Alaska's economy suffered along with the rest of the United States during the recession and has not yet fully recovered. Its unemployment rate of 7.2 percent (according to The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development in March 2017) is greater than the national average. However, the outlook for accountants in the state is rosier than the economy as a whole. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development predicts that the profession will grow 5 percent between 2014 and 2024, to about 1,814 practitioners statewide.
As of May 2016, the median wage for accountants in Alaska is $82,181 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Experienced accountants in the top 10% earn an average of $122,075 while entry-level accountants average $51,750.
Alaska's economy has traditionally rested on its natural resources. Fishing, lumber and mining remain pillars of the gross state product and top employers in these sectors include Trident Seafood and CH2M Hill. In the last few decades, energy has played a greater role in the economy through both petroleum production and natural gas; BP and ASR Energy are two of many companies hiring in this sector. Healthcare and tourism also contribute a healthy chunk to the economy; Providence Health and Alaska Airline rank among the state's top employers. KPMG is the only one of the 'Big Four' firms with offices in the state, though firms like Thomas Head Greisen and Swalling & Associates are joined by a number of tier two firms (those right below the Big Four) such as Grant Thornton.
To enter the accounting field in Alaska as a licensed certified public accountant (CPA) you first need to complete 150 semester hours and earn a bachelor's degree in an accounting concentration, as well as have two years' experience in public accounting. You then need to pass both the four-part CPA examination and the current AICPA ethics examination.
Getting involved with advocacy initiatives relevant to the accounting field, taking continuing education courses and networking among peers can all benefit your accounting career. The Alaska Society of CPAs (http://www.akcpa.org) offers many opportunities to get involved, and the Institute of Management Accountants' Pacific Northwest Council (http://www.ima-pnc.org) has Alaska chapters that offer similar benefits to certified management accountants (CMAs).