For those seeking success in the accounting field, getting a credential like the certified public accountant (CPA) designation is essential. A certified public accountant is an individual who has obtained a state license to practice accounting.
To become one, you must first take and pass the Uniform CPA Exam and get the necessary license. After spending many years in school, working in the accounting field, and studying for the test, one may finally call themselves a certified public accountant.
The CPA designation offers accountants several advantages, including higher salaries, more job security, and more career options. So, in this post, we will discuss the necessary measures you may take to get your CPA certification.
How Do You Get Certified as a Public Accountant?
Earning a CPA certification is a lengthy and challenging procedure that assures the greatest fiscal and ethical standards. The effort is well rewarded as it can lead to a promotion to a higher level of accounting at a large corporation.
With a CPA license under your belt, you can help businesses thrive financially by analyzing financial data and conducting audits, making you the jack-of-all-trades accountant.
There is no one set of standards or criteria in the country for obtaining a CPA license; instead, each state provides its licenses. CPAs must meet four essential requirements: education, experience, test, and ethical exam. And it’s also worth mentioning that all CPAs are accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs. So, regardless of your niche, anyone from tax accountants to bookkeepers can become a certified CPA.
Qualifications in Terms of Education
Aspiring CPAs will find that each state has its unique set of educational prerequisites.
CPA test applicants must have at least 120 college credit hours in accounting, business, or similar subjects. The minimum number of college credits needed to qualify for a license varies by state but is usually around 150.
Students may complete the 150 credit hours by taking graduate-level courses, enrolling in a bachelor’s program, or getting a master’s degree.
Is a Master’s Degree in Accounting Required to Become a CPA?
According to the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants), one doesn’t have to get a master’s degree to meet the requirement of 150 semester hours. They may complete the requirements as undergraduates or as graduates.
The CPA Exam
After meeting the educational prerequisites, applicants may apply for the test. A candidate for the CPA examination, which is administered by the AICPA, receives a Notice To Schedule (NTS) after their application has been received and approved.
The overall time to complete the four components of the exam is four hours, spread out across many testing windows. All four components must be finished in 18 months. Parts of the examination include:
- Regulation (REG);
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR);
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC);
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD).
A score of 75 or above is required for each section for candidates. Reports of section scores use a scale from 0 to 99. Scaled scores on multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations are generated using algorithms that account for accurate answers and question complexity.
Studying for the CPA Exam
Since the CPA test includes numerous subjects at varying ability levels, many fail and have to repeat it, often many times. So, planning your studies is advised.
Flashcards, video lectures, textbooks, and live test prep courses are great options. In preparing to study, think about the methods that have proven effective for you in the past. To get the most out of these tools, figure out what your optimal study method is and stick to it.
Pass the CPA Exam
After passing the first test portion, you have 18 months to pass the remaining three sections otherwise the exam will expire. After completing the first four parts of the CPA test, you must next take a short AICPA-administered ethics exam.
The ethics section of the CPA exam is designed to test a candidate’s readiness to deal with ethical dilemmas in the workplace. Even if the ethics test may not be required in your jurisdiction, you should nonetheless double-check with the relevant regulatory body. This test may be done as often as you want since it is so simple.
To qualify for a CPA license in many jurisdictions, prospective candidates must demonstrate extensive expertise in public accounting. Again, the kind and quantity of experience necessary vary by state, so make sure you visit the NASBA’s Experience Verification for facts about your state.
Becoming a Certified Public Accountant
After completing all of the steps necessary to become a certified public accountant in your state, including the required coursework, work experience, and passing the CPA test, you may apply for your license via the state’s Board of Accountancy.
As soon as you have your license in hand, people will treat you more seriously and more opportunities will present themselves to you. There are many ways to complete the voyage, and each one might feel like a major undertaking. Refer to this post if you need help figuring out how to become a CPA.