A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Utah

By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015

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As of 2012, the Utah Department of Workforce Services projected an annual increase of 2.8 percent in the number of jobs available to accountants through the year 2022. This amounts to about 610 jobs annually, the majority of which are directly attributed to growth while a small portion are replacement jobs that result from normal retirement cycles.

Utah’s CPAs are regulated by the Utah Board of Accountancy and must complete 150 semester hours of college-level education, earn a bachelor’s degree at minimum, pass both the Uniform CPA Exam and the AICPA Professional Ethics Exam, and fulfill one year of accounting experience prior to being licensed. 

 Because a bachelor’s degree consists of around 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting serves as the most common way to earn the 30 additional credit hours required for a CPA license in Utah.

“Big Four” international CPA firms, Ernst & Young and Deloitte, both have offices in Salt Lake City. Other major accounting firms that have a strong presence in Utah include Renaissance Financial Group in Sandy, Mayer Hoffman McCann in Salt Lake City, and BDO Seidman Alliance, with offices in Farmington, Salt Lake City, and South Jordan.

The Texas State Board of Public Accountancy grants licenses to qualified candidates interested in becoming certified public accountants. To be eligible for licensure, CPA candidates are required to earn 150 semester hours of college credit and a bachelor’s degree before passing the Uniform CPA Exam and gaining a year of supervised experience.

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*Qualifying for a CPA license requires a bachelor’s degree at minimum and a total of 150 semester hours of college credit to include coursework in accounting, business and ethics. Since bachelor’s programs typically result in just 120 semester hours of credit, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) maintains that earning a Master of Science in Accounting is the best way to achieve the full 150 semester hours you need to become licensed.

Utah is home to a number of diverse publically traded corporations recognized as some of the area’s biggest employers of corporate management accountants, controllers, and cost and capital accounting specialists. Automotive safety company Autoliv in Ogden, national refrigerated trucking company, C.R. England; business training and consultation firm, Franklin Covey; and energy company, Questar, are all headquartered in Salt Lake City.

IT systems auditors and accounting information systems specialists find a unique niche working for technology companies headquartered in the state. Among these are enterprise software and services company, Norvell, located in Provo; online business software company, Omniture, in Orem; and global broadband services provider iBAHN, based in Salt Lake City.

Accountants in Utah’s Financial Services Industry

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 the accounting field employed almost 10,000 Utah residents. Over half of these were located within the Salt Lake City area. During the past 15 years, employment in Utah’s financial activities industry has grown faster than general employment in the state. This has created opportunities for CPAs and other accounting professionals who are well positioned for staff and management accounting jobs, as well as financial analyst and advisory positions. 

Salt Lake City is a financial powerhouse and many banks, insurance companies, mortgage brokers, credit unions, and real estate management firms call the city home. Some of Utah’s largest financial activities industry firms include USA Lending Group and First Utah Bank, both with corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City. International credit and banking firm, Discover Financial Services, has operational centers in West Valley, Salt Lake City, and Sandy. The corporate headquarters of Zions Bancorp, which serves the Western and Southwestern part of the United States, is also in Salt Lake City. America First Credit Union, a Utah-based credit union, is headquartered in Salt Lake City and the Bank of Utah, the largest community bank in the state, has its headquarters in Ogden.

Utah Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

The state’s Department of Workforce Services reported in May 2014 that the average entry-level salary among accountants in Utah was $39,800 per year.  By mid-career, accountant salaries in Utah average $62,000 annually, while experienced accountants earned an average of $103,600 as of 2014.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the reporting arm of the U.S. Department of Labor, reports that in the Northern Utah nonmetropolitan area, accountants earned the highest annual salary, averaging $71,720 a year. The Ogden-Clearfield area was second, paying accountants $70,630 per year on average. In the Salt Lake City area, accountants earned an average of $70,480 annually, while accountants working in the Provo-Orem region earned 66,160 per year as of 2014.

Utah Tax Laws in the News

Utah’s Supreme Court recently found in favor of the T-Mobile Corporation in a property tax dispute between the company and 15 Utah counties, which has been ongoing since 2003. Under this ruling, counties cannot tax T-Mobile on “goodwill” items listed on their balance sheet, as this indicates the purchase of another company for more than what the company’s tangible assets are worth, making the transaction exempt from standard taxation. The Court ruled that the goodwill items listed on the balance sheet are already taxed under Utah’s corporate income tax code because it subjects both tangible and intangible property to taxation. 

Utah leaders have historically tended to be very hesitant about raising state taxes. However, in March 2015, the Utah legislature decided to increase the fuel tax by 5 cents per gallon. This new plan will increase the state’s transportation budget in order to expand and improve Utah’s already impressive public transit system. Utah has not adjusted the fuel tax since 1997, making the 2015 session a historical change in state legislature.