Why Become a CPA: The 5 Great Benefits

why become a cpa

What are the major CPA benefits? Well, becoming a CPA is a dream goal for many accountants. After all, it is a designation that is synonymous with accounting for many in the field.

One of the major benefits of CPA licenses is that they open up industry doors that are closed to unlicensed accountants. You cannot get the CPA certification through education or a degree alone. Thus, it is 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 one that will cost a lot of money to see through to the end. However, the benefits of being a CPA will more than pay for themselves. Most people who decide to pursue the CPA feel confident that the ROI is worth it. Perks of being a CPA include an increase in salary, a diverse selection of job opportunities, job security, and other benefits like the opportunity to travel.

Why Become a CPA? Use Your CPA Certification for Good

You also get the satisfaction of knowing 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. The bankruptcy had a domino effect of losing jobs for thousands of people, wiping pensions, and much more. Because it was a global corporation, the effects went further than just the United States. However, being a CPA means you have the power to help prevent disasters like this.

Most existing CPAs will tell you that becoming a CPA completely changed their lives — for the better. In other words, when you get your CPA certification, it opens a wide range of opportunities. Therefore, let’s take a brief look into what is needed to get your CPA. Let’s also go over the benefits of becoming a CPA.

Why Be a CPA: 5 Reasons

If you’re a college student pursuing accounting, it’s important to decide what niche or certification you want to pursue. As a result, you can put all your efforts into your goals from the start. Besides, having a good plan will save you time and money in the long run. So if you’re on the fence about getting your license and the CPA benefits, I hope this article will 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’ll need to budget some financial resources on things like review materials and exam fees. That said, you’ll make more money when you have it—that’s one of the major advantages of a CPA license. 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.

Benefits of a CPA license include:

  • Increased earning potential
  • Better benefits and incentives
  • Additional job opportunities
  • Greater job stability
  • More job flexibility

Why Do You Want to Be a CPA?

#1. CPAs = Black Belt Accountants

becoming a cpa

Why become a CPA? Well, CPAs are at 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 achieved through advanced education, training, experience, and hard work. It comes with a lot of respect because people in the profession understand how much hard work goes into getting 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 when you hold your CPA. Besides, the CPA Exam itself is rigorous and tests you in many different accounting areas. Moreover, 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. Likewise, they are truly the “black belts” of the industry. Therefore, an advantage of a CPA license is that you can prove that you know what you’re doing.

#2. CPA Advantages: CPAs Are Needed Everywhere

Another big benefit of a CPA license 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 need CPAs for their senior finance positions. Also, it is not surprising that junior accountants with CPAs are preferred when it comes to recruitment and promotions.

As a result of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the workload in the accounting department of every corporation has vastly increased. Therefore, companies are experiencing 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. Consequently, these gaps create a golden opportunity for you to jump into this important industry. After all, joining an in-demand job field means you have a much higher rate of getting hired right away and having job security.

#3. CPA Job Benefits: CPAs Are Indispensable

After the financial crisis of the early 2000s, 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 their corporations. Career security is one of the big benefits of having a CPA.

In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, there is another interesting reason for the increase in career security for CPAs. 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. Afterward, the industry started to see a shortage. Therefore, it’s a great time for new CPAs to step up to fill those gaps and boost their careers.

#4. Benefits of a CPA: CPAs Have More Job Satisfaction

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. Diversity is another reason many CPAs enjoy their jobs more than accountants without CPA credentials.

In addition, CPAs can fill many niche jobs. 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. In fact, job satisfaction is one of the major reasons to become a CPA. CPAs often work in environments with more flexibility than in many other accounting fields.

#5. Why Become a CPA? CPAs Get More Pay

Looking to make more money in your accounting career? Who doesn’t want a bigger salary? The CPA will definitely help you do that. Moreover, a study by global recruiting agency Robert Half points out that a CPA, on average, earns 10% more than a non-CPA accountant. Also, CPAs with 5+ years of experience see salaries of $80-110K in public accounting firms. Likewise, the AICPA confirms that having a 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 biggest advantages of studying for the CPA. Candidates make 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.

When Should You Get the CPA

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? On the other hand, should you wait until after graduating, or are you already working to pursue the credential? What’s the short answer to the question, “When should I start studying for the CPA Exam?” In short, as soon as possible!

Three categories of people typically sit for the CPA Exam:

  • students in college
  • recent graduates
  • accounting career professionals

Some state boards of accountancy 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. But if you take 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.

Other Thoughts about CPA Benefits

Before we end this discussion, I have a few other thoughts about the benefits of the CPA, particularly when compared to other certifications. Plus, I have a few comments about CPA education requirements and benefits.

Benefits of a CMA and CPA

Although some accountants choose the CPA credential, others decide to go for a CMA or Certified Management Accountant. The CMA could be the right path for you if you’re drawn to management accounting. Like CPAs, CMA holders also have to pass a rigorous 2-part exam and meet several experience and education requirements.

CMAs often work as controllers, budget analysts, treasurers, and internal auditors. CMAs can also fill key management positions in big corporations. However, on average, CMAs make less than CPAs. So that’s important to consider the CMA and CPA benefits and cons.

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What about a double major vs a master’s degree?

For the CPA, is it better to double major or get a master’s? That is, is it wiser to double major as an undergrad in accounting or finance? Or should you get a master’s in accounting or an MBA? What will yield more CPA benefits in the long run?

Well, consider one critical factor. In every jurisdiction, you’ll need at least 150 education hours to get a CPA license. Basically, that’s equal to a master’s degree or at least a bachelor’s (equals 120 hours) with additional coursework (30 hours).

However, many states want CPA candidates to have more upper-level accounting classes than they usually receive with a bachelor’s degree. And more importantly, the AICPA has clearly stated that the skills for a CPA license are best gained with graduate-level courses.

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What Are You Waiting For?

So, there you have it – my five answers to “Why become CPA certified?” If you are thinking about the advantages of a 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.

How to Become a CPA

Why be a CPA? Well, now you know. In fact, now that you know all of the benefits of getting a 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.

Further Reading

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 backgrounds:

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For US Candidates
(Those with US degrees or
graduate/live/work in the US)
For Intl Candidates
(Those who study abroad or
graduate/live/work outside of the US)

About the Author Stephanie Ng

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley), and I also passed all 4 sections of the CPA Exam on my first try. Additionally, I have led webinars, such as for the Institute of Management Accountants, authored featured articles on websites like Going Concern and AccountingWeb, and I'm also the CFO for the charity New Sight. Finally, I have created other accounting certification websites to help mentor non-CPA candidates. I have already mentored thousands of CPA, CMA, CIA, EA, and CFA candidates, and I can help you too!

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