The State Board of Certified Public Accountants of Louisiana confers the status of Certified Public Accountant (CPA) upon qualified graduates who have completed at least 150 semester hours of college credit and one year of practical work experience and have achieved passing scores on the Uniform CPA Exam. 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 CPA licensure in Louisiana.
CPAs in Louisiana work for a broad variety of industries and corporations. Some of the most sought-after positions are within CPA firms with regional and even national reputations for excellence. Chief among these are “Big Four” international CPA firms PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG, all of which have offices in New Orleans.
One of the largest employers of government accountants in the state is the Office of Statewide Reporting and Accounting Policy in Baton Rouge. This office is responsible for managing financial information among all state agencies, including the Louisiana Department of State Civil Service and the Office of Planning and Budget, both also located in Baton Rouge.
A number of Fortune 500 companies also have a presence in Louisiana and are recognized as the state’s largest employers of corporate management accountants, financial controllers, internal auditors, and cost and capital accountants. Some of the most noteworthy include the power company Entergy in New Orleans, telecommunications company CenturyLink in Monroe, and engineering company The Shaw Group, located in Baton Rouge. Telecommunications giant Globalstar Inc. is headquartered in Covington, and specialty chemicals company Bercen, Inc. has its headquarters in Denham Springs. Insurance giants such as Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Company in Metairie and the Prudential Insurance Company of America in Lafayette rely not only on their management accountants and controllers to efficiently manage revenue to cost and output while adhering to internal controls but are also among the state’s biggest employers of actuarial accountants responsible for determining the probability of risk when developing insurance products and pricing plans.
Find out more about CPA requirements in our step-by-step guide on how to become a CPA in Louisiana.
Louisiana Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts
The Louisiana Workforce Commission considers the accounting profession to be so promising that it awarded it a five-star rating more than once in recent years—a designation that exemplifies occupations that have the best long-term outlook and wages in the state. The agency predicts an increase from 10,830 to 11,170 accountants and auditors between 2018 and 2028.
Louisiana is competitive at drawing manufacturers, thanks to its strong business climate, high quality workforce development program, access to national and international markets, and the many logistic benefits that come with the robust GIS-mapping technology used by state government. CenturyLink, Entergy, and Turner Industries are a few of the prominent companies headquartered in Louisiana and remain three of the chief employers of accountants and auditors in the state.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors in Louisiana earned a median salary of $62,190.
Salaries for Louisiana Accountants in Different Specialized Roles
The BLS also provides a good deal of insight into what accountants and auditors in the state are earning based on their job title, industry, experience, and more. Note that the following BLS numbers from May 2020 reveal base pay and do not account for other salary incentives, such as bonuses and stock options, which are often part of an accountant’s salary package, particularly among those in leadership and executive positions.
Corporate Staff Accountants, Bookkeepers, and Accounting Clerks
Corporate staff accountant, bookkeeper, and accounting clerk positions are ideal for accountants who are fairly new to the profession. Those with little experience earned about $31,010 in Louisiana as of May 2020, which represents the 25th percentile, while those at the median salary range (likely those with at least a handful of years of experience) earn about $37,400 here.
Seasoned corporate staff accountants and those holding managerial and other leadership positions tend to earn salaries that reflect the upper salary range (75th – 90th percentile), which in Louisiana is $45,990 – $54,940.
Forensic accounting has been exceptionally prominent in Louisiana. The state sought high-powered accountants in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to help audit the reconstruction and recovery funds allocated to Louisiana and make sure that they were properly dispersed. As expected, this type of specialized accounting role comes with strong salaries. In Louisiana, forensic accountants earned about $79,950 as of May 2020, which reflects the 75th percentile among Louisiana’s accountants and auditors.
In many larger cities, salaries tend to be even higher. For example, in Lake Charles, forensic accountants earn about $86,480, while those in Lafayette report an average salary of about $82,180.
Controllers and Other Financial Managers
With a prime position in corporate management, controllers enjoy salaries that start near the six-figure mark. Louisiana’s controllers and other financial managers earned a median salary of $100,520, according to May 2020 numbers from the BLS, while those at the upper end of salary scale (75th – 90th) earned between $135,290 and $192,590.
In large, metro areas like New Orleans, the median pay for these financial pros is even higher, at $107,050, while those in the 75th – 90th percentile earn $145,590 to more than $208,000.
CPAs and Auditors
The field of public accounting includes some of the most highly skilled professionals, including CPAs and auditors, who earn about $102,190, which represents the 90th percentile among the state’s accountants and auditors. Head to one of Louisiana’s larger metro areas, like New Orleans, and the average salary for CPAs and auditors is even higher, at about $108,820.
Accountants in Executive Roles
As expected, the top earners in the field of accounting hold senior-level management and executive positions. At the top of the food chain are CFOs, whose base salaries represent only a fraction of their total earning power.
At the median level, Louisiana’s accounting executives earn about $194,250, while those in the 75th percentile and above earn more than $208,000.
Accountant Salaries in the Major Metropolitan and Nonmetro Areas of Louisiana
While most accountants in Louisiana’s metro areas enjoy median salaries of about $60,000, those in the Monroe metro area earn some of the largest paychecks in the profession at the 90th percentile.
(This broad classification includes accounting professionals in different areas of specialty, with different credentials, and with varying levels of experience.)
Tax Preparer Salaries in Louisiana
New Orleans comes out as the clear winner for its pay of tax preparers, according to the BLS, posting a median salary that soars past other regions of the state by about $20,000.
May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job growth data for Accountants and Auditors, Financial Managers, Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks, and Chief Executives. Figures represent national data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed April 2021.
Job growth projections sourced from the Louisiana Workforce Commission and reported in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2018-2028) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm.