Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Kansas

In Kansas, becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a two-tier process, that involves first applying for a certificate without practice rights after passing the Uniform CPA Exam, then applying for a license/permit to practice once the Kansas Board of Accountancy’s one-year of related work experience requirement has been met. While gaining the practical experience required for CPA licensure, candidates very often choose to pursue a master’s in accounting to develop advanced accounting skills and to earn the 150 total semester hours required for licensure. Major public accounting firms in Kansas include Mayer Hoffman McCann located in Leawood, Cochran Head & Vick in Kansas City, and RubinBrown situated in Overland Park. CPAs in these firms perform services for corporate clients that include tax preparation, investment advisory, auditing and risk management.

Some accountants choose the academic field and work for educational institutions such as the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The federal government also employs accountants in a variety of settings; from Shilling Air Force Base to the Kansas office of the Department of Veterans Affairs located in Leavenworth. Accountants working for the VA are tasked with the important responsibility of managing funds that allocate money for veteran benefit programs.

Accounting Jobs in Kansas

Financial and investment companies such as Edward Jones and the US Ag Bank of the Farm Credit Bureau are located in Wichita. Depending on their position, accountants working in the banking industry do everything from creating financial reports and maintaining records, to advising clients on investment strategies.

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IT specialists with the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification granted through the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) work for IT companies like Wolters Kluwer, which has a presence in Wichita, where they provide consulting and special risk assessment services.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, located just across the boarder in Missouri, employs accountants with specialized certifications in forensic accounting that include Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and Chartered Bank Auditor (CBA) of the Bank Administration Institute.

Kansas Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

With the Kansas Economic Report from the state’s Department of Labor showing positive economic indicators after the agricultural slump of 2018, it’s a good time to be an accountant in Kansas. In fact, the state’s Department of Labor predicts the number of jobs to increase by 11.9% through 2026, which along with normal changes in the workforce will result in some 1,380 jobs each year during this time frame.

Even with major metro areas like Kansas City and Wichita serving as the hubs of business and industry in the state, and the places where the lion’s share of accounting jobs are concentrated, the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the state’s nonmetropolitan areas had a higher level of employment for accounting professionals than any other non-metro areas in the country.

Diverse industries in Kansas employ corporate staff accountants, internal and external auditors, controllers and other specialists. Major industries in the state range from aviation to agriculture to biomass production for biofuels and other renewable energy sources. Wichita is the aviation capital of the world, and as home to both Spirit Aerosystems and Cessna Aircraft, a full 43% of domestic general aviation components are produced in Wichita.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the median salary for an accountant in Kansas was $61,130 in 2018. Experienced professionals in the top ten percent earned an average of $102,260 that year. General classifications like these actually do little to attach salary potential to the many different specialized roles accountants fill or the credentials they hold so we turn to other sources for a more detailed look.

Salaries for Kansas Accounting Professionals in Specialized Roles

The 2019 Robert Half Accounting and Finance Salary Guide, however, is able to offer more insight into the kind of salaries that can be expected for different types of accounting positions in Kansas City. Ranges shown represent starting salaries for the 25th and 95th percentile in each category. The ranges reflect differences in specialized skills, experience and how different employers view the role in terms of the value it adds to the organization. These are base salaries that don’t reflect bonuses and other incentives that can add substantially to the figures shown here.

Corporate Staff Accountants

Accountants starting their careers in general corporate accounting roles earned between $38,192 and $68,944 a year. The midpoint salary for general accountants is $46,376, with the numbers at either end of that being heavily influenced by experience, firm size and credentials.

Forensic Accountants

Specialization virtually always brings higher salaries. Naturally, forensic accountants throughout the state often do even better than general accountants. In Kansas City they are offered starting salaries that fall between $75,392 and $143,592, and a median of $91,264. In Topeka the range was $58,900 – $112,181 with a median of $71,300. And in Wichita the range was $61,636 – $117,392, with a median of $74,612.

Corporate Controllers

Financial sector positions can also be lucrative, especially for the professionals that ensure firms maintain the strict level of regulatory compliance required in the industry. In Kansas City, controllers at financial services firms earned salaries within the range of $105,400 to $199,888.

Public Accountants and External Auditors

CPAs with the experience required to fill director-level positions in major audit and assurance firms in Kansas City are offered salaries of $130,200 at the midpoint, and as much as $207,080 at the 95th.

CPA licensing is pretty common at that level, and highly recommended for public accountants working their way up the ladder as experts in either tax or assurance services.

Assurance/Audit Services:

  • Management – $73,904 – $141,360
  • Senior – $52,824 – $100,688
  • 1-3 years experience – $43,152 – $82,088

Tax Services:

  • Management – $85,560 – $162,936
  • Senior – $60,016 – $112,096
  • 1-3 years experience – $47,368 – $90,768

Accountants in Executive Positions

The highest salaries for accountants in Kansas City were reserved for Chief Financial Officers who typically have a CPA license and many years of corporate and management accounting experience. CFOs in Kansas City earned salaries between $120,280 and $493,272.

Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in Urban and Rural Areas of Kansas

A detailed salary breakdown from the U.S. Department of Labor indicated that general accountants and auditors in Wichita had the highest median salary in 2018. Accountants and auditors in the 90th percentile of this occupational category earned some of the highest salaries in Lawrence and the nonmetropolitan area of Kansas:

Area Name
Annual Mean Wage
Kansas nonmetropolitan area

(This broad classification includes accounting professionals in different areas of specialty, with different credentials, and with varying levels of experience.)

Tax Preparer Salaries in Wichita and the Kansas Nonmetropolitan Area

Tax preparers in Wichita earned higher salaries than their colleagues in the nonmetropolitan areas of Kansas in 2018 according to the US Department of Labor.

Area Name
Annual Mean Wage
Kansas nonmetropolitan area

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. 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 accessed May 2019.

Salary data for specific job titles accessed from the Robert Half 2019 Accounting & Finance Salary Guide – figures represent starting salaries within the 25th – 95th percentile range 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 Vermont Department of Labor and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database –