Back in 2014, the Vermont Board of Public Accountancy abandoned their long held dual licensing option for public accountants in favor of the more stringent National Association of State Boards of Accountancy requirements described in the Uniform Accountancy Act. This makes Vermont fully aligned with other state licensing laws that require all CPA candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree and a total of 150 semester hours of college credit before going on to pass the Uniform CPA Exam and gaining a year of practical experience.
As the state’s would-be CPAs look for a solution to cover the gap between the 120 credits earned in a traditional bachelor’s and the 150 needed for licensing, universities in Vermont have wasted no time developing CPA-specific certificate and master’s degree programs that offer the requisite 30 credits distributed among accounting, auditing, business, and ethics courses.
Find out more about CPA requirements in our step-by-step guide on how to become a CPA in Vermont.
Major Employers of Accountants in Vermont
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the bulk of Vermont’s accountants work in professional, scientific, and technical services industries. Some of these companies include instrumentation and software company BioTek Instruments, which is headquartered in Winooski, and light spectrum filter manufacturer Chroma Technology Corporation, with headquarters in Rockingham.
The second-largest group of accountants in Vermont are actually self-employed, offering their services as independent practitioners or accounting firm principals. Just behind them as the third largest group are accountants working in government, either with state agencies or in the offices of federal agencies with a presence in Vermont.
Accountants who have achieved licensure through the Vermont Board of Public Accountancy often go on to work for “Big Four” international CPA firms, two of which have a strong presence in the state. CPAs at the Montpelier offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers or the Colchester office of KPMG provide auditing and attestation services, as well as management consultation and tax services to the state’s biggest corporate employers.
Vermont’s best recognized companies like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Williston and NRG Systems in Hinesburg are also the state’s biggest employers of managerial accountants, internal auditors, and corporate controllers. Other leading employers of corporate accountants in Vermont include the largest privately held brokerage firm in the United States, A.N. Deringer, which is headquartered in Albans.
Salary Expectations and Job Growth for Accountants in Vermont
Vermont’s Department of Labor projects the number of accountant jobs in the state to increase by 4% between 2018 and 2028. During this ten-year period leading to 2028, the state should see about 320 annual job openings for accountants and auditors due to a combination of new job growth, retirements, and natural job turnover.
The BLS reports that as of May 2020, Vermont’s accountants earned a median salary of $66,940.
As anybody with a mind for accounting will tell you, averaging out salaries isn’t the best way to get a good picture of what kind of income you can expect, especially in a state with such a sharp divide between urban and rural accounting practices. Accounting is a broad field, with compensation diverging considerably between various specializations, locations, and industries.
Salaries for Accountants in Different Specialized Roles
Fortunately, the BLS does a great job at breaking down what accountants and auditors in Vermont are earning based on a variety of factors, such as experience, industry, and role/specialization.
Note that the following BLS numbers from May 2020 do not include salary incentives like bonuses and stock options, both of which can significantly increase an accountant’s salary, particularly in top corporations and among those in senior- and executive-level roles.
Corporate Staff Accountants, Bookkeepers, and Accounting Clerks
Financial services aren’t quite the big industry in Vermont that they are in other parts of the country, which means the massive salaries seen among accounting staff at the big New York and Chicago firms are off the table. Nonetheless, you’ll earn a strong salary as a corporate accountant in Vermont. If you’re relatively new to the field, you can expect to earn about $35,960, which represents the 25th percentile in the state. With a few more years of experience, you’ll earn about $44,050, which represents the median range.
Seasoned corporate staff accountants and those in senior-level roles earn closer to the top of the pay scale in Vermont, which is about $52,120 – $61,690 (75th – 90th percentile).
Forensic accountants bring a specialized skillset to the table in what is a very high-demand specialty within the field of accounting. Naturally, they bring in much better than the average pay rates in return.
As of May 2020, forensic accountants earned about $82,290 in Vermont, which represents the 75th percentile among all accountants and auditors in the state. In many of the state’s metro areas, the average salary for these professionals is even higher. For example, in Burlington, they earn about $85,340.
Controllers and Other Financial Managers
Vermont’s controllers earn a median salary of $100,310, while those with more experience and those working in larger corporations tend to earn salaries that are representative of the top of the pay scale (75th – 90th percentile), or about $135,710 – $175,290.
In the Burlington-South Burlington metro area, the median salary for controllers is even stronger, at $112,130.
CPAs and Auditors
Public accounting is one of the most common roles for accountants to fill and one of the most diverse areas when it comes to the range of salaries they can expect based on specialty, experience, credentials, and the size and clout of the firm for whom they work. Firms in this sector in Vermont can range from tiny, one-man shops practicing in small towns up near the Canadian border to Big Four international consultancies operating in Burlington.
As of May 2020, the BLS reported that Vermont’s CPAs earn about $105,140, which represents the 90th percentile among all accountants and auditors in the state.
Accountants in Executive Roles
CFOs are at the peak of the accounting profession, and they have paid their dues to get there. Years of highly specialized experience within their industry and advanced qualifications, including a CPA license, are only some of the required qualifications.
Naturally, these qualifications command top dollar. In Vermont, they earn a median salary of $131,090. The quick climb to the top means salaries that exceed $208,000 for accounting executives at the upper end of the pay scale. In the Burlington-South Burlington metro area, the median salary for accounting executives is even higher, at $140,090.
Salaries for Accountants and Auditors in Vermont’s Cities and Rural Areas
Strong median salaries in Vermont range from the lower $60,000s to the lower $70,000s, while those at the top of the pay scale earn at or near the six figures.
(This is a broad classification that includes accounting professionals in different areas of specialty, with different credentials, and with varying levels of experience.)
Tax Preparer Salaries Throughout Vermont
Vermont’s top-earning tax preparers are located in the Burlington metro area, where they earn close to $55,000 at the median level.
May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job growth data for Accountants and Auditors, Financial Managers, Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks, and Chief Executives. Figures represent national data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed April 2021.
Job growth projections sourced from the Vermont Department of Labor and reported in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2018-2028) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm.