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How To Become A CPA

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For decades, becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) has been a highly sought-after career path. The popularity of this profession is only increasing with time. The benefits of a CPA designation are well-known and highly valued in the business world. Not only does it provide job security and a good salary, but it also offers opportunities for career advancement and professional development. 

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The popularity of becoming a CPA can be attributed to several factors, including the high demand for skilled accounting professionals. As businesses continue to grow and expand, they require professionals well-versed in financial management and reporting to help them make informed decisions. CPAs possess the knowledge and expertise needed to provide these valuable services, which has increased demand for their services.

Another reason for the popularity of becoming a CPA is the prestige associated with the designation. Earning a CPA license is a significant accomplishment. It requires a rigorous education, passing a challenging exam, and meeting strict ethical and professional standards. As a result, CPAs are widely respected in the business world and are often viewed as trusted advisors who can provide sound financial advice.

What is a CPA?

Let’s learn more about this in-demand career. What Is a CPA, and why are they essential for businesses? 

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a credentialed professional accountant who has met the education, experience, and exam requirements of their state’s Board of Accountancy. 

To become a CPA, you must take specific steps to achieve this goal. An individual must have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field and pass a comprehensive exam. Additionally, many states require that candidates have a certain number of hours of work experience in accounting before licensing. They provide various financial services, including:

  • Auditing,
  • Tax preparation,
  • Financial planning, and
  • Consulting.

CPAs are trained to understand complex economic systems and regulations. A CPA is a professional who has demonstrated a high level of expertise in accounting, taxation, and other financial areas. It is a highly respected profession, and it is also one that requires a significant amount of education and training. They help businesses navigate the often-complicated world of accounting and finance.

How to Become a CPA:

  1. Determine Eligibility.
  2. Fulfill Education Requirements.
  3. Gain Work Experience.
  4. Pass the CPA Exam.
  5. Obtain a CPA License.
  6. Maintain Your CPA License.
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Step 1: Determine Eligibility

Before becoming a CPA, you must determine if you can take the CPA exam in your state. Each state has its requirements for CPA licensure. You must check with your state board of accountancy to determine the requirements. In general, you will need a certain amount of education, such as a bachelor’s degree or higher, and you will need to have completed several accounting and business courses. You may also need a certain amount of work experience in the accounting field.

Step 2: Fulfill Education Requirements

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) typically requires a combination of education and experience. To become a CPA, individuals must meet specific education requirements, such as: 

  • Completing a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in accounting or a related field. 
  • Completing additional coursework in accounting and business-related subjects. 

The great thing is that students have multiple educational options. Students can pursue a

Bachelor’s in AccountingBachelor’s in Business with an emphasis in Accounting
Bachelor’s in FinanceMaster’s in Accounting
MBA in Accountingand many more

Some states may allow you to sit for the CPA exam if you have a certain number of accounting credits or a bachelor’s degree in a non-accounting field. However, in most cases, you must have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.

Once you have determined that you will take the CPA exam, you must double check your education requirements. Sometimes this means completing additional college-level accounting and business courses. This could mean just a couple of extra courses, or some might pursue a master’s degree to help them quickly move into management in the future.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

In addition to fulfilling the education requirements, most states require a certain amount of professional experience. During this time, you will need to work under the accountability of a licensed CPA and perform various accounting tasks. The typical requirement is around two years of full-time accounting work before sitting for the CPA exam. Some states may also require additional experience beyond passing the exam to obtain a CPA license. The exact requirements vary by state.

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Step 4: Pass the CPA Exam

Once you have completed the education and work experience requirements, you can begin studying for the CPA exam. The CPA exam is a thorough exam that covers a wide range of accounting and business topics.

The CPA exam is a four-part test that covers:

  • Auditing and attestation, 
  • Business environment and concepts, 
  • Financial accounting and reporting, and 
  • Regulation. 

Each exam section is four hours long, for 16 hours of testing. You must score at least 75 on each section to pass the exam. The passing rate for the exam varies by section and year, but it is typically around 50%.

Different study options include self-study, online, and classroom courses. You can also purchase study materials and practice exams to help prepare for the exam. The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) is a great resource. They provide exam Blueprints that offer tons of information to help accountants study for the exam.

Step 5: Obtain a CPA License

Once you have mastered the CPA exam, you can apply for a CPA license in your state. You must document your education, work experience, and exam scores. After your application has been approved, you must pay a licensing fee and fulfill any additional requirements, such as completing continuing education courses.

Step 6: Maintain Your CPA License

Once you have obtained your CPA license, you must maintain it. Maintaining a CPA license requires adhering to continuing education requirements and professional standards. This is set by the state board of accountancy where CPAs are licensed.

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To keep their license active, CPAs must fulfill a certain number of continuing education hours every year. These hours must be in relevant accounting or business-related subjects and may include seminars, webinars, and courses offered by accredited institutions. This is important for staying up-to-date on changes in the accounting field. Plus, it ensures that you maintain the high level of expertise required for the CPA profession.

CPAs must also comply with professional standards, including ethical requirements and client confidentiality. Additionally, CPAs are subject to periodic license renewal. They may be required to complete additional education or training as part of the renewal process. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in disciplinary action. This could include suspension or revocation of the CPA license.

Show Me the Money

The base salary for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can vary depending on several factors, such as: 

  • Location, 
  • Years of experience, 
  • Industry, and 
  • The size of the accounting firm or company. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2020, the median annual wage for accountants and auditors, including CPAs, was $73,560. However, entry-level salaries for CPAs can range from around $45,000 to $70,000 per year. More experienced CPAs may earn salaries of $100,000 or more annually.

It’s worth noting that bonuses, benefits, and other forms of compensation can also significantly impact a CPA’s overall earnings. Additionally, salaries can vary depending on the specific accounting specialization, such as tax or audit.

The Reward

Becoming a CPA can be a long and challenging journey, but it can also be advantageous. The CPA designation is highly respected in the accounting and financial fields. It can lead to various career opportunities and increased earning potential. CPAs can specialize in areas such as tax, audit, and consulting, providing them with a diverse range of career paths to pursue.

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Being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can be a rewarding career choice. CPAs are crucial in financial management and decision-making for businesses, organizations, and individuals. They are respected professionals with a deep understanding of accounting and economic principles and are valued for their ability to provide expert advice and guidance on financial matters.

In addition to the satisfaction of helping clients achieve their financial goals, CPAs also enjoy a high level of job security and earning potential. Being a CPA can be a fulfilling and financially rewarding career choice for those passionate about financial management and helping others achieve their financial goals. The demand for CPAs is expected to grow in the coming years as businesses and individuals seek out expert financial advice and guidance.

If you are interested in becoming a CPA, it is essential to research the requirements in your state and create a plan for fulfilling those requirements. While the process may be complicated, it is important to remember that the hard work and dedication required to become a CPA can lead to a successful and fulfilling career. Following these steps and staying committed to your goals, you can achieve your dream of becoming a certified public accountant.

State Specific CPA Articles

How To Become a CPA in AlabamaHow To Become a CPA in Alaska
How To Become a CPA in ArizonaHow To Become a CPA in Arkansas
How To Become a CPA in CaliforniaHow To Become a CPA in Colorado
How To Become a CPA in ConnecticutHow To Become a CPA in Delaware
How To Become a CPA in FloridaHow To Become a CPA in Georgia
How To Become a CPA in HawaiiHow To Become a CPA in Idaho
How To Become a CPA in IllinoisHow To Become a CPA in Indiana
How To Become a CPA in IowaHow To Become a CPA in Kansas
How To Become a CPA in KentuckyHow To Become a CPA in Louisiana
How To Become a CPA in MaineHow To Become a CPA in Maryland
How To Become a CPA in MassachusettsHow To Become a CPA in Michigan
How To Become a CPA in MinnesotaHow To Become a CPA in Mississippi
How To Become a CPA in MissouriHow To Become a CPA in Montana
How To Become a CPA in NebraskaHow To Become a CPA in Nevada
How To Become a CPA in New HampshireHow To Become a CPA in New Jersey
How To Become a CPA in New MexicoHow To Become a CPA in New York
How To Become a CPA in North CarolinaHow To Become a CPA in North Dakota
How To Become a CPA in OhioHow To Become a CPA in Oklahoma
How To Become a CPA in OregonHow To Become a CPA in Pennsylvania
How To Become a CPA in Rhode IslandHow To Become a CPA in South Carolina
How To Become a CPA in South DakotaHow To Become a CPA in Tennessee
How To Become a CPA in TexasHow To Become a CPA in Utah
How To Become a CPA in VermontHow To Become a CPA in Virginia
How To Become a CPA in WashingtonHow To Become a CPA in West Virginia
How To Become a CPA in WisconsinHow To Become a CPA in Wyoming

Related Resources:

Guide to Online Accounting Degrees
Ultimate Guide for Accountants
Free Resources for Accountants

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?