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

According to the South Dakota Department of Labor, there is a high demand for accountants in the state in the current ten-year period ending 2022. Between 2012 and 2022, the Department expects the number of accounting jobs to grow by 8.7 percent.

The South Dakota Board of Accountancy licenses and regulates the practice of certified public accounting. The requirements for those interested in becoming CPAs includes a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours of college credit, passing scores on the Uniform CPA Exam, and one year of professional accounting experience. While satisfying the experience requirement, aspiring CPAs often begin working to earn a master’s degree in accounting to earn the full 150 semester hours required for a CPA license, as most bachelor’s programs only result in 120 semester hours.

While none of the “Big Four” CPA firms hold offices in South Dakota, there are plenty of opportunities in other well known accounting and professional services firms, private industry, as well as for those interested in establishing independent practices. Financial advisory and investment firm, AXA Advisors, LLC, has offices in Sioux Falls; energy company, Black Hills Corporation, has its headquarters in Rapid City; and the regional branch office of international equipment trailer company, Terex Load King, are located in Elk Point. These companies are recognized as some of the leading private employers of accountants in the state.

There are many areas of specialty for CPAs and other accounting professionals interested in pursuing additional certification. Some work as forensic accountants investigating claims of fraud, while others find their niche as financial planners for companies like the multinational investment firm Edward Jones, which as an office in Rapid City.

South Dakota Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

In 2013, CNBC named South Dakota the number one state in the US for business, and has been in the top 10 almost every year since the news organization began the evaluation.

As a state that boasts lower regulations and little taxation on business related activities, business has been booming in the state, driving demand for managerial accountants, controllers, internal auditors and other accounting professionals. The 2013 CNBC report noted that 164 new accounting positions were opening annually.

Accountants in Rapid City earned $60,460 on average in 2014 based on information provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accounting professionals in South Dakota who earned in the 90th percentile made an average of $83950 in 2014. South Dakota’s accountants working in the state’s nonmetropolitan areas earned less, with the western nonmetropolitan area reporting an average of $56,490 a year for their accountants. Those working in urban environments tend to make more.

The Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance shows that accountants with CPA licensure tend to make substantially more than those who do not.

CPA licensed positions such as Chief Financial Officer pay impressive salaries. CFOs working for mid-sized companies in Sioux Falls and Rapid City earned $124,061 and $142,956 respectively on average. Sioux Falls-based CFOs in large corporations earned an average of $316,426 according to the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance.

Forensic accountants in Sioux Falls and Rapid City earned $76,494 and $66,384, respectively according to the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance.

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

The state average for accountants in South Dakota for 2014 was $60,000 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau’s 2014 report shows that the numbers differed considerably according to geographic location, with those in Sioux Falls and Rapid City earning up to $9,000 more than those in rural areas.

The table below shows data for accountants working in South Dakota as reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Rapid City SD
Sioux Falls SD
Central South Dakota nonmetropolitan area
Eastern South Dakota nonmetropolitan area
Western South Dakota nonmetropolitan area

Tax Preparer Salaries in South Dakota

Tax preparers in South Dakota averaged $38,950 in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Some of these professionals earned as much as accountants, with those in Rapid City within the 90th percentile earning $77,320 on average in 2014.

The table below shows employment and annual salary information for tax preparers in South Dakota for 2014 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics):

Area name
Annual mean wage
Rapid City SD
Sioux Falls SD
Eastern South Dakota nonmetropolitan area
Western South Dakota nonmetropolitan area

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.

South Dakota Tax Laws in the News

In a 2011 report issued by the Tax Foundation, a national tax research group based in Washington, D.C., South Dakota ranks first as the most tax-friendly state in which to conduct business. This report compares income tax, corporate tax, sales tax, property tax, and unemployment insurance tax codes in all 50 states to determine rankings. South Dakota charges no corporate taxes to businesses, nor does it have an individual state income tax. This lack of taxation has always made South Dakota an amazing place to establish and conduct business. 

Recently; however, there has been talk among state legislators about instituting new taxes. In the wake of state cuts to education funding and Medicaid reimbursement, a committee comprised of professionals from the fields of health care, education, and business has been formed to investigate tax options for generating revenue in the state. 

Fifteen thousand signatures from South Dakota residents would be necessary to petition for an initiated measure on the 2012 ballot to increase the taxes paid by businesses in the state. Signature drives are being staged around South Dakota, and all signatures must be in by November 2011 in order for the measure to be considered on the 2012 ballot.

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