private sector corporate accountants in the state.
Government accountants serve in the public sector at the municipal, county, state and federal levels where they manage tax revenue sourced funds for the State Office of the Controller in Boise, the Idaho County Clerk/Auditor’s Office, and the Department of Defense, which has a location in Boise.
Job Growth and Salary Expectations for Accountants in Idaho
Idaho’s strong economy bodes well for anybody forging a career path in the accounting field here. According to Governing.com, the state ranked 4th in the nation for overall job growth in 2017, pacing along with the overall population growth boom the state has been experiencing.
The Idaho Department of Labor expects a 14.6% job growth rate in the accounting field between 2016 and 2026. This in combination with typical turnover in the field should result in an average of 450 new positions becoming available each year.
The US Department of Labor reported that the median salary for an accountant in Idaho was $58,270, while those in the top of their profession earned an average of $100,250.
But general figures like these for a broad classification of accounting professionals don’t tell you all that much. Accounting is a field where specialized skills, advanced credentials, and the complexity of an individual accountant’s role within an organization have significant sway over what they can expect to earn. Location, industry and firm size have a sizable effect on the salaries accounting professionals can expect to earn too. But like any area of business where know-how and stripes earned are valued above all else, experience is perhaps the single biggest factor. The BLS numbers just don’t tell the whole story.
Salaries for Accountants in Different Specialized Roles
The 2019 Robert Half Accounting and Finance Salary Guide attempts to bring more clarity to what specific roles can offer at different levels of experience and in different industries. The guide provides starting salary data at the 25th, 50th, and 95th percentile, exclusive of bonuses or incentives.
The differences between those levels can usually be explained by some combination of education, qualification, firm size, or sector.
In Boise, the state’s largest market, some of the most popular roles and the salary offers associated with them are shown here:
Corporate Staff Accountants in Financial Services
A general staff accountant in Boise working for a brokerage or other financial services firm can start off anywhere between $45,835 and $85,885 with a $55,180 midpoint.
Experience boosts those numbers rapidly, however (25th to the 95th percentile range):
- 3 to 5 years experience: $53,178 – $100,792
- 5+ years experience: $60,520 – $115,032
Bringing expertise in implementing internal policies that ensure regulatory compliance along with experience in their respective industries, corporate controllers in Boise can make anywhere from $81,880 – $184,898, with a $105,242 midpoint.
Having specialized investigative experience can also increase an accountant’s earning power. For instance, forensic accountants in Boise earned salaries that ranged between $67,640 and $128,828 a year (lower 25 percent to top five percent).
Tax Specialists and Auditors in Public Accounting Firms
Public accounting embraces a set of services that almost every business or individual will need at some point, and so there are accounting firms that deliver audit, assurance, and tax services in almost every town and city in the state.
The range of compensation varies just as broadly, but a senior director in an auditing practice in Boise can make between $97,455 – $185,788, with a $116,812 midpoint.
Other ranges for public accountants in Boise based on experience and specialization are shown here (25th to 95th percentile):
- Management – $66,305 – $126,825
- Senior – $47,392 – $90,335
- 1-3 years experience – $38,715 – $73,648
- Management – $76,762 – $146,182
- Senior – $53,845 – $100,570
- 1-3 years experience – $42,498 – $81,435
Accountants in Executive Roles
The most lucrative accounting jobs are executive level positions held by CPAs who spend years working their way up from accounting departments to corporate leadership positions. They are well compensated for the credential and the expertise it represents. Chief Financial Officers with corporations in Boise command salaries that range from $107,912 to $442,552 a year at the 25th to 95th percentile.
Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in Idaho’s Rural and Urban Areas
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the average salary for general accountants and auditors was substantially higher in Pocatello than in most parts of the state in 2018.
(This broad classification includes accounting professionals in different areas of specialty, with different credentials, and with varying levels of experience.)
Salaries for Tax Preparers in the Boise-Nampa Area
The average salary for tax preparers in the Boise area was $28,810 in 2018 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. A full analysis is shown below.
Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_id.htm#13-2011. BLS salary data represents state and MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
Salary data for specific job titles sourced from the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting & Finance Professionals – https://www.roberthalf.com/salary-guide/accounting-and-finance. All ranges represent starting salaries at the 25th and 95th percentiles unless otherwise noted, with midpoint figures representing the 50th percentile. Experience, specialty area, credentials, and role all influence where salaries might fall within this range. These base salaries do not include bonuses or other incentives.
Job growth projections sourced from the Idaho Department of Labor and reported in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
All salary and job growth data accessed in May 2019.