Accounting Degree Overview for West Virginia

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Virginia offers a low cost of education and plethora of distance education options, making it a great place to pursue an accounting degree. Popular accounting careers in West Virginia include bookkeeping and auditing clerks, accountants and auditors, financial managers, and cost estimators.

Students pursuing all types of accounting degrees in Virginia can put their education to good use in the state after graduation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that personal financial advisors in the state earn an average annual salary of $95,780.

This guide explains why it’s worthwhile to pursue a West Virginia online accounting degree. It also covers potential careers and salaries for graduates, along with ideas for how to fund an education in the state. At the end of this page, we include a list of the best accounting schools in West Virginia. 

West Virginia at a Glance

Population1,778,070
Per Capita Income$26,179
Fortune 500 Companies0
Number of Higher Learning Institutions44
ClimateAverage Annual Temperature: 51.8℉

Annual Precipitation: 45.2 inches
Accountants in West Virginia4,250

Top West Virginia Schools for Accounting

  • Wheeling Jesuit University
  • West Virginia University
  • West Virginia University Institute of Technology
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College
  • Marshall University
  • Bluefield State College
  • Ohio Valley University
  • Davis & Elkins College
  • Bethany College
  • Shepherd University

Why Go to College for Accounting in West Virginia?

Students may choose to earn their accounting degrees in West Virginia because of the low cost of tuition and living, and/or for the benefits of networking in the state where you plan to work after graduation. 

Comparatively, Virginia is very affordable: The cost of living falls below the national average, making it easier for students to pay for housing, transportation, groceries, and other basic necessities while getting an education. Tuition at four-year public universities and private institutions of higher learning in West Virginia also costs less than the national average.

West Virginia offers more than three dozen institutions of higher learning to choose from. Some of the best schools in the state are in towns like Morgantown, Fairmont, Bluefield, and Huntington. Proximity to a campus can be important even for distance learners, because some hybrid online programs may require in-person components. 

Students who plan to work in West Virginia after college can particularly benefit from earning their accounting degrees in state. They can network with their classmates and local accounting professionals before they even graduate, opening the door to potential internship and job opportunities. 

Education Statistics for West Virginia

Prospective students in West Virginia can choose from 25 four-year colleges and 19 two-year colleges when deciding where to earn an accounting degree. The state dedicates 6.3% of tax revenue to higher education, more than the national average of 5.8%.

Fifty-eight percent of West Virginians participate in distance education for at least part of their college experience, substantially more than the national average of 34.7%. Fewer adults over 25 hold an associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degree here compared to the national average. 

Higher Education in West Virginia

West Virginia DataNational Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges253,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges191,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education58%34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student$5,261$8,196 
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education6.3%5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree7.1%8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree 12.2%19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher8%12.1%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Accreditation for West Virginia Schools

Accredited colleges go through a process of evaluation by an independent accrediting agency that examines the curriculum and student outcomes to ensure each institution is meeting the same standards of academic excellence. A college can have either regional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation applies to nonprofit schools, which allows for transfer of credits between other schools and admission to graduate programs and professional certifications at other regionally accredited institutions.

Students deciding where to earn their online accounting degrees in West Virginia should look for schools accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The state’s regional accreditation body, the HLC evaluates universities in West Virginia and many other states stretching from Ohio to Arizona.

Considerations for an Accounting Degree in West Virginia

Earning an accounting degree in West Virginia offers a variety of benefits, but many factors go into the process of choosing the right college and program. The information below can help you determine if West Virginia is the right state in which to start your search for accounting programs. We explain the types of accounting degrees and concentrations available, the differences between online and on-campus programs, and figuring out how to pay for your accounting degree. 

Accounting Degree Levels

Not every college offers every level of accounting degree, so the type of degree you want to pursue may impact your school decision. Students can pursue an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. in accounting. Each type of degree leads to different careers and salaries. Below, we explain the different accounting degree levels. 

Accounting Concentration Options

Students earning their accounting degrees in West Virginia can choose from a variety of concentrations, including environmental accounting, mergers and acquisitions, sports accounting, and international tax. The following concentrations may prove particularly beneficial to accounting majors in the state, due to their broad applicability to popular accounting career opportunities in West Virginia. Below, we explain why to consider choosing a cost accounting or financial accounting concentration. 

ConcentrationDescription
Cost Accounting A concentration in cost accounting focuses on internal management and issues like employee efficiency, logistics, and purchasing. This concentration prepares graduates for careers like accountant and auditor, management accountant, financial manager, and management analyst. 
Financial Accounting A financial accounting concentration emphasizes external reporting of financial information and analysis of financial data. Potential careers for those who choose this concentration include financial accountant, budget analyst, auditor, and financial analyst. 

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

Accounting students in West Virginia can choose from on-campus, online, or hybrid accounting programs. Below, we explain the differences between these learning modes. 

On-Campus Programs

On-campus programs in West Virginia frequently attract learners coming straight from high school and others who want a traditional college experience. Benefits of choosing this option include the opportunity to connect with classmates and instructors in person and participate in extracurricular activities and student groups on campus. Attending an in-person class provides needed structure and motivation for some learners. 

Online Programs

Those choosing to pursue online accounting degrees in West Virginia include working adults, students who have been out of school for a long time, and anyone trying to balance multiple responsibilities. Many students prefer the flexibility and convenience that online programs offer. Instead of attending an in-person class at a specific time and place, most distance education programs let learners log on asynchronously, allowing them to complete coursework when convenient. 

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs combine aspects of online and in-person learning. The amount of online learning available in hybrid programs varies by school. In some cases, students take some classes online and some in person. Other programs offer classes with some parts online and some on campus. 

Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education

Enrolled Exclusively in Distance Education CoursesEnrolled in Some but Not All Distance Education CoursesNot Enrolled in Any Distance Education Courses
West Virginia Students41.6%16.4%42%
United States Students16.3%18.4%65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

Students pursuing accounting degrees have several financing options to pay for their education. A four-year college degree costs less in West Virginia than in many other states, and learners who can pay in-state tuition save significantly compared to out-of-state students. 

Explore financial aid opportunities like scholarships, grants, fellowships, and student loans. Scholarships and grants don’t need to be repaid. Fellowships typically pay a graduate student to pursue academic work in their field. The federal government offers low-interest loans to undergraduate and graduate students to help offset the cost of college. 

Average Cost of College Tuition and Fees in West Virginia, 2017-2018

West VirginiaNational
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$7,619$9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$21,032$25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)$12,341$30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$4,077$3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$9,410$7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

In-state tuition costs much less than out-of-state tuition in West Virginia. Students who can find a way to qualify to pay in-state tuition can save significantly compared to those who pay out-of-state rates. The average in-state tuition at a four-year public school is $7,619, compared to the $21,032 an out-of-state learner would pay for the same education. Students attending public two-year colleges also pay much less for in-state tuition ($4,077) than out-of-state tuition ($9,410). Private four-year colleges charge the same tuition regardless of residency status. 

The Southern Regional Education Board’s Academic Common Market state reciprocity agreement allows students in nearby states to pay in-state tuition rates for select undergraduate and graduate degree programs in West Virginia. Participating states include Tennessee, Texas, Kentucky, and Virginia. 

West Virginia’s Cost of Living

Living in West Virginia is less expensive than in many other places. The state ranks as the 16th most affordable state in the country, with a cost of living index score of 92.4; comparatively, the national average affordability score is 100. This low cost of living can prove beneficial to those who attend college in the state. 

Other School Selection Criteria

Besides the factors mentioned above, a variety of other key criteria may impact the selection of the right school for you, regardless of state. Depending on your situation you may want to consider one or more of the following when making your decision: 

  • How big is the school? Do you prefer a large university with many students, or an intimate experience at a small college?
  • How long would it take to earn your degree? Program length varies depending on degree level, college schedule, and credits required to graduate.
  • What types of student services does the school offer? Research what the school offers in the way of career services, tutoring, and writing centers.
  • Does the university facilitate a robust alumni network? Joining a university alumni network may lead to many career opportunities both inside and outside of West Virginia.
  • Will it be difficult to get into the program? Consider the admission requirements and acceptance rate.
  • What types of admission materials does the school require? Will you need to complete the SAT/ACT or GRE? Many schools require letters of recommendation, writing samples, and resumes.
  • Does the school have a good reputation overall? What about for its accounting program specifically?
  • Careers for Accounting Graduates in West Virginia

    West Virginia’s historic dependence on mineral resources and the energy sector has negatively impacted the state’s economy. The state’s coal industry has been steadily declining with growing concerns about the environmental impacts of relying on fossil fuels. 

    Major industries include chemicals, biotech, and healthcare. All of these industries need workers with accounting degrees to help them find ways to reduce costs and keep track of financial information. Ernst and Young, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms, has an office in Charleston, West Virginia. 

    Below, we discuss potential accounting careers in West Virginia, including information about the availability of jobs and average salaries. We also explain the requirements for becoming a CPA in the state, answer some frequently asked questions about earning an accounting degree in West Virginia, and include a list of some of the best accounting schools here. 

    Select Accounting Careers in West Virginia


    • Personal Financial Advisors


      Personal financial advisors typically need a master’s degree at minimum. They help people manage their finances and plan for their futures. Typical job duties may include meeting with clients to talk about financial goals, providing client education about investment risks and opportunities, and recommending investments to clients.


    • Cost Estimators


      Cost estimators usually need at least a bachelor’s degree. Cost estimators use data to estimate the amount of money, time, and labor necessary to create a product or offer a service. They recommend cost-saving measures, maintain records of estimated and actual costs, and collaborate with engineers, clients, and architects.


    • Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks


      Bookkeeping and auditing clerks need an associate degree to qualify for most jobs. They work with financial records, recording and calculating data, checking for accuracy, and producing reports and financial statements. They use bookkeeping software, databases, and spreadsheets.


    West Virginia Employment Trends

    Projected Job Growth for Accountants

    4,100 Employees2018
    4,400 Employees2028
    West Virginia 7.3% increase
    1,424,000 Employees2018
    1,514,700 Employees2028
    National 6.4% increase
    Source: Projections Central

    Curious about other accounting jobs? Explore more here

    Potential salary is not the only reason to consider a career, but it’s useful to understand which degree you need to pursue different accounting professions. Level of compensation typically increases as the level of education required goes up. 

    For those with associate degrees, becoming a credit counselor is the best-paying career in the state. Bachelor’s-holders who pursue cost estimation earn salaries almost equal to the national average. Earning a master’s degree in accounting opens the door to the most varied and lucrative career options for accounting professionals in West Virginia, including work as financial advisors and financial managers. 

    West Virginia Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

    The requirements for becoming a certified public accountant vary, because each state sets its own rules and regulations for licensure. Students hoping to become CPAs should check the rules of the state in which they hope to practice before graduation. West Virginia requires CPAs meet the following criteria to receive their license: 

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college (150 semester credits). This must include at least 27 semester credits in accounting, six semester credits in business law, and 27 semester credits in general business.
  • Pass an ethics exam.
  • Pass the Uniform CPA Exam. West Virginia requires applicants to hold a social security number to sit for the exam.
  • Complete one year of professional accounting experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA.
  • See the West Virginia Board of Accountancy for more information about becoming a CPA in the state. 

    Resources

    Frequently Asked Questions


    • Is accounting a good career in West Virginia?

      Yes. West Virginia offers a variety of promising accounting careers. The best-paying accounting careers in West Virginia include financial manager and personal financial advisor.


    • How much do accountants earn in West Virginia?

      Salary expectations for accounting professionals vary by experience level, type of degree held, and industry. The BLS reports accountants in West Virginia earn a mean annual wage of $67,340.


    • What accounting jobs are there in West Virginia?

      Accounting careers in West Virginia include accountants and auditors, financial managers, personal financial advisors, and cost estimators. Other accounting jobs in the state include bookkeeping and auditing clerks, payroll clerks, credit counselors, and tax examiners and collectors.


    • Can I get an accounting degree in West Virginia?

      Yes. Many colleges offer accounting degrees in West Virginia, including at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. levels.


    • Does West Virginia have online accounting programs?

      Yes. Students have several options to earn a West Virginia online accounting degree. The state offers a variety of partly and fully online accounting degrees.


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