How to become a CPA in Vermont

Vermont may look sleepy and quaint on the outside, but underneath, there’s a bustling, captivating region that has more than enough to keep a CPA busy. Between perfect summer weather and amazing snow sports in the long winters, Vermont’s draw for both tourists and entrepreneurs is easy to understand.

Understanding Vermont’s Economy

The state capital of Vermont, Montpelier, is the smallest state capital in the country. It is in this small town of fewer than 9 thousand people that the most maple syrup is produced in the country. Vermont has most dairy cows per capita of any state in the United States. This makes the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Corporation, Cabot Creamery and other dairy-dependent enterprises a no-brainer for making Vermont famous. Humans aren’t the only ones who appreciate this agricultural reality. Apparently, the excess product from Ben and Jerry’s production go into feeding the state’s hog farms. Agriculture in Vermont is very important as many of the state’s natural products go back into the economy of the state, supporting many farmers and local food productions.

Cows and Computers: Vermont’s Cornerstones

It may be hard to guess, but Dairy and Agriculture is not the largest economic driver in the state. The largest manufacturing export category is computer & electronic products, an industry which employs 12 thousand people statewide. IBM Products is the state’s largest employer. Savvy CPAs should have some background in computer exports and manufacturing if they hope to earn top dollar in accounting in Vermont. Since the Canadian border is a little over 100 miles from the capital, many of the state’s exports end up with our neighbors to the north. Knowledge of international export finances could benefit the Vermonter CPA as well. The Green Mountain State the second smallest state in the United States, with a population of only 623,657 people. Of these, the average per capita personal income was $51,114, close to national averages.

QUICK VERMONT FACTS

Source: BEA.gov Data

AACSB ACCOUNTING PROGRAMS IN VERMONT

The AACSB is a membership organization that has over 1,600 member organizations worldwide. They have been setting the standard for excellence in Business and Accounting education since 1916. They accredit over 800 educational programs worldwide and are one of the highest accomplishments a U.S. business school can work for.

With Vermont having such a small population, there are not many large resourced colleges or universities in the area. Because of this, there are also few program-specific accreditations around the state. More populated regions may see all of their private and state universities hold this prestigious business accreditation. However, in Vermont, there is only one AACSB Business Program. It is located at the University of Vermont (UVM) in one of the few populated areas of the state, the college town of Burlington. The last renewal of UVM’s accreditation was in 2013. They are on a 10-year renewal schedule. It is quite a commitment to excellence to earn and maintain a business accreditation with AACSB.

ACCOUNTING DEGREES IN VERMONT

Source: IPEDS

Certified Public Accountants are required to be some of the most skilled and detail oriented professionals in society. Without a very clear handle on the all of the right things to do, and perhaps more importantly, all of the things not to do, the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) must realize that the financial wellness of his or hers clients rest in their hands. In such a small state, the complications for individuals and small business in Vermont could take any form. It is imperative that Vermont Accountants be up to date with tax code changes and ready for any situation that may walk through the door. To become a Certified Public Accountant in Vermont, the national minimums are required, but that is not the end of the story. The VT State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners has a website describing many of the state-specific requirements that all Accounting majors should familiarize themselves with. In addition, they have several links to accounting laws and even provide forms to be downloaded and submitted.

Accounting Bachelor’s students are required to take 150 credit hours of undergraduate learning (including B.A./or B.S.  degree). This means that a typical 120-hour undergraduate degree is not quite enough to sit for the CPA exam. Students will need to find 30 more credit hours to meet the states certification requirement. This typically means about 10 more classes to take. Students can easily fulfill this CPA course requirement through an accounting certificate program at a community college or through distance learning. An additional requirement is that 42 of these semester hours (or equivalent quarter hours) must be taken in the areas of accounting, auditing, and related subjects. In order to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam, the applicant must have their B.A./B.S.  or be in a position to complete their B.A. or B.S. within 60 days of the test.

CPA LICENSURE IN VERMONT, STEPS TOWARD ELIGIBILITY

Source: Vermont Society of CPAs

After the 150 hours of study, 42 of which must be in accounting by Vermont standards, the Uniform CPA exam itself requires a 75% or better. There are four distinct parts of the test, Auditing & Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG), Business Environment & Concepts (BEC). These are aimed at determining the test taker’s acuity in the most important elements of the profession. Each section is weighted differently per test that is administered and students must receive an average of 75% when measured as a whole. After passing the uniform CPA exam, applicants must show 12 months of continuous experience being employed in a public accounting setting. This year must include 500 hours of attest, of which no less than 200 hours must be related to the audit function. Future CPA licensees must also complete a course of study in professional ethics for accountants that acceptable to the Vermont Board of Public Accountancy.

Source: BLS data

As for keeping the CPA License, the biannual renewal date is July 31, on odd years (2019, ‘21, ‘23 etc). The renewal consists of mainly maintaining active reporting of Continued Professional Education efforts. The CPE reporting period is from 8/1 to 7/31 (odd years), meaning that CPAs can report their progress at any time throughout the two years. They must complete 80 hours in those two years, and 4 of these hours must be specifically in ethics. Unique to Vermont, CPAs here must also complete 8 credit hours in Accounting and Auditing. Those CPAs who are also instructors of accounting can receive half credit for coursework they teach. Instructors can also receive quarter credit for the time they use to create educational publications in accounting. Credit for instructors means both presentation and preparation for CPAs in Vermont. Repeat instruction is only accepted if the material is substantially changed by the instructor. Vermont Board of Accountancy only accepts whole hours, not partial hour credits. One semester as a student in college or university equals hour equals 15 CPE hours.

BEST CITY IN VERMONT TO WORK AS AN ACCOUNTANT (BY SALARY)

You may not be rich as an Accountant in Vermont, but we guarantee you will be happy. Burlington, Vermont is home to the University of Vermont and is a vibrant, diverse city beautifully situated on Lake Champlain. Arts, culture and a growing economy, Burlington will not disappoint. The average Accountant makes $50,910 in base annual salary according to the crowdsource salary database, Payscale (August/2018).

Source: BLS data