Why become a CPA? Well, becoming a CPA is a dream goal for many accountants. It is a designation that is synonymous with accounting for many in the field. When you get your CPA license, there are things that will open up to you in the industry that you may not have access to without it. The CPA certification is not something you can get through education or a degree alone, thus making it even more prestigious. Consequently, you need to pass the CPA Exam to receive this designation, and you need to qualify based on other merits as well.
Earning your CPA license is a lengthy process and also one that will cost a lot of money to see through to the end. However, you will also reap the benefits that more than pay for themselves. Most people who decide to pursue the CPA feel confident that the ROI is worth it. You will see an increase in salary, a diverse selection of job opportunities, job security, and other benefits like the opportunity to travel.
You also get the satisfaction of knowing that you are a part of something that is helping make the world a better place. Remember the Enron scandal back in 2001? Enron Corporation went bankrupt due to poor accounting practices. This had a domino effect of lost jobs for thousands of people, wiped pensions, and much more. Because it was a global corporation, the effects went further than just the United States, too. As a CPA, you have the power to help prevent disasters like this.
Candidates who have experienced this already will tell you that becoming a CPA completely changed their lives — for the better. When you get your CPA certification, it opens a wide range of opportunities for you. Let’s take a brief look into what is needed to get your CPA.
If you’re a college student pursuing accounting, it’s important to decide what niche you want to go in, or what certification you want to pursue. When you decide early on, you can put all your efforts into your goals from the start, and save yourself time and money on pursuing your professional certifications. Whether you’re on the fence about getting your CPA, or not giving it a lot of thought yet, we’re going to help you decide.
Before you can make the big decision about becoming a CPA, it helps to do your research (like you’re doing right now). Also, you have to spend money to get your CPA. That said, you’ll make more money when you have it. In addition, many companies offer a cash bonus to their employees who get their CPA. However, that’s just one of several reasons you should become a CPA. Let’s explore more of them.
Why become a CPA? Well, CPAs are the top of their industry, for starters. CPAs, or Certified Public Accountants, are finance professionals who have achieved expertise beyond a non-certified accountant. Becoming a CPA is done through advanced education, training, experience and hard work. It comes with a great deal of prestige because people in the accounting profession understand how much hard work goes into getting it and keeping it.
Accountants who aspire to become partners in an accounting firm or move up the corporate ladder want the CPA qualification. You can expect a great deal of prestige and respect when you hold your CPA. While the CPA Exam itself is rigorous and tests you in many different accounting areas, you will also be required to do extensive on-the-job training to qualify for your CPA.
Accountants with CPAs are considered the best of the best. They are truly the “black belts” of the industry and you can trust that showing your CPA certification is a top way to prove that you know what you’re doing.
Another big CPA benefit is job security. CPAs are needed everywhere, which means you will find it easier to get a job and to keep your job. Corporations, non-profit organizations, and governments in every industry around the world look for CPAs to fill in their senior finance positions. Also, it is not surprising that junior accountants with CPA are preferred when it comes to recruitment and promotion.
As a result of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the workload in the accounting department of every corporation has vastly increased, leading to a shortage of accounting experts on a global scale. At the same time, 75% of current CPAs will retire in 15 years, based on a study by the AICPA. This creates a golden opportunity for you to jump into this important industry. Joining a job field that is so in demand means you stand a much higher rate of getting hired right away, and having job security.
After the financial crisis, corporate accountability has become the number one concern for companies and their shareholders. Senior management relies on Certified Public Accountants for the financial health and integrity of the corporations. Career security is a big benefit to having your CPA.
There is an interesting reason for the increase in career security for CPAs, too. Back in the 90s, we saw a dip in accounting students because the internet boom led a lot of people to marketing and IT degrees. As a result, not as many people were going into accounting fields anymore and the industry started to see a shortage.
Additionally, the Sarbanes-Oxley act passed in 2002 which increased the need for qualified CPAs to enforce higher standards of accountability in public corporate accounting (e.g., SOX compliance). And yet another reason is that Baby Boomers are retiring and leaving the workplace. As a result, there are fewer people in the existing accounting jobs, creating a gap. This is a great time for new CPAs to step up to fill those gaps and boost their careers.
CPAs are typically multi-talented professionals who perform a highly-specialized and mixed set of job functions. They can specialize in auditing, business and management consulting, IT (information technology) and international financial reporting, just to name a few. The diversity is another reason many accounting professionals enjoy their jobs more than those without.
In addition, there are many niche jobs a CPA can do. For example, there are forensic CPAs or tax-specific specialists. You can choose a niche based on your interests. Qualified CPAs can even change niches over time if they decide they want to pursue something different. That could be one reason why CPAs experience more job satisfaction. There is more flexibility than in many other accounting fields.
Looking to make more money in your accounting career? Who doesn’t want a bigger salary? The CPA will definitely help you do that. A study by global recruiting agency Robert Half points out that CPA on average earns 10% more than non-CPA. Also, CPAs with 5+ years of experience see salaries of $80-110K in public accounting firms. The AICPA confirms that having the CPA can accelerate the career of an accounting major. It can also open doors in the U.S and around the world for seasoned international accountants.
In fact, better pay is one of the number one reasons people decide to get their CPA. Candidates make from 10-15% more than an unlicensed accountant peer if they get a CPA. In public accounting, your billing rate can really soar once you become a CPA. For example, you could jump from billing $50/hour to billing $200/hour. Your firm will be making more, which trickles down to you as well, meaning you will make more too.
Now, if you decide you are going for your CPA, when is a good time to get it? Should you begin when you are still a student or wait until after you graduate to pursue the credential? The question that goes along with this is, “When should I start studying for the CPA Exam?” The short answer to that is: as soon as possible!
There are typically three categories of people who sit for the CPA Exam:
Some state boards of accountancy do allow you to take the CPA Exam before you graduate. If you’re a current student, check with your state board to determine if this is even an option for you. From there, you can decide when to take it. In general, we recommend taking it as soon as possible. However, that doesn’t mean you have to take it as a student or immediately after you graduate. It just means that completing the CPA Exam while the information is fresh from school is easier for most candidates. Furthermore, the sooner you take it, the sooner you start reaping the rewards of having it. However, if taking it too soon or when you are not prepared, you could fail. So ensure you allow proper time for studying, whenever you decide to take it.
So, there you have it – my five answers to “Why become CPA certified?” If you are thinking about getting your CPA certification, take some time to research it more. Find out all of the CPA requirements, what will be expected of you, and how you need to study for the CPA exam.
With a CPA, you can earn respect and admiration from your peers. You can stand out from the crowds and have a higher chance of getting noticed for promotions and a new job. Candidates with a CPA prove that they have a commitment to the industry. Want to hear from some people who actually did it? Some of my bloggers share their stories about getting the CPA designation.
Why become a CPA? Well, now you know. In fact, now that you know all of the benefits of getting your CPA, the next step is for you to decide that it’s for you. Furthermore, when you’re fully aware of what goes into it and you’ve made the decision to go for your CPA, it’s a commitment that you need to stick with. Read this guide on how to become a CPA to learn your next steps and move forward.
If you like this post and would like to learn more about the CPA exam, check out my mini-course which is completely free. I have two versions designed for candidates with different background:
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I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites