Accounting Degrees in West Virginia

Updated January 12, 2023

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West Virginia's traditionally industrial economy also includes thriving professional and financial services sectors. Explore what it takes to launch your accounting career in this state.

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West Virginia state capitol building beside river Credit: Mike Kline (notkalvin) / Moment / Getty Images

Known as the Mountain State, West Virginia is famous for its breathtaking alpine scenery. Rich in natural resources, West Virginia saw its economy experience rapid growth during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. Natural resources still account for a sizable proportion of the state's diversified modern economy.

West Virginia's accounting degree options include undergraduate and graduate programs. Explore accounting degree options and careers in the Mountain State. Consider the benefits of living and working in West Virginia.

West Virginia at a Glance

Population

1,782,959

Climate

Average Annual Temperature: 51.8℉

Average Annual Precipitation: 45.2 inches

Number of Higher Learning Institutions

42

Per Capita Income

$27,346

Accountants in West Virginia

4,310

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Results, NCES, U.S. Census ACS, BLS OEWS

Why Go to a University for Accounting in West Virginia?

Affordability ranks among the leading reasons to consider West Virginia programs and schools. Attending college in the Mountain State may offer some cost advantages.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), West Virginia's private colleges cost about $12,000 less than the average U.S. institution in 2019-2020. The state's public, in-state tuition cost was $2,000 lower than the national average for that year.

The NCES also reports that about 139,500 students attended a West Virginia college in the fall of 2020, which is over 8% of West Virginia's total population.

If you reside in West Virginia, you may be eligible for college funding through the state government's PROMISE scholarship program. The PROMISE scholarship awards high-achieving West Virginia students with up to $5,000 per academic year in tuition support.

Students can also benefit from launching their careers in the state where they attended college. Many accounting programs offer practical learning opportunities such as work-study programs and internships. These often function as valuable sources of professional experience, network-building opportunities, and job leads.

Education Statistics for West Virginia

West Virginia has many two-year and four-year colleges relative to its population size. Over 80% of West Virginia students enrolled in distance education during 2020, which was likely due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The state lags behind national averages in terms of appropriations and tax revenues assigned to higher education.

Higher Education Statistics West Virginia Data National Data

Four-Year Colleges

27

2,520

Two-Year Colleges

15

1,216

Students Enrolled in Distance Education

82.4%

72.8%

Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student

$6,309

$9,327

Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education

$13,179

$15,959

Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree

7.6%

8.6%

Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree

12.7%

20.2%

Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher

8.6%

12.7%

Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census ACS

Accreditation for West Virginia Schools

Accreditation is a third-party endorsement of a school's academic quality. Credits from an accredited institution also transfer to other accredited schools more readily.

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accredits West Virginia's colleges and universities. Some West Virginia accounting schools may also hold a specialized or programmatic accreditation. This typically applies to programs recognized for their outstanding quality.

Specialized agencies that accredit business and accounting programs include the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

Delivery Formats for a West Virginia Program

When considering a school or program, many students factor in the course format and options. Online education has made major strides in recent years, and accounting translates well to the virtual classroom.

More than 80% of West Virginia college students took at least some online courses in 2020. However, online learning is not for everyone. Consider the pros and cons of online, on-campus, and hybrid programs.

On-Campus Programs

If you prefer the energy and social aspects of the traditional college experience, campus-based learning might be right for you. West Virginia's low cost of living can make on-campus learning more financially accessible than other states.

But, if you do not already live in the city where you plan to attend college, you will need to relocate to enroll in a campus-based program. This may significantly add to your overall costs.

Online Programs

More students in West Virginia enrolled exclusively in online classes compared to the rest of the U.S. in 2020. Online learning offers convenience and flexibility, allowing students to work while in school. Remote classes also offer cost-cutting opportunities since you can save on transportation and housing costs.

However, online learning comes with some tradeoffs. Online students have fewer, if any, opportunities for interacting face-to-face with peers and faculty members. Yet, depending on your unique needs, the benefits of online learning may outweigh any downsides.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs combine in-person attendance with online learning. They offer the best of both worlds, but with limitations. For example, hybrid programs require in-person attendance to complete coursework. This means that you must be within commuting distance of your school.

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Paying for Your West Virginia Accounting Degree

West Virginia accounting degrees can be relatively affordable. Even so, most students attending college in the Mountain State still need help meeting their tuition costs and living expenses.

If you need assistance, begin by looking into non repayable aid options including scholarships, fellowships, and grants. You can also consider federal and private loans.

If you graduated from a West Virginia high school with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, you may qualify up to $5,000 in funding through the state's PROMISE scholarship program.

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

In the United States, most public institutions charge in-state students lower tuition than out-of-state students. Residents contribute to a state's higher education network through their taxes. This is reflected by the lower tuition rates they pay.

Many states participate in tuition exchange programs known as reciprocity agreements. These agreements allow learners from other states to qualify for resident tuition rates.

West Virginia participates in the Academic Common Market, a program of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). Students from any of the 15 SREB states may qualify for West Virginia tuition discounts under the initiative.

Cost of Living in West Virginia

The cost of living index compares the cost of living in U.S. states to the national average, using 100 as the baseline nationwide average score. West Virginia's score of 89.8, according to the Council for Community & Economic Research's 2022 survey, indicates an average cost of living 9.5% cheaper than baseline.

Housing is particularly affordable in West Virginia. The state's cost of housing index score for 2022 was just 76.9. This is good news for students planning to attend a campus-based program at a West Virginia university for accounting.

Careers for Accounting Graduates in West Virginia

Businesses in every industry have ongoing needs for accounting and finance professionals. Consider the state's top industries by employment numbers in 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  1. Government
  2. Education and healthcare services
  3. Trade, transportation, and utilities
  4. Leisure and hospitality
  5. Professional and business services

The "Big Four" accounting firm of Ernst & Young has an office location in Charleston, WV. Emerging professionals can consider internship and employment opportunities that may be available through this major company.

West Virginia's economy is in transition as its traditional reliance on minerals and natural resources continues to shift. The state shows signs of positive growth. West Virginia ranked 10th among U.S. states for gross domestic product (GDP) growth during the second quarter of 2021, reports a 2021 state press release.

Popular Accounting Careers in West Virginia

Credit Counselor

Credit counselors provide advice and services to individuals and organizations struggling to manage debt. They recommend debt management programs and solutions, and connect clients with educational and informational resources. In some cases, they also assist with personal budgeting and provide advice on major financial decisions related to loans and mortgages.

Job Outlook in West Virginia (2020-30): +5.3%

Sources: Projections Central

Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents

Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents carry out trades in financial markets. They also offer advice on personal and business investment decisions and analyze financial markets to identify trends and opportunities.

Job Outlook in West Virginia (2020-30): +3.7%

Sources: Projections Central

Accountants and Auditors

Accountants track financial transactions, prepare financial records and documents, and examine financial statements for compliance and accuracy. They also assist employers and clients in their financial planning. Auditors are accounting specialists who analyze financial records to ensure they adhere to internal policies and external legal and regulatory standards.

Job Outlook in West Virginia (2020-30): +6.2%

Sources: Projections Central

West Virginia Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants
Job Availability West Virginia National

2020 Employment

4,540

1,424,000

2030 Projected Employment

4,820

1,514,700

Projected Job Growth, 2020-30

+6.2%

+6.4%

Sources: Projections Central

Accounting Salaries by Career
Career West Virginia Employment West Virginia Average Annual Salary National Average Annual Salary

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

7,410

$37,880

$45,140

Credit Counselors

120

$40,470

$50,430

Payroll Clerks

550

$38,460

$49,560

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Compliance Officers

1,460

$72,180

$75,810

Cost Estimators

840

$63,480

$73,740

Property Appraisers and Assessors

470

$48,460

$70,050

Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents

700

$47,180

$93,260

Tax Examiners and Collectors

260

$48,220

$63,200

Tax Preparers

480

$31,030

$51,080

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

4,310

$70,130

$83,980

Budget Analysts

180

$70,520

$84,240

Financial Analysts

400

$74,370

$103,020

Financial Managers

2,150

$110,460

$153,460

Personal Financial Advisors

530

$86,700

$119,960

Sources: BLS OEWS

Earning a master's degree may lead to the highest-paying accounting career opportunities in West Virginia. The compliance officer career, which requires only a bachelor's degree, is a notable exception. Compliance officers benefit from strong demand in West Virginia, earning salaries that compare favorably to national averages.

When reviewing salary data, remember to factor in West Virginia's relatively low cost of living. Employers typically tie their pay rates to local living costs. The more expensive an area is, the more local employers tend to pay.

West Virginia Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

To become a certified public accountant (CPA), you will require a license. Holding CPA licensure generally leads to expanded career opportunities and higher pay.

State-level agencies issue CPA licenses in the United States. The West Virginia Board of Accountancy is the state's licensing authority.

West Virginia's CPA eligibility standards are high but less stringent than some other states. For example, first-time candidates are not required to take the CPA exam within a specified time following college graduation. However, the state's accounting education requirements are more complex and specific than most.

The 30 semester-hours (or equivalent) of accounting coursework required of West Virginia CPA candidates must include:

  • At least six credit-hours in financial or intermediate accounting
  • At least six total credit-hours in auditing information systems (three credit-hours) and accounting information systems (three-credit hours)
  • At least six credit-hours in taxation
  • At least three credit-hours in cost, managerial, governmental, or nonprofit accounting
  • At least nine credit-hours in accounting electives

The following checklist summarizes overall CPA requirements in West Virginia:

  • 150 credits of college coursework, including a bachelor's degree.
  • 30 semester-hours of accounting coursework, or the equivalent
  • Three-semester hours in business law and three-semester hours in business ethics
  • 27 semester-hours of business courses
  • One year of relevant professional experience, as endorsed by a licensed CPA.

Questions About Accounting in West Virginia

  • Does West Virginia have a business school?

    Yes. Students can pursue West Virginia accounting degrees in business or accounting schools at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Accounting programs are available at many of the state's 27 four-year colleges.

  • Is WVU a good finance school?

    West Virginia University's John Chambers College of Business and Economics is nationally ranked and compares favorably to many top U.S. business schools. Several programs offered at the college are nationally ranked as of 2021.

  • What accounting jobs are there in West Virginia?

    West Virginia's economy offers various accounting jobs. Professionals with accounting degrees can work in the state as accountants, auditors, bookkeepers, cost estimators, compliance officers, and in many other similar roles.

  • How much do accountants earn in West Virginia?

    The average annual salary of a West Virginia accountant or auditor is $70,130, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This figure represents all people working as accountants or auditors and is not restricted to licensed professionals.


Page last reviewed on November 20, 2022

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