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What is Accounting?

Interested in learning what’s required before you’re able to get your certified public accountant (CPA) license in Montana? In accounting, financial transactions are recorded relating to a business. These transactions are summarized, analyzed, and reported to oversight agencies, tax collection entities, and regulators during the accounting process. An accounting statement is a concise summary of financial transactions over a certain period, including the company's operations, financial position, and cash flows.

Obtaining all of the required licensing requirements for CPAs is no easy feat. A CPA credential is considered to be one of the hardest professional credentials to achieve, and it is heavily regulated at the national and state levels. Every state has its own requirements, including Montana. CPA education, professional experience, and testing as part of the certification process are set by the Montana State Board of Public Accountancy. In order to pass the exam and achieve your objectives quickly, you will need to take extra care throughout your education and training. Accounting majors who are diligent in their studies are well positioned to earn a CPA license. Your faculty adviser should know that you are planning to become a CPA in Montana if you are concerned.

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Online Accounting Education in Montana

According to the Montana Board of Public Accountants, CPA candidates must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in an accounting field while accruing 150 semester hours of credit.

In order to qualify towards your exam requirements, credit hours must contain:

24 semester hours of undergraduate (upper level) or graduate level courses, including the following class topics:

  • Auditing
  • Financial accounting
  • Management accounting
  • Taxation

24 semester hours in related business classes, including:

  • Business law
  • Communication skills
  • Economics
  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • Information systems
  • Marketing
  • Organizational behavior
  • Quantitative applications in business

Credits obtained in online courses, CLEP programs, and correspondence courses are acceptable as long as they come from an accredited college or university. Community college credits are also acceptable to the Board.

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Online Associate Degree in Accounting (AS)

An accounting associate degree is typically a step toward a bachelor’s degree. You can find entry-level employment with this type of degree; however, career and salary advancement is highly limited without higher degrees.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Accounting (BS)

Most companies require a bachelor’s degree in accounting as a minimum. Also, a bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement to obtain CPA licensure. These two accounting accomplishments will lead to long-lasting careers. However, a master’s degree is often used to complete the CPA process for many people.

Online Master's Degree in Accounting (MS)

A bachelor’s degree alone does not fulfill the college credit requirements to complete CPA licensure. As such, most students seeking this accolade will complete a master’s degree in accounting or a niche specialization in accounting. Master’s degrees in accounting also lead to better job opportunities and higher pay.

Online PhD Degree in Accounting (PhD)

Most accounting positions do not seek out candidates with PhDs. However, individuals who wish to teach, complete research, or reach the highest positions in the field will probably want to complete a doctorate or PhD.

Online Degree in Accounting (Online)

Accounting is an exceptional area of study for online learning. While Montana does not yet have a large number of accredited online accounting degree programs, this is likely to change with each passing year.

Become an Accountant in Montana

Once you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! You’ve completed the first level of Montana’s two-tier CPA system. After completing the CPA Exam, you’ll receive a CPA certificate. While this qualifies you to be employed as an accountant, you may not practice on your own or be listed as an active CPA until you reach the second tier.

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CPA candidates working toward a Permit to Practice must complete the following:

  • First, you must pass the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)’s Home Study Course on Professional Ethics.
  • Log the work experience required by the board prior to licensure. This must include a minimum of one full year (2000 hours) of supervised practice, and must meet the following criteria:

    • Must take place in a public, private, governmental or academic accounting office
    • Can be either full or part time, as long as total hourly requirements are satisfied
    • Must be completed within three years of the time you apply for your Permit to Practice
    • Must be supervised by a practicing CPA with a valid Permit to Practice
    • Must be comprehensive and relevant to an accounting career
  • Have your supervisor complete the Evidence of Satisfaction of Experience Requirements form. This must be submitted with your application at the end of the process.

Exam Requirements in Montana

Once you’ve completed your degree and required semester hours, you may be eligible to take the Uniform CPA Exam. This is the next step in acquiring your license to practice accounting in Montana.

  • Apply for the exam online or download the application forms at the CPA Examination Services (CPAES) website.
  • Send in your application, along with the following required documentation:
    • A copy of your official college transcript (contact the registrar’s office of your college to request that this be sent directly to CPAES)
    • Attestation and Affidavit Form, signed in front of a Notary Public
    • 2” x 2” passport-style photograph of your head and shoulders
    • Payment in the form of check or money order payable to CPA Examination Services, or submit a credit card form if paying by mail with a credit card
    • ADA Modification Form (if requesting accommodation for a disability)
  • Send completed application, with all forms, to CPA Examination Services – Montana Coordinator, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219-8469.
  • Wait for the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to send your Notice to Schedule. You’ll receive this notification by mail, email, or fax, depending on the choice you select at time of registering.
  • Visit the Prometric website to schedule your exam. Montana testing locations are in Helena and Billings. Be sure to arrive on time for your test.
  • Wait to receive your scores in the mail. Results are generally sent within two to three weeks of your exam date.

Getting Your CPA License in Montana

Montana’s two tier system means that accountants who wish to actively practice must apply for both their CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice. If you aren’t seeking to practice and just want to certification for your resume, the Certificate may be enough. However, most CPAs who intend to practice accounting on their own, opt to apply for both at the same time.

Here are the requirements before you’re able to complete both tiers:

  • Certification only:
    • Bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours from an accredited college or university
    • Completed and passed the Uniform CPA Exam
    • Completed and passed the AICPA Ethics Exam
  • Certification and permit to practice:
    • Bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours from an accredited college or university
    • Completed and passed the Uniform CPA Exam
    • Completed and passed the AICPA Ethics Exam
    • Complete one full year (2000 hours) of applicable work experience
    • Have supervising CPA complete the Evidence of Satisfaction of Experience Requirements form

Here’s how to apply:

  • Submit the Application for Original Certification/Permit to Practice to the Montana Board of Public Accountants
  • Along with your application, you’ll need to submit the following:
    • An official college transcript (submitted directly from an accredited college or university)
    • Three Verification of Moral Character References (found in the application packet)
    • Financial Statement Disclosure Form (found in the application packet)
    • Evidence of Satisfaction of Experience Requirement (found in the application packet)
    • Application fee of $150, payable to Montana Board of Public Accountants
  • Mail all of the required documentation to Montana Board of Public Accountants, 301 South Park – 4th Floor, P.O. Box 200513, Helena, MT 59620-0513.

Continuing Professional Education Requirements

Now that you’ve finally obtained your CPA licensure, you’ll want to make sure you stay in good standing with the Board. Here’s how to make sure you’re up to speed on your accounting knowledge with continuing professional education (CPE).

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You’ll need to complete at least 120 hours of CPE every three years to remain active as a CPA in Montana.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • At least two hours every three years must be logged in an ethics course.
  • The reporting period ends on June 30th. Any excess hours logged in May or June may carry over to the next three year long reporting period. Inversely, if you find yourself short on hours at the end of June, you may continue to log hours in July and August to meet your requirement.
  • Approved credit topics include:
    • Accounting
    • Auditing
    • Business law
    • Communication arts
    • Computer science
    • Consulting
    • Economics
    • Ethics
    • Management
    • Mathematics and applications
    • Personal development
    • Specialized areas of industry (relevant to your accounting career)
    • Taxation
  • Credit hours may take the following forms:
    • College credit or non-credit courses
    • Structured educational programs, committees, and/or meetings
    • Professional development programs
    • Lecturing and public speaking
    • Self-study under the guidance of a National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) CPE sponsor
    • Publishing books and papers (no more than 25 percent of credit hours)
  • Report all hours logged to the Montana Board of Public Accountants every three years

You may also consider joining the Montana Society of Certified Public Accountants to stay in the loop about goings-on within the state.

Careers for Accounting Graduates

  • Auditor
    An accounting auditor in Montana is typically responsible for ensuring the business and all employees are adhering to financial policies and procedures in accordance with regulations and the law. People can choose between becoming an external or internal auditor. Also, a part of this role is to improve upon processes and to mitigate risk.
  • Tax Specialist
    Tax specialists are in charge of both quarterly and annual federal and global tax compliance. As part of this job, accountant professionals will create relevant documentation and provide the necessary support when issues arise.
  • Financial Analyst
    A financial analyst spends a significant amount of time considering the financial health of individuals or companies through comparison and analysis. These accounting professionals will then create plans and forecasts to improve upon mediocrities, identify trends, correct data, and monitor discrepancies. You could be self-employed in this position or work for companies as a financial analyst.
  • Accounting Risk Manager
    Risk managers in accounting determine the security, safety, and financial risks of an organization. These individuals will also work to minimize risks through problem-solving and strategic planning. Each day, a risk manager will monitor risks and establish methodologies to prevent risks from becoming a reality. These managers also often work closely with the CFO and various internal departments.

Montana Average Accountant Salary

Montana, home to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, offers one of the best job potential in the industry, especially for those entering the field in the next five years. Montana expects to add 21.5 percent more accounting jobs by 2024, thanks largely to its booming state tourism industry. In the southwestern part of the state, accounting and auditing positions make up for 9.1 out of every 1000 jobs, with a mean annual salary of $61,910. The salary outlook isn’t as rosy in eastern Montana, where the lowest earning accountants and auditors earn a mean annual salary of just $18,660 per year.

City Annual Median Wage
Billings $49,300
East MT Area $55,970
Missoula $51,600
Great Falls $48,600
Entry Level Mid Career Late Career
$32,000 $47,500 -
  • Montana Average Cost Estimator Salary: $67,400
  • Montana Average Auditor Salary: $54,000
  • Montana Average Budget Analyst Salary: -
  • Montana Average Credit Analyst Salary: $48,400
  • Montana Average Financial Analyst Salary: $75,000
  • Montana Average Personal Financial Advisor Salary: -
  • Montana Average Financial Examiner Salary: $54,000
  • Montana Average Tax Examiner, Collector, or Revenue Agent Salary: -
  • Montana Average Tax Preparer Salary: $48,000
  • Montana Average Actuary Salary: -
  • Montana Average Forensic Science Technician Salary: -
  • Montana Average Payroll and Timekeeping Clerk Salary: -

Montana Accounting Frequently Asked Questions

Which types of accounting employers are available in Montana?

In Montana, accounting jobs are available with a number of different employer types in a variety of fields, from major accounting firms to Fortune 200 companies. You could find work with banks, government agencies, large corporations, and small businesses. Many accountants are also independently employed.

What is the Montana mid-career accountancy earning average?

The annual average wage for accountants and auditors in Montana, according to the BLS, is $66,170. By the time you reach the middle of your career in accounting, your salary could be much higher, depending on skill development, continued education, employer, and location of your job.

Does Montana require certifications or licensure to become an accountant?

You can choose to be a basic accountant without licensure or certification. However, any accountant who wishes to increase their pay and seek out top jobs will require a CPA license. This means you must pass an exam that leads to certification, followed by state licensure.

Do Montana colleges or universities provide accounting degrees online?

Several bachelor’s degrees in accounting are available online in the state of Montana. However, only Montana State University at Billings offers an AACSB accredited online accounting program. At this time, it’s not possible to complete an accredited master’s degree online from a Montana college or university.

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