How To Become A Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Accounting is one degree where students have to be taught to be very cautious about their data analysis. Consequently, being certified lends much credibility to any accountant. Certified Public Accountants (CPA) are unique in that they are licensed to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That’s why their work often involves preparing and analyzing documents that are required by law to be disclosed.

How To Become A Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Requirements for CPA

46 states in the US require candidates for the CPA exam to have completed 150 semester hours of college coursework. This is about 30 additional hours of coursework from the traditional 4-year bachelor degree programs.

Thereafter, candidates have to pass a 4-part Uniform CPA examination, which is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Most states require CPAs to take continuing education classes in order to renew their licenses.

Degree Options for Certified Public Accountants

Some schools offer a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program covering 5 years for the CPA specialty to meet the 150-hours requirement, though a master’s degree is not necessarily required. Usually, prospective CPA candidates go for a Bachelor’s in Accounting as the basic degree requirement.

Courses Studied

The basic requirement for CPAs is to have a bachelor’s degree, and most students go for a Bachelor’s in Accounting Degree for this purpose. The courses taught in 4-year Accounting Bachelor’s Degree include general subjects in humanities, liberal arts, and math.
More accounting-focused courses include:

  • Principles of Accounting
  • Cost Accounting
  • Financial Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Financial Reporting
  • Taxation Accounting
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Professional Ethics

Specialty Areas

Public accountants may work as tax accountants, helping individuals and corporations make decisions which may have tax advantages. They also prepare and file tax returns for businesses and corporations.

Another expertise area for public accountants is as external auditors, reviewing client’s financial statements to inform investors and authorities that the preparation and reporting of the documents is correct and according to requirements.

Forensic Accounting is also a specialty area for public accountants, whereby they study financial crimes such as securities fraud, embezzlement, bankruptcies, etc.

Job and Salary Outlook of Certified Public Accountants

The job outlook for accountants and auditors is better than many other professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 16% growth rate in available jobs between 2010 and 2020. The 2010 median wage of accountants was $61,690, with many of these professionals working over 40 hours a week.

So what do you think? Is becoming a CPA part of your career plans?


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Christine S. Baker is a professional blogger and webmaster of AboutOnlineDegrees.org. Her main area of focus lies with the educational sector. Check out aboutonlinedegrees.org for useful information, tips and resources that can aid you in earning your degree successfully at your own pace.

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