How to Become a CPA

What To Do Now? CPA Career Training

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Are you good with numbers and enjoy detail-oriented work? If you like tasks related to financial matters, you could improve your skills through retraining to become an accountant. Certified public accountants (CPAs) work with people and businesses to help them prepare financial statements and make decisions on tax and business matters. Online CPA training courses can provide you with the background necessary to enter this field.

Career Skills for CPAs

The field of accounting can be a good match for someone who likes task-focused roles, enjoys using numbers, and is careful with detail. The abilities to be accurate, follow directions, and communicate information clearly are key career skills for this profession. Personal integrity and honesty are also important. Currently, the best opportunities become available to accountants who are versatile and knowledgeable about computers and the latest software programs.

CPAs are accountants who have earned a bachelor's degree or better, gained the required accounting experience, and passed a rigorous exam. Continuing education is required to keep a CPA designation. Public accountants may audit the books of public corporations, verify that state agencies are following their states' rules, or work for small businesses and individuals as tax preparers or planners. The need for this occupation is expected to rise as the economy changes and financial laws become increasingly complex in the future.

Career Advice: CPAs

Typically, it's expected that to get a job in this field one must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in accounting or a closely-related field. A master's or MBA is also appreciated by potential employers. Different states require different training in order to become certified as a public account. You must pass a CPA exam and gain specific supervised work experience. If you think this occupation might be a good match for you, consider retraining for it either through traditionally based campus classes or online CPA training courses. As long as businesses and individuals need to navigate complex tax codes and financial regulations, there will likely be a need for accountants.

Career Outlook

  • Education requirements: Bachelor's degree in finance, business, or accounting with some employers requiring a master's degree
  • Major accounting fields: internal auditing, government accounting, and public and management accounting
  • Career skills: Excellent personal communication, aptitude for mathematics and data analysis and interpretation
  • Career growth opportunities: Obtaining CPA certification and master's degree in accounting or business administration with an accounting specialization
  • Excellent career opportunities: Government agencies
  • Legislation that heavily affects the industry: Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), which increased government scrutiny over accounting and taxation
  • Percentage of self-employed accountants: 10 percent
  • Accountants employed in 2012: 1,275,400
  • Accountants working in federal, local, or state government: 100,550
  • Accountants working in accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services: 323,180
  • Top paying states for accountants: District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts
  • Typical benefits for salaried accountants: health and medical insurance, 401k plan, life insurance, paid annual leave
  • Popular certification: Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Typical college coursework required for CPA certification: 150 semester hours
  • Number of parts in Uniform CPA Examination: Four
  • Percent of CPA candidates who pass examination on the first try: less than half
  • Expected job growth 2022-2022: 13 percent
  • Number of new jobs expected to enter field 2012-2022: 166,700

Bureau of Labor Statistics
BLS Accountants and Auditors