SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Finding an accountant to take care of tax returns or everyday financial issues is becoming a bit of a challenge in Siouxland.

It’s due to an ongoing shortage of accountants. Western Iowa Tech Community College (WITCC) welcomed State Auditor Rob Sand to their campus Tuesday to announce their new hiring initiative for graduates with Associate’s degrees in accounting.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the number of accountants and auditors employed dropped 17% from 2019 to 2021.

“There’s fewer people available to do the oversight necessary to make sure that their tax paying dollars are getting spent responsibly. We want to make sure that we can get that oversight done, we want to make sure that we have enough people in the office to make sure we can do that,” said Rob Sand, Iowa’s State Auditor.

Auditor Rob Sand said the shortage is affecting his office, but the state recently changed requirements for state-level accountants. Now applicants only need an Associate’s degree in accounting, instead of a four-year degree.

Not only are state offices experiencing a shortage of accounting professionals, but private local firms as well. Mark Shecet, part owner of Ely, Ely & Shecet, LLC said many newcomers don’t realize how intimidating the workload can be.

“The field is constantly changing. Tax law and tax preparation is getting more complicated. year over year as the congress changes rules and redoes rules. It’s also pretty intensive for time in certain parts of the year,” said Shecet.

While the workforce might be low at the moment, Briar Cliff University has seen a steady increase in people joining their accounting program since 2019. Assistant professor Paul Santos said due to the increase in job openings, he’s seen plenty of students out of high school interested in the field of work.

“Some of them clearly come in saying, I’m gonna study accounting because they know someone who does that and they’re doing really in their life, or they’ve done their research and decided that looks like something I’d be good at that could be a well paying job,” said Santos.

Experts predict that there will be more than 130,000 jobs available for accountants and auditors every year for the next decade, meaning the field will offer a stable career for many students.