A State By State Accounting Guide
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Steps to Becoming an Accountant in North Dakota

The North Dakota Workforce Intelligence Network expects the number of accounting and auditing jobs in the state to grow by 19.2 percent between 2012 and 2022. When businesses expand, they inevitably create more jobs in accountancy, which means that North Dakota’s unsurpassed economic growth plays a role in expanding the state’s accounting industry. USAToday explains that in 2012, while the United States economy grew by 1.9 percent, the North Dakota economy grew by nearly 10 percent.

North Dakota is growing, in part, due to the fact that is it one of the top five states in the nation for mining, which includes oil, natural gas, and coal production.

CPAs working in the state are regulated by the North Dakota State Board of Accountancy, which requires candidates to earn 150 semester hours of college credit and a bachelor’s degree at minimum, as well as passing scores on the Uniform CPA Exam and a year of professional accounting experience prior to licensure. Since most bachelor’s programs consist of approximately 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting provides the perfect path to earning the 30 additional credit hours required for a CPA license in North Dakota. Although none of the “Big Four” international accounting firms have offices in North Dakota, other major national and regional firms do. CPAs work with Eide Bailly LLP, one of the top 25 CPA firms in the nation, which has offices in Fargo and Bismarck. Software giant Microsoft has recently established an Executive Briefing Center in Fargo where the Microsoft Finance Operations team retains CPAs who work as controllers, auditors and management accountants.

Top Industries for Accountants in North Dakota

North Dakota’s top industries, as of 2015, were agriculture, tourism, coal and coal gasification, oil and gas, and renewable energy, according to the North Dakota Department of Commerce.

North Dakota is a prime exporter of agricultural products, ranking first in the production of flaxseed, canola, durum wheat, all edible dry beans, all dry peas, spring wheat, honey, lentils, sunflowers, barley and oats. Along with that, the state produces beef, dairy cattle, and hogs, and 526 million pounds of milk per year, making milk production the second largest industry in North Dakota. Environmental auditors work for the state office of the USDA Farm Service Agency and the Dairy Extension of North Dakota State University, both in Fargo, to help mitigate the environmental affects of large-scale dairy farming.

Next to the production of food is the state’s tourism industry, which brought in about $4.6 billion in 2010 alone. With over 16 million visitors coming to the state to experience places like Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Fargo, which has over 70,000 acres of canyons and hiking trails, tourism generated $760 million in wages in the state in 2010 alone. Auditors, accountants and financial controllers in this industry are found working with national parks, such as Theodore Roosevelt, trails, the Maah Daah Hey Trail, and the Chateau de Mores State Historic Site.

North Dakota Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

Accountants in North Dakota enjoy high salaries and strong job prospects thanks to recent economic growth in the state. The North Dakota Job Service predicts a massive 21% increase in the number of accounting jobs in the state between 2010 and 2020.

This is due largely to the recent surge in oil exports from the state, which necessitates the expertise of skilled accountants and auditors to navigate an increasingly complex corporate tax environment. This growing demand for experienced and properly credentialed managerial accountants, controllers, and auditors has resulted in higher starting salary offers as companies compete for top talent

According to salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants in Bismarck, North Dakota earned an annual median salary of $56,900 in 2014, while those in Fargo earned $56,840 on average.

Accounting professionals in North Dakota with CPA licenses generally earn much higher salaries. Grand Forks based accountants in the 90th percentile earned an average salary of $76,340 in 2014.

The Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance showed that forensic accountants in Fargo made up to $95,988 a year. Internal auditors for midsized Fargo-based companies earned an average salary of $72,421, while CFOs, which more often than not held CPA licenses, earned an average of $126,011 a year statewide.

Accounting Salaries in North Dakota’s Cities and Non-Metro Areas

Accounting professionals in North Dakota with CPA licenses generally earn much higher salaries. Grand Forks based accountants in the top 10 percent brought home an average salary of $76,340.  

The table below contains 2014 BLS data for accountants and auditors in North Dakota’s metropolitan/nonmetropolitan areas:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Bismarck ND
Fargo ND-MN
Grand Forks ND-MN
Far Western North Dakota nonmetropolitan area
West Central North Dakota nonmetropolitan area
East Central North Dakota nonmetropolitan area
Far Eastern North Dakota nonmetropolitan area

Salaries for Tax Preparers Throughout North Dakota

The annual mean salary of tax preparers in North Dakota was $52,530. With experience and the right clients, these professionals can earn as much as accountants in the state. The average among the top 10 percent was $79,390 in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The table below shows 2014 employment and salary data for tax preparers in North Dakota as reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Fargo ND-MN
Grand Forks ND-MN

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2014. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing.

North Dakota Tax Laws in the News

A House Bill recently signed into law by North Dakota’s Governor Jack Dalrymple will reduce the state’s corporate income tax by 20 percent and reduces property tax by up to 19 percent. North Dakota, unlike most states, has a budget surplus, and is using part of that surplus to make the state more attractive to business by offering these tax-based incentives.

In other news, the North Dakota Society of CPAs warned its members that the August 31 deadline for North Dakotans to participate in the IRS’ Offshore Voluntary Disclosure is nearing, and that there are tens of thousands of state residents with unreported offshore accounts affected by this deadline. Failing to file the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) is a felony. If North Dakota CPAs have clients to whom this applies, they are advised to start the filing process immediately, as it involves complex paperwork.