SC Offering New Accounting Enrolled Agent Program
Sheridan College will begin offering an accounting enrolled agent certificate program this fall, which will provide students with career enhancement skills while meeting a need in the local business community.
“Creating opportunities for students to learn employable skills is at the heart of the community college mission,” Dr. Walt Tribley, President of Sheridan College said. “This program is a great example of how community colleges respond to local and regional employment needs as well as the benefits of having community members involved on our numerous advisory boards.”
Across the nation, everyone from small business owners to large corporations are struggling to find certified public accountants, or CPAs, according to Diana Heeb Bivona, SC Business Faculty Coordinator and instructor. Tribley said a member of the college’s Johnson County Advisory Board brought the need forward, along with ideas regarding how to solve it. For Bivona, the employee shortage at local CPA firms had also surfaced in her community outreach as well.
“They’re in desperate need of people. Over 400,000 CPAs have left the profession in the last few years, and those leaving have impacted the industry,” Bivona said.
The college began building the anticipated enrolled agent certificate program from the ground up. It was approved by the Sheridan College Board of Trustees in March and the Wyoming Community College Commission in June. Yesterday, the College received the final approval from the Higher Learning Commission, the college’s accrediting body, allowing students the ability to begin the program this fall.
“This need exists in public accounting firms, small accounting firms, banks. Even the IRS uses the skills of enrolled agents,” Bivona said. “They can practice anywhere in the United States, and they can represent taxpayers when it comes to collections, audits and appeals. Of course, they can also prepare taxes.”
Bivona said the certificate program curriculum is based on the three exams the IRS requires for becoming an enrolled agent. It will be a six-course program that can be completed in one year, she said. The first course will focus on individual taxes, followed by another on business taxes. Other courses will focus on policies, procedures and regulations; accounting; Quickbooks; and an introduction to business law.
“For those people who are looking to improve, or earn a better wage, this program will give them a step up,” Bivona said. “It will also allow people to get in on the ground level at these accounting firms, where they can then work under a CPA. Perhaps they will decide they want to move up, and this is a step in the door to other opportunities.”
An enrolled agent “earns the privilege of representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service” by either passing a three-part comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or through experience as a former IRS employee. There are currently 50,000 enrolled agents in the entire United States and abroad. Only 75 to 100 of them work in Wyoming. The anticipated one-year certificate program at Sheridan College will prepare students for that exam, or for a career in the field.
Tribley said another benefit to the program and eventual certification is that many jobs in the field can be done remotely.
“The Wyoming lifestyle is often such that, in order to stay here and continue to enjoy all of the things we love, we need flexibility in our employment,” he said. “Many enrolled agent positions are remote.”
Students interested in enrolling can learn more at www.sheridan.edu or by calling 307-675-0505.