Missouri is a regional hub for financial services, and St. Louis has been a particular bright spot -- adding more than 10,000 financial jobs since 2007. Although the mix of major employers has remained relatively unchanged, they've grown steadily in size -- Edward Jones employs more than 5,000 people in the St. Louis region, Wells Fargo Advisors employs 5,300 and the brokerage and investment firm, Stifel, has doubled its number of employees in St. Louis in the past 8 years. In addition to financial services, Missouri has a diverse economy spread across industries ranging from healthcare to manufacturing, retail to aerospace.
Accounting is one of the core professions within the financial services space, a profession employing nearly 60,000 individuals as accountants, bookkeepers, auditors and accounting clerks in the state, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The accounting profession employs 8.75 individuals per 1,000 jobs in Missouri, the 19th best ratio in the country. Accountants, auditors and bookkeepers play a central role in the financial services industry and, with that industry growing in Missouri, prospective students should have a variety of opportunities after completing an accounting degree or training program.
Accounting Programs in Missouri
Although it may not seem like it, accounting is a diverse field of study. In Missouri, accounting schools and programs offer an array of academic concentrations and specializations.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the most common subject areas include accounting, accounting technology, accounting and computer science, accounting and business management and accounting and related services. Below is a list of the number of available accounting programs by educational level in Missouri:
- Certificate: 16 programs
- Associate degree: 27 programs
- Bachelor's degree: 40 programs
- Graduate degrees: 14 programs
The bachelor's degree is the most popular accounting program of study in Missouri, outpacing the master's degree by nearly 1,000 students.
|Degree Type||Number of Degrees Conferred|
|Award of at least 1 but less than 2 academic years||53|
|Award of less than 1 academic year||14|
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2013
At program level, general accounting is the most commonly pursued area of study, followed by accounting technology and bookkeeping, and accounting and business management. Below are two tables of 2013 NCES graduation data for Missouri accounting programs:
|Area of Study||Degrees Conferred|
|Accounting Technology/Technician and Bookkeeping||182|
|Accounting and Business/Management||99|
|Accounting and Finance||33|
|Accounting and Related Services, Other||23|
|Accounting and Computer Science||1|
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2013
Within the accounting education space, the University of Missouri has a nationally recognized program, one that's been routinely ranked among the best in the country. In 2014, the annual Public Accounting Report from Wolters Kluwer ranked the University's programs in the top 20 at every level: Undergraduate (#15), Master's (#12) and Doctoral (#20). Along with the University of Missouri, other business schools in the state have garnered accolades, including Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis University. Both of those universities had their undergraduate business programs named as some of the best in 2013 by Bloomberg.
Based on the number of accounting degrees conferred, the top accounting schools in Missouri include the University of Missouri, Columbia College and Missouri State University. Below is a table of the most recent graduation data from the NCES for accounting degrees conferred in 2013:
|Institution||Number of Accounting Degrees|
|University of Missouri-Columbia||270|
|Missouri State University-Springfield||233|
|University of Missouri-St Louis||119|
|Truman State University||115|
Career Opportunities for Accounting Graduates in Missouri
As part of the state's diverse and emerging financial services industry, accounting has a strong presence in metropolitan areas across Missouri. Each of the so-called "Big Four" public accounting firms -- Ernst & Young, PricewatershouseCooopers (PwC), Deloitte, and KPMG -- have offices in the state. Other firms in Missouri include BKD, RubinBrown LLP, Anders, UHY, Williams Keepers, LLC, Grant Thornton and more.
In fact, nearly 1,500 individuals are employed locally as Certified Public Accountants in the greater St. Louis region. The top five employers, according to the St. Louis Business Journal include the following:
- PwC: 357
- RubinBrown LLP: 351
- Ernst & Young: 331
- KPMG: 258
- CliftonLarsonAllen LLP: 188
Although accounting, specifically public accounting, is widely considered the traditional career path, students may also look to pursue other accounting-related positions, including payroll clerk, bookkeeper, financial analyst, and more. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data shows median annual salaries for accountants and auditors in Missouri ranges from $33,560 to upwards of $105,080, and $20,420 to at least $53,020 for the top earners working as bookkeepers or accounting clerks. Below is an occupational table with 2014 BLS employment and salary data for the primary accounting profession in Missouri:
|Occupation||Total Employed||Average Salary||Projected Employment Growth|
|Accountants and Auditors||22,950||$69,160||12.7%|
|Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks||31,270||$36,090||8.7%|
At the local level, the top employing areas for accountants, auditors, and bookkeepers in Missouri include St. Louis (14,930 employees), Kansas City (11,780), Springfield (2,070) and Jefferson City (1,610).
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Missouri, May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mo.htm
Projections Central, Missouri, Projectioncentral.com
College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, 2013, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Top 50 Employers in Missouri, http://www.missourieconomy.org/industry/top50/index.stm
St. Louis Today, Financial jobs are a surprising strength for St. Louis, 2014, http://www.stltoday.com/business/columns/david-nicklaus/nicklaus-financial-jobs-are-a-surprising-strength-for-st-louis/article_521a9259-a462-5426-b809-e42f4a7548e5.html
Wolters Kluwe, Public Accounting Report, 2014, https://www.cob.unt.edu/acct/2014%20PAR%20Rankings.pdf
Bloomberg, Best Undergraduate Business Schools by Speciality, 2013, http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2013-06-24/the-best-undergraduate-business-schools-by-specialty-2013
St. Louis Business Journal, The List: Largest Accounting Firms-CPAs, http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/subscriber-only/2014/02/28/accounting-firms-cpas-2014.html