Companies, organizations, and accounting firms seek accountants with experience, expertise, and, oftentimes, advanced education. For this reason, many people choose to become a CPA to strengthen their resume and make them a more valuable applicant than those without the certification. CPAs earn more money, have credible knowledge, and are open to more job opportunities. This piece covers how to become a CPA to set you up for your next accounting job.
Steps to Achieving CPA Status
Each state has slightly different CPA requirements, so be sure to confirm the steps for your state. You can view each state’s requirements here. We list the basic steps to become a CPA, but know that it is a detailed process.
1.Education- CPA candidates must have completed an undergraduate degree before applying to take the CPA exam. Some states are more lenient with this rule, but generally expect to wait until after you graduate. Along with a bachelor’s degree, you will need a certain amount of credit hours of accounting and business courses. Depending on your degree, you will have likely completed most, if not all of these hours during your undergraduate time. However, you may need to supplement with extra courses if you do not meet the minimum.
2.Exam- Taking and passing the CPA exam is the next step. The CPA exam has 4, 4-hour test sections. The topics of these sections are Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation. The exam question types include multiple choice, case studies simulations, and written tasks. A minimum score of 75 in each section is a passing score. The exam is a very important part of the process, so many people use guides and spend time studying for the exam. The AICPA also requires candidates to take an ethics course to pass.
3.Experience- Experience is another step that varies state-to-state. Necessary accounting work experience ranges from 6 month to 2 years. Your work experience can help set you apart from other candidates, so try to find opportunities that relate to your career goals.
We covered the three main steps, but there are more to consider. Before deciding to pursue becoming a CPA, take time to think about your future and aims to see if being a CPA will help you get to where you want to be. There are a lot of resources at your disposal to make the journey easier.