Steps to Becoming an Accountant in West Virginia
By Susan Maphis, AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015
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WorkForce West Virginia lists accountants and auditors among the professionals that are in highest demand in the state. This trend is expected to continue as a growth rate of 0.88 percent per year is projected through the year 2022. In Workforce Investment Area 7, which includes some of the state’s most economically challenged counties like Hampshire, Mineral and Morgan, a slightly lower annual growth rate of .85 percent is expected. In Workforce Investment Area 4, including the counties of Jackson, Mason, Roane, Wirt and Wood, an increase of .73 percent per year is expected through the year 2022.
The West Virginia Board of Accountancy licenses CPAs in the state. Minimum standards of education (150 semester hours of college credit and a bachelor’s degree at minimum), experience (one year), and examination (passing the Uniform CPA Exam) must be met before licensure is granted. Because a bachelor’s degree results in around 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting is the most widely accepted method for earning the 30 additional credit hours required for a CPA license in West Virginia.
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*Accredited accounting programs are available in a flexible online format that puts an undergraduate degree in accounting well within reach. Prepare to earn your CPA license and develop the skills employers are looking for with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
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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.
“Big Four” international CPA firm Ernst & Young has a regional office in Charleston, and PricewaterhouseCoopers has a location in Assurance. Other national public accounting firms with a presence in West Virginia include SKM with a location in Wheeling and Dixon Hughes Goodman, LLP will offices in Charleston.
Job Trends for Accountants in West Virginia
Government accountants specializing in fund allocation work in state and municipal government throughout West Virginia, as well as for the many federal agencies located here. The state’s Economic Development Authority in Charleston is among the biggest local employers of government accountants, while the Internal Revenue Service in Martinsburg, the Federal Bureau of Investigations in Clarksburg, and the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection office in Harpers Ferry are the major federal employers in the state.
West Virginia’s diverse economy is also supported by manufacturing, health care, and gambling, which are among the state’s leading private industry employers.
Gambling brought $631 million to West Virginia at its peak in 2008. Even in these slow economic times, revenue from West Virginia’s legalized gambling industry is up by three percent from last year. Staff accountants familiar with the American Institute of Public Accountancy’s Gaming Audit and Accounting Guide work for Mountaineer Casino Race Track in Chester, Charles Town Races & Slots in Ranson and Hollywood Casino in Charles Town.
Some of the leading manufacturing industry employers of managerial accountants, controllers and internal auditors in West Virginia are also headquartered in the state. Among these are aluminum fabricators Alcan Rolled Products in Ravenswood Major, which fabricates aluminum plates and sheets used in everything from aerospace technology to truck trailers.
West Virginia Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor reported in May 2014 that there were some 4,450 accountants and auditors working in West Virginia. The majority of accountants worked in the Washington DC/VA/MD/WV metropolitan area. Within the state of West Virginia itself, the Charleston area employed more accountants than any other single area, at 1,180.
The average salary among West Virginia’s accountants in May 2014 was $59,520. Accountants in the Washington DC/WV metro area made much higher salaries on average, at $87,710. Within state lines, the highest-paid accountants worked in the Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna area, where they earned an average of $67,940. Other areas of West Virginia where accountants earned higher than average salaries include the Southern nonmetropolitan area (including towns like Beckley and Princeton) where they earned an average of $64,930, and the Huntington-Ashland area, where accountants earned $64,940 on average in 2014.
West Virginia Tax Laws in the News
In June 2015, West Virginia delegate Justin Marcum proposed a tax credit for West Virginia’s middle class citizens. If Marcum’s bill is passed, anyone who earns under $75,000 a year will receive a tax credit equal to a 3 percent deduction. Marcum’s goal is to give the hard-working middle class citizens a break while simultaneously putting more money back into the economy. Another aim of the bill is to create more companies and job growth in the southern region of West Virginia. Marcum’s bill will be up for consideration at the beginning of the 2015-16 Legislature.