A State By State Accounting Guide
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Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Utah

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.

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

Job prospects in the field of accounting are so promising in Utah that the state’s Department of Workforce Services gave it a five star rating - the highest rating possible  - in recognition of the strong employment outlook and high salaries available in the field.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services expects an increase of 28% in the number of accounting jobs in the state between 2012 and 2022.  This is more than twice as high as the national rate of increase expected for accounting jobs nationwide according to the US Department of Labor (DOL).

The median salary for an accountant in Utah was $62,300 in 2014 according to the DOL.  Experienced professionals in the 90th percentile, often those with CPA licenses, earned an average of $103,600.

The 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide provides the salaries for a number of accounting specialty positions in Salt Lake City for 2014.  For instance, accountants with one to three years of experience in large accounting firms earned between $69,438 and $88,628.

Salaries are even higher for specialized accountants, with forensic accountants in Salt Lake City earning salaries within the range of $72,215 and $112,615. Controllers at large financial services firms in Salt Lake City earned salaries in the range of $153,015 and $194,930 according to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide.

Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) in Utah, which often hold CPA licenses, earned the highest salaries among all accounting professionals.  CFOs at financial services firms in Salt Lake City earned between $156,550 and $277,750 according to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide.

Accountant and Auditor Salaries in Utah’s Cities and Rural Areas

In 2014, accountants and auditors in the nonmetropolitan area of Northern Utah earned the highest salaries in the state according to the US Department of Labor.

The 90th percentile in each area is representative of salaries for experienced accountants with CPA licenses.

Area name
Annual mean wage
Logan UT-ID
Ogden-Clearfield UT
Provo-Orem UT
St. George UT
Salt Lake City UT
Northern Utah nonmetropolitan area
West Central Utah nonmetropolitan area
South Western Utah nonmetropolitan area
Eastern Utah nonmetropolitan area

Tax Preparer Salaries in Utah’s Major Cities

Tax preparers in Provo-Orem had the highest average salary in 2014 according to the US Department of Labor:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Logan UT-ID
Ogden-Clearfield UT
estimate not released
Provo-Orem UT
St. George UT
estimate not released
Salt Lake City UT

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2014. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing.

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.