Kentucky's economy is rooted historically in agriculture, and today the state remains a major producer of important crops like corn and tobacco. Technological developments in the 20th centuries helped the state economy expand significantly, and industries including energy fuel production, medical care and research, auto manufacturing, and coal and uranium production all play an important role in the state GDP. Kentucky employs around 10,000 auditors and accountants, which is proportionately below the national average, but the state is also expected to expand available CPA positions from 2016 to 2026, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting an 9.6% increase. Five Fortune 500 companies and 626 licensed CPA firms call the state of Kentucky home. For CPAs seeking jobs, all the “Big Four” international CPA firms (Deloitte & Touche, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Ernst & Young) have offices in downtown Louisville, which serves as the state's financial center.

Kentucky at a glance

Population 4,454,189
Per Capita Income $23,684
Unemployment Rate 4.5%
Fortune 500 Companies 5
Licensed CPA Firms 626

Accounting Programs in Kentucky

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

Accounting Salaries and Employment

The BLS projects a solid 10.2% growth in the number of positions for Kentucky's accountants and auditors between 2012 and 2022, just 2.9% less than the projected national growth rate. This will result in a total of 11,130 potential jobs in the accounting field, ranging from bookkeeping and tax examining to budget analysts and financial managers.

The average annual wage for these positions also span a wide range, starting at $34,670 and going as high as $96,160. Top-paying cities for accountants, where salaries are typically between $50,000 and $70,000 are Lexington-Fayette, Owensboro, Elizabethtown, Louisville and Bowling Green. Located in Louisville and Lexington are two of major regional firms; Mountjoy Chilton Medley and Dean Dorton Allen Ford, respectively.

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

10,970 Employees2016
12,780 Employees2026
Kentucky 14.2% 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

Kentucky Avg. Annual Wage United States Avg. Annual Wage

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

\ $37,180

Payroll Clerks

\ $40,390

Credit Counselors

\ $42,850

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

\ $62,460

Tax Examiners and Collectors

\ $48,160

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

\ $65,840

Budget Analysts

\ $56,540

Personal Financial Advisors

\ $91,760

Financial Managers

\ $115,140
Source: BLS OES - Industry Profile

Top-paying cities for accountants

  1. Owensboro
  2. Louisville/Jefferson County
  3. Lexington-Fayette
  4. Bowling Green
  5. South Central Kentucky nonmetropolitan area
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Major firms headquartered in Kentucky

Count Firm Location 2014 Revenue (in millions)
1 Mountjoy Chilton Medley Louisville, KY $39
2 Dean Dorton Allen Ford Lexington, KY $21

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 Kentucky

Individuals seeking to become a certified public accountant in Kentucky must file an initial application with the Kentucky Board of Accountancy prior to applying for the Uniform CPA Exam. Candidates are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the website where they will find a tutorial, practice exam and The Candidate Bulletin.

Any who have already submitted an initial application and wish to sit for additional sections of the exam should complete the Re-Exam Application for the Uniform CPA Exam form. Those who have passed the exam as a candidate in another state should refer to the work experiment requirements and the computer-based exam guidelines.

Eligibility for CPA Licensure in Kentucky

To be eligible to sit for the CPA Exam in Kentucky, candidates must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a Social Security Number
  • Hold a bachelor's or master's degree with a concentration in accounting (meaning 39 credits in business-related subjects and 27 credit hours of accounting courses)
  • Meet the 150 credit hour education requirement
  • Complete 1 year of experience in an accounting or auditing position

A score of at least 75 on each section is required to pass the exam, and each passing score is valid for 18 months from the end of the month the section was taken. All four sections must be passed within 18 months of the initial testing date.

Age Requirement 18
Citizenship Requirement No
Residency Requirement No
Social Security # Requirement Yes
Education Requirement for Licensure Bachelor's degree (150 hours)
Participates in International Programs No
Hours in Accounting 27 semester hours
Exam Sitting Requirements 120 hours
Experience Requirements 1 year of accounting experience
Ethics Exam N/A

Actively licensed CPAs from a jurisdiction outside of Kentucky may obtain mobility by reviewing the Licensing for Out-of-State CPAs page.

Source: The American Institute of CPAs

CPA exam fees in Kentucky

  • Application Fee $150
  • Auditing & Attestation $208
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting $208
  • Regulation $208
  • Business Environment & Concepts $208

Special Fees: Candidates must pay fees to AICPA, NASBA, and Prometric, which NASBA will collect on behalf of all three.

Certifying and Professional Organizations

The Kentucky Board of Accountancy is a state agency responsible for licensing and regulating CPAs and CPA firms in the state.

Upon certification, CPAs can apply for membership to the Society of CPAs, which is a non-profit statewide organization committed to serving its members by way of networking opportunities, providing health care and membership benefits, protecting the CPA reputation, legislative advocacy and providing access to information and tools.

Kentucky State Board of Accountancy


332 West Broadway Suite 310
Louisville, KY 40202

Phone Number

(502) 595-3037

Kentucky Society of CPAs


1735 Alliant Ave.
Louisville, KY 40299

Phone Number

(502) 266-5272