While Iowa is commonly perceived as an agricultural state, farming actually comprises a proportionally small section of its economy, with much of the state GDP coming from biotechnology, manufacturing, finance, and government services. Iowa's diverse economy has helped it handle the aftermath of the 2008 recession better than many other states, and unemployment has consistently remained below the national average. Continued economic growth accounts for the state's strong outlook on accounting jobs, which are expected to increase by 14.1% from 2016 to 2026—more that 4% higher than the national average. For those seeking accounting careers, Iowa is home to all four of the major CPA firms as well as the major local firm Honkamp Kreuger & Co.

Iowa at a glance

Population 3,145,711
Per Capita Income $28,361
Unemployment Rate 2.5%
Fortune 500 Companies 2
Licensed CPA Firms 483

Accounting Programs in Iowa

Search our comprehensive school directory to explore the accounting programs in Iowa, including campus-based, online and hybrid programs.

Accounting Salaries and Employment

Employment opportunities for Iowan accountants and auditors is expected to increase by 16.6% between 2012 and 2022; 3.5% more than the national percent change. This rapid growth would represent 15,540 employed accountants earning between $32,790 and $107,640 in less than ten years. As in any state, salaries depend upon an accountant's level of expertise and speciality.

Honkamp Krueger & Co., one of the top accounting firms based in Iowa, is headquartered in Dubuque and reported over $43.70 million in revenue last year alone. The average annual salary for accountants in Dubuque is $63,040. Other top-paying cities for Iowan accountants include Des Moines, Davenport, Iowa City and Waterloo-Cedar Falls.

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

9,930 Employees2016
14,810 Employees2026
Iowa 33% increase
1,397,700 Employees2016
1,537,600 Employees2026
United States 9.1% increase
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Accounting Salaries by Specialty

Iowa Avg. Annual Wage United States Avg. Annual Wage

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

\ $37,470

Payroll Clerks

\ $42,570

Credit Counselors

\ $40,280

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

\ $63,890

Tax Examiners and Collectors

\ $67,540

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

\ $66,500

Budget Analysts

\ $71,280

Personal Financial Advisors

\ $91,880

Financial Managers

\ $113,030
Source: BLS OES - Industry Profile

Top-paying cities for accountants

  1. Des Moines-West Des Moines
  2. Ames
  3. Southeast Iowa nonmetropolitan area
  4. Cedar Rapids
  5. Iowa City
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Major firms headquartered in Iowa

Count Firm Location 2014 Revenue (in millions)
1 Honkamp Krueger & Co. Dubuque, IA $52

Accounting Today named these firms among the highest performing in a multi-state region. Rankings as based upon reported net revenues from 2014. Source: Accounting Today, "Top 100 Firms and Regional Leaders"

Becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) in Iowa

CPA candidates in the state of Iowa sit for the Uniform CPA Exam administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Iowa is one of the jurisdictions that recognizes mobility legislature and licensure by reciprocity.

Since 2012, Iowa maintains an annual license renewal policy which mandates all CPAs and LPAs to renew their license by June 30th each year. Individuals whose licenses have become inactive may change their status to active by provided the board with proof of 120 hours of CPE completed within three years of their renewal application.

Eligibility for CPA Licensure in Iowa

Candidates seeking CPA licensure or certification must supply documentation that indicates the successful completion of the following:

  • An education requirement of 150 semester hours
  • A bachelor's degree or transcripts that indicate completion of the degree within 120 days of their application
  • Participate in an international program
  • Complete the AICPA Professional Ethics Exam for initial licensure
  • 1 year of employment experience including internships
  • 1 year of attest experience plus 1 year of general experience

The residency requirement was eliminated in 2002 due to the computerization of the exam. Students can prepare for the exam by participating in this tutorial. After successfully passing the test, individuals will receive an initial certificate from the Accountancy Board of Examiners.

Age Requirement N/A
Citizenship Requirement No
Residency Requirement No
Social Security # Requirement Yes
Education Requirement for Licensure Bachelor's degree (150 hours)
Participates in International Programs Yes
Hours in Accounting 24 semester hours
Exam Sitting Requirements 120 hours
Experience Requirements 1 year of accounting experience
Ethics Exam AICPA Ethics Exam

An accounting concentration must be obtained during the required 150 hours. A CPA Exam Aid exam prep course offered by the AICPA is available to help students prepare.

Source: The American Institute of CPAs

CPA exam fees in Iowa

  • Application Fee $145
  • Auditing & Attestation $208
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting $208
  • Regulation $208
  • Business Environment & Concepts $208

Special Fees: Registration fees for individual sections of the exam vary depending on the number of sections being taken: $115 for four sections, $100 for three sections, $85 for two sections, $70 for one section. All sections must be passed within 18 months of the initial test date. A re-examination application fee of $100 may apply.

Certifying and Professional Organizations

The Iowa Professional Licensing & Regulation Bureau is comprised of seven professional licensing boards including the Iowa Accountancy Examining Board, which is responsible for maintaining strict standards for licensure, certification and registration of CPAs as well as investigating complaints against accountants or firms.

The Accountancy Examination Board however does not administer a state-specific exam. Instead, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) administers the Uniform CPA Exam in Iowa.

After certification, CPAs can join the Iowa Society of CPAs, an association of 4,300 members dedicated to furthering the professional success of licensed and certified CPAs through networking and education.

Iowa Accountancy Examining Board


200 E. Grand Ave., Ste. 350
Des Moines, IA 50309

Phone Number

(515) 725-9021

Iowa Society of CPAs


1415 28th St., Ste. 450
West Des Moines, IA 50266

Phone Number

(515) 223-8161