March 27, 2014
Starting in fall 2014, Johnson State College will offer a new Certificate of Proficiency in Accounting, a program designed to help Vermonters meet new state licensure requirements for accountants without having to enroll in graduate school.
The program emerged in response to Vermont’s adoption of interstate equivalency standards for CPAs and a change in state licensure rules that make it easier for accountants to practice in other states. Starting in July 2014, Vermont accountants will need a bachelor’s degree and a total of 150 college credits, including 42 credits in accounting-related classes, and one year of experience. Under current regulations, Vermont accountants need only 120 college credits — a bachelor’s degree — along with two years of experience.
Three years ago, as Vermont began moving toward the changes, Henrique Cezar, associate professor and chair of the Business & Economics Department at Johnson State, recognized that JSC could further serve students interested in accounting careers by establishing the certificate program.
“It used to be that a bachelor’s degree was enough to become a licensed accountant and sit for the national CPA (certified public accountant) exam, but starting this July, accountants will need those extra 30 credits, and 42 of their total 150 credits will have to be in accounting-related courses,” Cezar said. “One way to get those credits would be to enroll in a master’s or Ph.D. program, but that’s an expensive and demanding route for people who simply want to become licensed accountants. These are the people for whom we developed the certificate program.”
A person with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline is eligible for the certificate program. Someone who never took any accounting-related courses as an undergraduate would have to earn all 42 of those required credits through the certificate program, while a person with a B.A. in business might need to complete fewer accounting-related courses (but would still need to accrue the required additional 30 credits).
A full-time student could complete the certificate in one year — in two semesters if only 30 credits are needed, or in two semesters plus the summer if 42 credits are needed.
Students enrolled in the certificate program will be eligible for financial aid.
In Vermont and nationwide, the number of accounting jobs is expected to grow over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The annual mean salary for Vermont accountants is $66,330.
“The job market is fairly competitive for people who are willing to work hard and put the hours into their studies,” said Josh Partlow, chair of Vermont’s Board of Public Accountancy and a partner in the Burlington office of Johnson Lambert LLP. “There are ample job opportunities out there, and these are good, high-paying jobs.”
The image of accountants as “bean counters” is fading, he added, noting that today’s accountants are more focused on auditing controls, and that an accounting degree or CPA license is extremely versatile in Vermont. “Accountants in Vermont don’t work only in accounting firms, but in nonprofit organizations, schools and hospitals, government agencies and businesses like as Bruegger’s Bagels, Dealer.com and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters,” Partlow said. “The state’s captive insurance industry also employs many accountants.”
In addition to launching the Certificate for Proficiency in Accounting, JSC is retooling its B.A. degree in business to include a new concentration in sport management and strengthen course requirements for other programs. The changes, coupled with the new certificate program, will make it possible for students in the business management or accounting program to earn the credits needed to sit for the CPA exam.
For more information about the accounting certificate program or undergraduate business programs at JSC, contact Admissions at 800-635-1219 or Admissions@jsc.edu.