Accountancy forms the backbone of commerce, government, and even computer systems. Accountants prepare and file tax documents, audit organizations, and can be vital to the operations of an IT department. For that reason, attaining the top accounting credential, a CPA license, is one of the most strenuous tasks in professional life. Each state has its own requirements for its CPAs and Utah is no different. Keep reading to learn the steps CPA candidates must take to become licensed by the Utah National Association of State Board of Accountancy.


Education

The bulk of your preparation for becoming a CPA will be the CPA test and licensure education. It's vital to put in long hours studying and make sure that you get the highest GPA possible. Not only do you need all of the information for the CPA exam, but your future employers may be interested in your class rank. Naturally, they will want an assurance that they are providing their clients with the best advice and service possible.

According to Utah's statutes and rules, CPA candidates must complete an undergraduate degree and complete a total of 150 credit hours (225 quarter hours.) The National Association of State Board of Accountancy emphasizes the importance of a graduate degree, or at least graduate coursework. That is, you should graduate with a master's degree in taxation or accounting. If you opt for a Master of Business Administration (MBA,) your coursework should include 24 credit hours in accounting that cover:

  • Financial public accounting
  • Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Management accounting

If you have a baccalaureate degree, you must complete the remaining 30 hours to satisfy the Board. All in all, your transcripts should reflect:

  • 16 credit hours in upper-level accounting coursework
  • 8 credit hours in graduate-level accounting courses
  • 12 credit hours in business-related coursework
  • 12 credit hours in graduate-level business or accounting courses
  • 10 credit hours in graduate or upper level accounting or business-related courses

Your business-related courses must include a minimum of 2 credit hours covering each of the following subjects:

Business law

Computer science

Economics

Ethics

Finance

Statistics and quantitative methods

Written and oral communications

Business administration courses such as:

  • Marketing
  • Production
  • Management
  • Policy
  • Organizational behavior
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Ensure a quality education

Not only must you complete all of the coursework required by the state boards of accountancy, but that coursework should be taken in credible programs. That is, your accounting program must be appropriately accredited in order for your credits to count. Check to make sure that you are studying in a program accredited by one of the following agencies:

  • Association of Advanced Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • New England Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges

If you completed your degree abroad, you may still apply for licensure in Utah. The state boards of accountancy needs assurance that your education meets domestic standards, however. Thus, you can have your credits evaluated and verified by either the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) or NASBA's International Evaluation Services. Keep in mind that, despite your degrees, you may still need to take a few courses in an accredited college or university.

Campus and Online Degree Options in Utah

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Associate Degree

A two-year associate degree is the perfect foundation for a budding career in the field. It's possible to land an entry-level position with this degree and then later return for a baccalaureate degree. Learn More

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Bachelor’s Degree

This is the degree most accountants choose. Many baccalaureate degree programs provide students with the option to delve into a specialty area and firms love to take on third- or fourth-year students as interns. A four-year degree also satisfies Utah's requirement for the CPA exam. Learn More

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Master’s Degree

Whether students enroll in a graduate program directly from their undergraduate program or if they wait until they've gained experience, a master's degree will open the floodgates of opportunity. In fact, a master's degree, such as a MS in Accountancy or an MBA, is virtually required for a position in the C-suites. Learn More

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Doctorate or PhD

While these degrees aren't so common in the business world, firms will love to have a doctoral level accountant on staff. The degree also lends itself well to those who are interested in teaching or creating policy. Learn More

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Online Degree Programs

More and more, accountants are earning their education via flexible, convenient online accounting degree programs. These programs also have the same quality and outcomes as any traditional on-campus program. Learn More

Utah's Examination Requirements

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As in every state, to become a certified public accountant CPA, Utah requires that CPA candidates pass all four parts of the Uniform CPA Exam as prepared by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA.) Becoming a CPA requires one of the most difficult professional examinations, so make sure you are fully prepared. In fact, the state boards of accountancy insists on it.

To help ensure that you have a background sufficient to pass the certified public accountant CPA exam, the Board requires that you complete at least 135 credit hours in accredited classrooms. You should be able to prove that you are enrolled in the remaining 15 you need to satisfy the full licensure requirement. The board does not include any requirements for your age or citizenship, nor is there a state residency requirement for operating as a CPA in Utah.

When your transcripts reflect that you have satisfied the education requirements for sitting for the CPA exam, you will need to register to sit for the CPA exam. You'll find an application at the CPA Exam Services website. If you prefer traditional mail, you can print, complete, and ship your application to:

CPA Exam Services-UT
P.O. Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219

You will need to pay all applicable fees with a credit card, however.

Once your application has been accepted, you will receive a Notice to Schedule. This indicates that you can schedule a day and time to sit for the CPA exam at the most convenient Prometric location. Consult the Prometric website for more, but they have Utah locations in the following towns:

  • Taylorsville
  • Lindon
  • Salt Lake City

After you take the first part of the test, you have 18 months to take, and pass, the remaining three exams. For that reason, you must be fully prepared prior to taking the first portion. It's advised that while becoming a CPA you devise a workable strategy that helps you prepare for each test without overwhelming yourself with all the information at once. The four parts of the CPA exam are:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD): 72 multiple-choice questions and 8 task-based simulations
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): 66 multiple-choice questions and 8 simulations
  • Business Environment and Concept (BEC): 62 multiple-choice questions, 4 simulations, and 3 written items
  • Regulation (REG): 76 multiple-choice questions and 8 task-based simulations

CPA Licensure Experience Requirements

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On top of the academic requirements, Utah needs assurances that you will perform work experience duties as a certified public accountant CPA to the utmost benefit of your clients or employers. There is no better way to test your knowledge and fortitude than in the field. Utah thus requires that you work for a minimum of one year under the direct supervision of a licensed certified public accountant CPA.

You must work full-time to gain work experience and complete a minimum of 2,000 hours of verified labor. The Utah state boards will accept any experience from any point in your education. Thus, you may work as an intern during your undergrad years, or even as a paid accountant at any time. However, you should be sure to take a close accounting of your time. Every hour you spend exercising your accounting or auditing skills should be noted.

Before you leave your position as an intern, make sure that you have sufficient work experience and your supervisor completes a Verification of Experience form, as available from the Board website, or via the Utah Association of Certified Public Accountants (UACPA.) The form must include a verification of your hours in accounting and will require your supervisor's signature and license number. If you spread the experience requirement over a number of different locations and contexts, make sure that each is accounted for on its own form.

Utah's Licensure Requirements

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Education

Make sure you consider the various ways in which you can become a Utah CPA. There are four different, if not dissimilar, academic pathways:

Graduate degree in Accounting

Graduate degree in Taxation

Master of Business Administration – including 24 credit hours of upper-level accounting courses

Master of Business Administration – including 15 graduate credit hours that include one of the following:

  • Financial accounting
  • Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Management Accounting
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Examination requirements

Prior to becoming a CPA, you need to sit for the CPA exam, you need a minimum of 135 credit hours of fully accredited coursework. The full requirement for your license is 150, so be prepared to show that you are enrolled for the remaining 15 hours. However, you might as well take the remaining time to prepare for the CPA exam. Keep in mind that each part has a pass rate around 50% and you must take and pass all four sections in 18 months or less.

CPA candidates can take the CPA exam in any order, so work on a successful strategy for taking the test. That is, you might save your most difficult tests for later, thus allowing yourself as much time as possible to study. Alternatively, you could take the more difficult parts first so that you can get a feel and then have enough time left to retake them, if needed.

There are hefty fees associated with the CPA exam, as well. The fee breakdown is as follows:

Application $145.00
Auditing and Attestation $193.45
Business Environment and Concepts $173.60
Regulation $173.60
Financial Accounting and Reporting $193.45
Total Cost: $879.10
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Experience

You must complete, and account for, 2,000 hours (one year) of accounting experience. This time must be noted on the appropriate page of your application, and be accompanied by your supervisor's signature and CPA license number. You may accrue this time throughout your academic career. Note that if you have multiple employers during this time, each must complete an individual copy of the form.

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Ethics examination

The association of state boards also requires that you complete the AICPA's ethics course and pass the ethics exam. This is a self-study, open-book course and exam. You may purchase a copy of the course from the UACPA or you might elect to order it directly from the AICPA. The AICPA website offers the option of taking the course online, which many find more expedient.

Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Standards

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Once you pass the cpa exam and have attained the distinct honor of holding a CPA license in Utah, you must continue to maintain and develop your professional knowledge with CPE hours. These hours are accounted for on a biennial basis, but you will have no such requirements during your first licensure period.

For your second, and all ensuing, licensure period, you are required to complete 80 CPE hours. In those hours, you must include the following:

One hour of time studying the Utah Certified Public Accountant Licensing Act and Certified Public Accountant Licensing Act Rule

Three hours of ethics instruction, including at least one of the following areas:

  • AICPA Code of Professional Conduct
  • Case-based, real-life situations
  • Ethical dilemmas that confront CPAs
  • Business ethics

How you earn the remainder of your CPE hours are largely up to you. The state boards does require that your courses remain pertinent to the practice of accounting, but you do not need to restrict yourself to your own area(s) of specialty. For instance, you can choose courses that cover any of the following, provided that a valid CPE outlet sponsors them. Professional associations or accredited colleges and universities are frequently vendors of these courses. Consider:

  • Accounting
  • Assurance
  • Consulting
  • Management
  • Taxation
  • Ethics
  • Management advisory services
  • Information technology – including computer programming
  • Communications
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Probability
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Economics
  • Human relations
  • Industry-specific coursework such as: film industry finance, manufacturing, farming, or real estate

To complete your CPE requirements, you can take courses online or some form of independent study. Many fulfill their CPEs through attending conferences or seminars. You can also receive CPE credit through writing and publishing profession-specific articles or books. An independent party must review your written work and you may only claim credit upon publication and may not exceed 25% of your CPE requirement.

The road to becoming a CPA is long and arduous. The license is one of the most difficult professional credentials to attain and maintain. However, it is worth it. Your work will help any number of businesses, individuals, or even governmental agencies to grow and thrive. Many business owners and managers don't make any decision without first consulting their certified public accountant CPA. That'll be you as soon as you pass the CPA exam! Congratulations.

Accountant Career Concentrations & Salaries in Utah

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Government and Non-Profit Accounting

This specialty area stands apart from the rest because neither government agencies nor non-profit organizations are required to pay taxes. However, each organization has its own unique budgetary requirements. Further, non-profits still must file financial reports with the government to prove that they are in compliance with the regulations that govern their tax status. Learn More

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Management Accountancy

Professionals in these positions conduct special audits for their employers or clients. The goal is to generate reports that are only used in-house. Accountants are asked to help firms isolate inefficiencies and other problems. Learn More

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Environmental Accounting

This area is growing more popular as states are providing tax rebates and discounts for green initiatives. Accountants who are interested in issues related to climate change investigate new pollution-controlling technologies as well as energy-saving measures with the goal of improving the overall bottom line. Learn More

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Showbiz Accountancy

While accountants are stereotyped as being linear, button-down individuals, some are intrigued by the world of entertainment. With this specialty, accountants might work on teams that help keep films or other productions within budgetary constraints. They can also work as personal accountants for producers, directors, and even celebrities whose earnings come from residual payments, box office tallies, and other sources.

Utah has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the nation. It also offers great earning opportunities for its accountants. The state's economy is in a great period of growth and development, so the accounting profession will see a 28 percent rate of growth between 2012 and 2022, according to state's Department of Workforce Services. If you're in Salt Lake City, and put three years in at a large firm, you could earn up to $88,628. Your earnings rise even higher if you specialize in a field like forensics, which can pay up to $112,615 in Salt Lake City. CFOs almost always top the salary charts and their earnings are known to rise as far as $277,750 in Utah.

City Annual Median Wage
Logan $61,570
Ogden $70,630
Provo $66,160
St. George $56,880
Salt Lake City $70,480
Annual Mean Wage 10th Percentile 25th percentile 50th percentile 75th percentile 90th percentile
$70,640 $39,150 $48,360 $62,890 $84,050 $105,090

Utah Accounting Frequently Asked Questions

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What are some career options for a Utah accounting student?

A Utah accounting student who completes their bachelor's degree can start a career as a junior accountant in their chosen specialty field. A bachelor's degree is also a requirement for a Utah certified public accountant CPA license, provided that the candidate's transcript reflects the appropriate number of semester hours.

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Are there online accounting degree programs available for Utah students?

Yes. Utah accounting students can pursue a variety of accounting courses and degrees online. There are several Utah colleges and universities that offer online accounting degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, and master's level. In fact, Southern Utah University offers an AACSB-accredited accounting bachelor’s degree program.

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How much does a Utah accountant make in a year?

The 10,000 accountants and auditors in Utah generally do quite well, especially considering the relatively low cost of living in the state. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Utah accountants and auditors earn a median salary of $69,000 per year, and that’s before bonuses and benefits.

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Can I become a CPA with an online accounting degree in Utah?

Yes. The Utah Board of Accountancy requires at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited university for those who wish to earn CPA licensure, and there are many online accounting degree programs which satisfy that condition. In fact, Southern Utah University's online accounting degree program is accredited by the AACSB, a nationally revered agency.

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Will an online associate degree in accounting help to launch a fruitful career?

Students who graduate with an online associate degree in accounting can get to work as a junior accountant, bookkeeper, or in some other entry-level position. Hard working and talented professionals will soon accrue the experience required to get ahead.


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