In the plus column: Accounting grads get jobs

The job market for accountants has been on an upswing and that’s welcome news for recent graduates.

Several large-scale CPA firms around the valley said jobs are likely waiting for students about to walk across the stage with master’s degrees in accounting.

William Wells, office managing partner at McGladrey LLP’s Las Vegas office, said the firm, which operates in 100 offices, has been in a “heavy growth mode.”

“We’re growing at double-digit percentages,” Wells said. “We are definitely in a hiring mode.”

In the past few months, Wells said, the firm has added 16 new hires who will start in October.

“I think overall there are more opportunities than there were a few years ago,” Wells said. “It still isn’t robust as people would like it to be, but I do believe we’re on an incline going up.”

The projected statistics support his sense of an uptick, and the future looks promising.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website, accounting jobs are expected to increase 13 percent over the next seven years.

Glenn Goodnough, CPA, partner and chairman at Stewart Archibald &Barney, LLP, said the firm’s growth has yielded new openings.

“Historically, we have hired both experienced as well as new staff,” Goodnough said,

The job market is good, but Goodnough, like others, said candidates have to have the requisite education to be considered. Many staff members at Stewart Archibald have master’s degrees.

But accountants with bachelor’s degrees also have a place.

“Other firms just looking for accountants would not require a masters,” said Douglas Winters, CPA and managing partner at Bradshaw, Smith &Co.

Winters said Bradshaw Smith is hiring. “It is up from previous years,” he added.

Jobs may be up, but wages are not growing as robustly as the job market.

“It’s probably staying about the same,” Winters said. “It might be creeping up a little bit.”

According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the average wage for accountants and auditors increased by less than a percent in 2014.

A far as starting wages, the estimates ranged from mid-$40,000s up to $60,000 per year, depending on the amount of education a candidate has.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the national average for wages for accountants and auditors, as of May 2014, was nearly $74,000. States such as New York and California were higher, and some specialty fields paid well closer to $90,000 per year, mostly in the security and commodity market.

But Wall Street isn’t the only specialties market for accountants. Wells said international specialties is another growth area.

“I think as things move forward more globally, and some of our cliental are reaching out for a more global reach, international specialties like international tax and some of those types of things are in more demand than they were a few years back,” Wells said.

And, Wells added, there are opportunities in cybersecurity given the many data breaches around the globe.

“There are some good opportunities in that area as well,” Wells said.

Winters pointed to audit and tax as a target area but added that there are firms looking for other specialized skills.

“They might have a finance degree to go along with their accounting, or (information technology) skills to go along with it,” Winters said.

Tech skills aren’t everything for winning that new job.

“The ability to learn is really the bigger issue; the ability to get into an industry, learn issues, work through issues,” Goodnough said. “We’re looking for foundation that’s been solidly acquired by a new graduate and the ability to add to it.”

Many firms are looking locally at University of Nevada, Las Vegas for candidates, or out of town to Southern Utah University and the University of Nevada, Reno and Brigham Young University.

Some firms are looking farther away.

“A lot of the firms will recruit in neighboring states,” Winters said. “Depending on wherever they have alumni in their firm, they may go to wherever they have alumni.”

Upward mobility is an important feature of any new job, and firms are not disappointing potential candidates in that area either.

“Because we’ve experienced fairly rapid growth, there’s a lot of good opportunity,” Wells said. “We’re growing and creating more space for people to have upward mobility.”

Candidates may have the opportunity to stay in the Las Vegas Valley, but could also end up moving away to move upward with national firms.

“It’s a little bit of both,” Wells said. “We’ve created opportunities here locally for many of our high performers, but in other cases, if a better opportunity exists in another one of our offices, in those cases people contemplate transfers.”

There isa upward mobility in local firms, too.

“The prospects are strong for upward mobility because, again, our growth,” Goodnough said.

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