Do you want to start a new career as a certified public accountant? From accounting school to your licensure exam, take a look at the top questions students have about becoming a CPA.
What Type of Degree Do You Need?
Certified public accountants, or CPAs, typically have at least a bachelor's level education. But that doesn't mean you need a four-year degree to enter the accounting field. Even though higher level accountants need the specialized skills a college or graduate program can provide, this financially- focused field is filled with plenty of opportunities—on multiple levels.
Bookkeepers, accounting clerks, and auditing assistants typically don't need a four-year degree to work in an entry-level job. This doesn't mean you can work in one of these jobs with a high school diploma or GED. Instead, you'll need accounting school courses, an associate's degree, or a diploma/certificate in the field.
What Type of Experience Do You Need?
Along with education, CPAs also need real-world accounting experience. Some degree programs require internships, field placements, or similar types of hands-on training in accounting firms or other similar work environments.
If an internship isn't part of the curriculum, on-the-job experience may still help your career. Whether you work as an assistant while you're in school or create your own non-credit practical opportunity, a future employer will appreciate the experience you have. This added experience may help you to score your dream job or, in some cases, start out at a higher salary.
What Type of Exam Do You Need to Pass?
To earn a CPA designation, you'll need to pass your state certification exam. In most states, you'll need to complete a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance (with the requisite training hours and courses) before you sit for your exam. Future CPAs will need to apply to take the exam (with their state board) and verify all educational requirements before they can take the test.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states require at least 150 semester hours of applicable coursework to sit for the CPA exam. A few, but not all, states allow CPA candidates to substitute work experience for college classes.
Are you looking for a way to fast-track your career in finance before you can become a licensed CPA? Whether you choose a bachelors-level accounting school or a less than four-year degree, you can find employment options in this growing field.