How to Become a CPA
The person that decides to become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is someone who has organizational skills, can interpret large amounts of data and who wants to play a very important role in business. For those already in accounting, this is the next logical step towards a life-long career, but don't be discouraged if you are not already in the accounting profession, there is always room for another CPA in many organizations.
Becoming a CPA means taking on responsibilities, being dedicated to the profession and becoming an expert in your field. With any job where there are big responsibilities, there are also big rewards. The outlook for the career will continue to change as we become a more global marketplace. In terms of job security; everyplace there is money, there is a CPA close at hand to oversee it.
Education Requirements to Become a CPA
The designation of a CPA is endowed at the level of the State Board of Accountancy. The requirements will vary from state to state, but most will require a Bachelors degree in order to take the exam. The most common college majors for a CPA are in accounting and business. Most States require the candidates to complete 150 hours of college coursework which includes an additional 30 hours over the standard four year degree.
There is also a Masters degree option for those who want to become a CPA. Some schools offer a combined Bachelors and Masters degree which would be earned after completion of the program. Students can typically earn both of these degrees in about five years from the start of enrollment. Although a Masters is not required, it can open more opportunities in terms of employment.
A national certifying exam is given through the American Institute of CPAs. This is a very competitive examination in which only about 50% will pass all the parts of the exam on the first try. All parts of the exam must be completed within 18 months to be valid. It is highly recommended that any candidates thoroughly look over any practice tests to prepare for the exam.
For more information about the CPA exam visit American Institute of CPAs.
CPA Job Description
To become a CPA is to become an expert in the matters of finances and taxes. The specific duties of a CPA will differ slightly depending on their personal expertise. Some may concentrate on consulting businesses, for example, in regards to how their business decisions will affect their tax situation. Others may work on safeguarding assets, employee compensation and benefits.
The type of work will also differ depending on the sector a CPA goes in to. For example, a government-based job will focus more on auditing and holding businesses accountable more than working for a large company.
Here are some common services a CPA can provide:
- Auditing of financial records
- Preparing and analyzing financial data
- Propose budgets for companies
- Offer advice on taxes
- Develop new technologies to progress the profession
CPA Salary and Career Path
The average annual salary for a CPA is around $80,000 a year with some earning up to $100,000 a year. As more companies are becoming more global, more travel will be required from a CPA. How many other jobs can you think of will pay for you to travel to a far off location? Fit in an extra day or two "off the clock" and you have a mini vacation. Standard health benefits and paid time off are also received by those in the profession.
Employment opportunities are in nearly every field of the public and private sector. Some CPAs go into business for themselves and open a firm; they can also join an existing firm as well. In this way, they can pick which services they would like to provide and which niche markets they will operate. There will be an estimated job growth of 22% through the year 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Having a credential of CPA opens many more doors within the accounting world. You may start out in working for a medium-sized company and work up to a senior level accountant in a larger company. One advantage of the profession is that every industry is a potential job. There will always be space for a qualified CPA to hold the ethics of the profession and be a respected member of a larger organization. If you are unsure about the accounting profession, try to get an internship with an accountant or ask a CPA if they wouldn't mind answering a few questions. Once you know a little bit more about what a CPA does, you're going to want to join the ranks as soon as possible.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics