How to Become a CPA in Utah

Becoming a CPA in Utah is like most things in Utah, all about dedication and hard work. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, major industries of Utah include cattle ranching, mining, salt mining and production, and government services. Unique to Utah is the history of being settled by a religious order people who were fleeing persecution from their own country. The Mormons of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints fled west from New York and then Chicago to settle in a place where they could practice religion and the tenants of plural marriage or polygamy without fear of reprisal from the U.S. government. The result of this state genesis, Utah to this day has Mormon influence over almost everything in Utah.

The Buzzing Economy of Utah

The model for how Utah would function as a state was modeled after the hardworking example of the honey bee. The imagery of the beehive is depicted on all state symbols and has come to mean industriousness, a Mormon philosophical trait. The industry that comes from this concept makes a bit impact on the world, as Utah is the leading manufacturer of many goods and products globally. Computer and electronics products are Utah’s biggest market, especially microchip, digital storage equipment, communication equipment, and scientific instruments. Utah also produces metals used in manufacturing, like steel, aluminum, and copper from natural materials in the unique red striated sandstone Earth.

Accounting Education in Utah

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is responsible for exemplary business school accreditation around the world. For schools that earn it, an AACSB accreditation means faculty, students, and programming is all assured to be top-notch. There are only three schools in Utah that hold this accreditation. These are Brigham Young University and the Marriott School of Management, Utah State University and the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, and  Weber State University with their business school.

For those accounting students who are interested in a long-term career in business, with the opportunity to network with professionals in their field, and even in some cases to travel abroad to gain international business experience, an AACSB accredited program can be the perfect match. Most of the nations top CEOs have attended business schools that are AACSB accredited. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, CPAs in Utah are expected to grow by hundreds of jobs by the year 2026.

Earning a CPA License in Utah

Students in Utah who are studying for the CPA should have the number 150 in their head. This is the number of credit hours an applicant must have completed in Utah before they are able to sit for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Uniform CPA Exam. For many students, this means obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Business and following that up with an advanced certificate in accounting, or a master’s degree in business or accounting. Utah accounting majors must take at least one class or 4 credit hours in ethics. After the completion of the educational hours, the soon-to-be accountant must work on their experience in the field. Recent graduates have all the skills and credentials to begin work as a bookkeeper or clerk in an accounting firm or private practice. In order to earn 2,000 hours, or 1 year of full-time experience in accounting in order to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam, this experience must be under the direct supervision of a licensed CPA. The experience can be in the area of academia, government, public practice, or private sector.

The four E’s of accounting include the education, ethics, exam, and experience. As mentioned above, the order that these come in is not as important as that they are all handled with supervision.

Keeping Up With the Latest in Accounting

Just like with any professional field, practitioners must keep their knowledge up to date or they stop being useful to the client and stop contributing to the field. In accounting, CPAs do this by having a set number of Continued Professional Education hours they must complete each year. Just like anything you want to do well, CPE allows CPAs to keep up with market trends, changing laws, and time-saving technology. It also encourages networking with others in the field. In Utah, CPAs are required to complete 80 hours of CPE every two years. The reporting must be completed by New Year’s Eve on the even-numbered years. Unique to Utah, the license renewal period is the same as the reporting deadline.

Utah also has an ethics requirement built into the CPE requirement each year. One hour of this ethics requirement must cover the very specific Utah CPA Licensing Act and CPA Licensing Act Rule, which is updated and important for Utah CPAs to stay abreast of. Three hours must be focused on either the AICPA Professional Code of Conduct, case-based instruction with anecdotal problem-solving in ethical dilemmas faced by accounting professionals, or business ethics. Utah CPAs who are teachers cannot earn more than half of their CPE credit through instruction, and cannot receive more than 25% of their CPE credit through prepping and writing publications in accounting. Instructors, discussion leaders, or speakers who present a learning activity for the first time should receive CPE credit for actual preparation time up to two times the number of CPE credits to which participants would be entitled, in addition to the time for the presentation. For those CPAs who are going back to school for more accounting education, one semester hour equals 15 CPE hours.

Highest Salaries for Utah Accountants

The website Glassdoor crowdsources current salaries in almost every industry and presents their findings based on location. As of September 2018, the average base pay entry-level accountant in Utah’s highest salary city – Salt Lake City, is reported at just about $60,000 per year. When you figure in the additional perks and cash compensations, you’ll find it closer to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) salary data ($73,490) in our table graph below. Accounting Managers or Accountant positions requiring with advanced graduate degrees can expect salaries in much higher ranges. For example, Salt Lake City Accounting Managers are bringing in $83,500 annually and Accounting Directors with are reporting $123,000 per year base pay.

 

A Tale of a Successful Utah Accountant

Because of the relatively high concentration of Mormons in Utah, it is not at all surprising that many companies in the State are owned and operated by Mormons. As a religious majority, the laws that govern the church often become the practices that govern business. Some of the most successful Utah Accountants were brought up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. An example is in Jim Quigley who became the global CEO of Deloitte, the largest professional accounting and consulting services company in the world. In 2011, his last year as CEO, he had more than 180,000 employees in more than 150 countries. That same year, they produced the then-record of $28.8 billion in revenues. He has since written a book called “The Mormon Way of Doing Business”. He is still in senior leadership at Deloitte, and advises with firms and at conferences in Utah regularly. In 2017, Deloitte climbed even higher and earned $38.8 billion and had approximately 263,900 employees (the largest among the Big 4) clearly demonstrating distinction in their abilities to serve clients worldwide with risk management, auditing, financial advising, consulting, and tax services.