Missoula College to offer state’s 1st accounting technology apprenticeships

Missoula College’s new accounting technology apprenticeship program is funded with a $1.3 million grant from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. (UM photo)

Missoula College will be home to the state’s first accounting technology apprenticeship program.

The first group of employers will pilot the five-semester program that combines classes from Missoula College with earn-while-you-learn “on-the-job-training” employment for apprentices.

Instead of going to college for two years and then entering the workforce, apprentices will simultaneously attend Missoula College and gain work experience.

Upon completing their training program, apprentices will receive a nationally recognized certificate of completion from the state Department of Labor and Industry and an associate of science degree from Missoula College.

Students in an accounting technology program learn the basic accounting and finance skills necessary to pursue careers in bookkeeping, payroll, auditing, tax preparation, accounts payable and accounts receivable.

Potential places of employment for graduates include accounting firms, retail stores, hospitals, commercial industries and other entities that need employees with basic finance and accounting skills.

“Apprenticeships are an amazing opportunity to ensure that our workforce is ready,” said Shannon O’Brien, dean and professor at Missoula College. “Students learn directly from the experts in the field, gaining credentials needed by employees to verify their knowledge and skills, while earning a college degree.”

Funded by a $1.3 million grant from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, the accounting technology program builds on similar apprenticeships in the state’s priority industries: finance, energy, construction trades, health care, information technology and advanced manufacturing.

In addition, the 2017 Legislature passed and Gov. Steve Bullock signed legislation providing an apprenticeship tax credit (HB 308) to incentivize businesses to grow while building employee skills.

The measure gives Montana businesses a $750 tax credit for every position hired where the worker is offered on-the-job training through the Montana Registered Apprenticeship Unit. The tax credit is doubled for every veteran hired.

“Apprenticeships remain an important workforce training model because Montana doesn’t have two, four or even six years to have people graduate before they can enter the workforce,” said Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Pam Bucy. “We look forward to working with all our college partners to implement additional opportunities for Montanans to learn the skills employers are looking for and to move the state’s economy forward.”