Choosing a Career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

By WebCE
Jun 28, 2022
Choosing a Career as a Certified Public Accountant

Becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) can be a rewarding career, both in the work that’s done and opportunities of specialization. If you’re pursuing a career path in accounting, here’s what to know about furthering your career as a CPA.

Why become a CPA?

Certified public accountants are some of the most accomplished professionals within accounting. Salaries can vary based on experience and the career path chosen. However, accountants who choose to become CPAs see increased earning potential, additional job advancement, and greater job stability.

Moreover, becoming a CPA is often a necessary step to taking on even larger roles within finance. For instance, chief financial officers (CFOs) often need to be CPAs before being named to an executive position.

What can you do as a CPA?

CPAs are typically accountants who specialize in tax preparation, auditing, consulting, and preparing financial statements. While most CPAs help companies and individuals prepare tax returns and audit books, they may also advise businesses about how to manage their finances.

In addition, CPAs can fill many niche jobs. For example, there are forensic CPAs or tax-specific specialists. CPAs can choose a niche based on interests. Qualified CPAs can even change niches over time if they decide they want to pursue something different.

How do you become a CPA?

Requirements for becoming a certified public accountant can vary by state, but here are the main requirements:

  • Education: each state requires a certain number of college hours to be obtained before taking the CPA Exam. While there are some states that allow the CPA exam to be completed before a degree is earned, it is best to choose and finish an education program that prepares students for the CPA exam.
  • Experience: each state has a defined minimum of experience hours needed to become a licensed CPA, but most range from six months to two years.
  • Exam: each CPA candidate has to successfully pass the national uniform multi-part CPA exam issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and candidates have 18 months from passing the first section to pass the other parts. Most states recommend candidates take a CPA review course before sitting for the exam for extra practice.

There may be other requirements, like extra courses or ethics exams, for candidates to complete. Candidates should visit their state board sites to review specific requirements.

How do you maintain a CPA License?

The requirements for maintaining a CPA license likewise vary by state, but most states require renewal paperwork, fees, and continuing professional education (CPE) credits to be completed every 1-3 years. CPAs can view state requirements through NASBA or through CPA CPE sponsor requirements pages like WebCE.

CPE for CPAs can be obtained in a variety of ways like through conferences, classrooms and through online courses. Certificates of completion are typically needed for audit purposes and credit reporting often happens through the license renewal process. WebCE offers online NASBA QAS self-study approved courses that not only satisfy CPE requirements but also give CPAs the latest information on industry trends and changes. WebCE’s CPA CPE course catalog includes courses covering topics like accounting, auditing, tax, ethics, and more.

To order CPA CPE courses, visit WebCE’s CPA CPE Course Catalog.

CPA CPE Catalog