Do you spend your days thinking about becoming a CPA?
Certified public accountants play an important role in the financial world. They help individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, and even governmental organizations on a number of issues, including accounting and taxes. No organization is going to stay on top of its finances if it doesn’t have a dedicated CPA (or a team of CPAs) working behind the scenes.
You’ve made a good decision to become a CPA, especially if you’ve got excellent numerical and math skills, and a passion for finance. But there’s a lot that you need to know about this profession before you make your first move.
In this article, we’re shedding light on some of the most common FAQs about becoming a CPA.
Let’s start crunching the numbers – and more!
Who Can Become a CPA?
Is the accounting profession preserved for a certain group of people?
Anyone can become a CPA. There are requirements that anyone who wants to join this profession should satisfy.
However, while anyone can become a CPA, this doesn’t mean it’s the right profession for everybody. Just as some people are better suited for jobs in medicine or engineering or any other field, there are people who’re better suited for a career in accounting.
You see, accounting heavily involves working with numbers. There’s a lot of math, formulas, calculations, and more numbers. Not everyone has a liking for math, right?
So, if math isn’t your thing or you’re the kind of person who develops a cold when they’re asked to add this to that, there’s a good chance accounting isn’t the right profession for you. You can pursue it regardless, but you risk developing career issues later on. The last thing you want is to qualify as a CPA and then feel that it’s isn’t the right career for you once you find your first job.
What Are the Requirements for Becoming a CPA?
Naturally, the next thing you want to know is what it takes to become a CPA.
Well, this isn’t one of those careers you can pursue right after high school. It takes plenty of professional training to become a CPA. You need to go to college and pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Some schools offer business administration degrees with a concentration in accounting.
Now, it’s important to note that there’s a difference between an accountant and a CPA. An accountant is any professional who’s pursued and completed an accounting degree. For instance, you can pursue an associate’s degree in accounting (a 2-year program) and you’d still find employment as an accountant.
However, unlike a regular accountant, a CPA has to do more than just earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting (150 hours of college coursework). They have to complete a four-part certification exam which is administered by the American Institute of Public Accountants. This enables the candidate to obtain a license from a state board of accountancy.
As such, all CPAs are accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs. As a result, there are jobs a CPA can do that a regular accountant can’t legally do. For instance, while all accountants are qualified to handle tax issues, only a CPA can represent a business before the Internal Revenue Service.
Must all people who want to become CPAs satisfy the 150-hour college coursework requirement? In some states, candidates can substitute this coursework requirement with vast professional experience.
What Personal Attributes Do You Need to Become a CPA?
Like in most professions, advanced education alone isn’t enough to make one a competent professional. You also need to possess the right occupational skills and personal attributes.
What personal attributes do you need to become a CPA?
You need good communication skills. The job of a CPA involves writing reports and sharing information with other people, usually clients. Without clear written and verbal communication skills, it’ll be challenging to do these tasks successfully.
A CPA must be a detail-oriented person. The work involves dealing with lots of numerical information. Crunching numbers is the order of the day. And if you’re to know one thing about crunching numbers it’s that if you get even one digit wrong, you’re cooked. As a CPA, you can’t let such mistakes happen, which is why being detail-oriented is key.
Where Does a CPA Work?
CPAs can find employment in any organization with an accounting department. However, it’s large organizations that have these departments. Small businesses typically hire bookkeepers.
CPAs can also find employment in established accounting firms. These are firms set up by CPAs who’re in private practice.
Some CPAs also work on a freelance basis. Such accountants usually join digital platforms such as Taxfyle. These platforms connect freelance CPAs with clients.
How Much Does a CPA Earn?
The mean annual wage for all accountants, including CPAs is $83,000.
The lowest earners take home $45,000 while the highest-earning accountants get $128,000.
From these figures, we can safely conclude that CPAs are competitively compensated.
What’s the Job Outlook for CPAs?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, the employment of accountants and auditors will grow 7 percent through the next decade. The average growth for all occupations in the U.S. is 5 percent.
Start Your Journey to Becoming a CPA
Certified public accountants play an important role in the economy. Without them, organizations would not be able to keep their finances in order. Now that you have answers to the most common CPA questions, you’re ready to start your journey to becoming a CPA.
All the best and keep tabs on our blog for more career tips.