How to Become a Certified Public Accountant
Certified public accountants, or CPAs, are licensed professionals who conduct audits and help businesses and other institutions manage their finances. If you enjoy working with numbers and would like to pursue a career in accounting, read this article to learn where to get started.
Graduate from high school ; Alternatively, you can take the General Education Development (GED) examination. You will need to do one of these things in order to apply to a four-year institution.
2Get a bachelor’s degree ; Most states, with a few exceptions, require that CPAs have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. These programs typically take four years to complete, and tuition and coursework will vary depending on the school. Students take courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, business, auditing, and marketing.
- Take the SATs, the standardized test that is required for college admission, your junior year and apply to more than one school in order to keep your options open.
3Get certified in your state ; You will need to take the four-part Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination and meet additional certification requirements for your state in order to work as a public accountant. Some states also require prior accounting experience as a pre-requisite for licensure. The Unified CPA examination is composed of the following four sections:
- Certain companies also require that a CPA have a master’s degree. Increase your job prospects by getting a master’s in either finance or accounting. These programs typically take one or two years to complete.
- Some states allow prospective candidates to substitute relevant work experience for a bachelor’s degree.
4Find a job as an accountant ; CPAs can work in a variety of settings, including businesses, corporations, government institutions, and schools. Job opportunities for CPAs and other accountant/auditor occupations are expected to increase by 22% between 2008 and 2018 to meet increased demand due to new financial regulations.
- Auditing and Attestation ; Subsections include internal controls and obtaining and documenting information.
- Business Environment and Concepts ; Subsections include business structure, economic concepts, financial management, and information technology.
- Financial Accounting and Reporting ; Subsections include concepts and standards for financial statements, typical items in financial statements, and accounting and reporting for government entities.
- Regulation ; Subsections include ethics and professional responsibility, business law, and federal taxation.
- Public accountants can choose to specialize in certain fields like forensic accounting, tax advising, and medical care compensation.
- CPAs may be hired by businesses or government agencies, or can be self-employed through their own practice.
- Certified CPAs must complete continuing education requirements in order to keep their license current.