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Steps to Becoming an Accountant in British Columbia

According to BC Work Futures, average growth is expected for accountants in British Columbia in the coming years. Demand is expected to be higher than average for business accountants in parts of British Columbia, including Victoria and Vancouver. An estimated 1,950 new jobs are expected to be created and an additional 4,150 jobs are expected to become available in the province by the year 2015 due to retirement. During times of slower than average job growth, this is actually an indicator of the resilience of the industry and is encouraging news for those interested in becoming accountants in British Columbia.

The Chartered Accountants (CA), designation requires a bachelor’s degree, specialized graduate education through the Canada School of Business (CASB), three years of experience and passing scores on the Uniform Evaluation. Certified Management Accountants (CMAs) also need to complete degree, training, experiential, and exam requirements, as do Certified General Accountants (CGAs). Non-designated accountants still generally need a bachelor’s degree and some experience in the field. The Labour Mobility Act states that accountants who are certified or licensed in any one of Canada’s provinces will have their credentials recognized in British Columbia.

Job Trends for Accountants in British Columbia

BC Work Futures reports most accountants working in British Columbia serve the professional business services industry. British Columbia is home to “Big Four” international accounting and professional services firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has offices in Surrey and Vancouver; and KPMG with offices in Abbotsford, Burnaby, Chilliwack, and Kelowna. These firms are recognized as major employers of CA and CMA designated accountants, as is local British Columbia firms like Sit Lim Chartered Accountants in Richmond and Rolfe, Benson LLP in Vancouver.

The Certified General Accountants Association of British Columbia notes that BC’s economy is growing faster than the economy of any other province (with the exception of Calgary). Fortune magazine recently listed Vancouver among the 15 best cities for new businesses since many business leaders have set their sites on the area and are in the process of building or planning to build offices there. Of the 500 largest corporations in Canada named by Financial Posts in 2005, 53 are headquartered in British Columbia. These include the national communications company Telus Corporation in Vancouver, retail giant Best Buy Canada Ltd. in Burnaby, forest products company Tolko Industries in Vernon, and gold producer Goldcorp in Vancouver.

British Columbia Accountants: Salary and Employment Facts

Data provided by BC Work Futures in 2006 showed there to be 24,125 accountants and financial auditors working throughout British Columbia at that time. Their average annual salary was $65,593, which is well above the average salary in the province for all industries and professional fields.

The majority of accountants in British Columbia (73 percent to be exact) worked in the Southwest/Lower Mainland area of the province in 2006. This area includes Abbotsford and Chilliwack. The next most popular area in British Columbia for accountants to work was the Vancouver and Madeira Park area.

CGA-BC reports that in Vancouver, an accountant working for a small to medium-sized company can expect a starting salary that ranges between $37,250 and $49,500. An analyst at a larger company in Vancouver can make up to $60,250. A controller working in a private company in Vancouver that has net worth between $100 million and $250 million can earn up to $129,750 annually.


Salary and employment data compiled by BC Work Futures information from 2006 Census and by the CGA-BC, 2010 data.

British Columbia Tax Laws in the News

On July 1, 2010, the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) was enacted, replacing the Provincial Sales Tax and General Sales Tax. This tax rate, currently at 12 percent, is being debated among British Columbia’s lawmakers, as it is believed to benefit only certain industries. In particular, British Columbia’s forestry industry has benefited enormously, as sales tax is no longer required to be paid on equipment, fuel, and electricity. This move has saved the forestry industry an estimated $140 million in the past year. Citizens are currently voting through mail-in ballot on a referendum on whether or not to keep the HST in place. Results will be tabulated in August 2011.

British Columbia is the only jurisdiction in North America that has instituted a provincial carbon tax. It was enacted in 2008 and is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A recent survey of British Columbia residents conducted by Strategic Communications found that the majority (74 percent) support the carbon tax of $25 per tonne for carbon dioxide emissions. That amount will increase to $30 per tonne in July 2012.






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