If you’re looking to become a certified public accountant or CPA, you have an abundance of options available to you. However, it’s important that you consider all the aspects of accounting to make sure of a few things.
First, you want to make sure this is the route you’re looking to secure a career in for the moment. Then, you want to know how long of a commitment the program is so you can configure your life accordingly while in school.
Let’s consider the options you have when becoming a CPA.
Salary of a CPA
Salary is imperative, especially when you’re dealing with money every day. You may be asking yourself, “How much can I realistically make becoming a CPA?”
Depending on your skills, qualifications and overall experience in the field, you can make anywhere between $45,000 to $120,000 annually. The average salary for people pursuing a CPA bookkeeper position is around $65,000 as of 2017.
As you first start out your CPA position, expect to make around $40,000. As you gain more experience, within two-to-three years, you can expect around the average salary. This will take commitment, so keep that in mind.
What Does a CPA do Exactly?
Sure, you may know that a certified public accountant involves dealing with numbers. But to what extent, though?
If you’re interested in becoming a successful CPA, you’ll need to understand the many different forms involved with tax services. On the most basic level, a CPA helps people with filing their state and federal taxes. But, if you work for a firm, your job goes beyond that. You’ll oversee tracking all the money coming in and out of the company and organizing it to make sure the company’s funds are being used properly and justly.
Many larger companies face audits from the IRS, which means the job needs to be done accurately. One mistake could cost a company millions, and could likely cause you to lose your reputation. So, it’s important that you’re serious and prepared to work hard to keep a companies’ financials together.
Once you begin working with larger firms, you’ll be given more pay increases and incentives for your job. So, if you work hard enough at the job, you could land yourself a job in a multi-million-dollar company.
How Long Does a CPA certification take?
If you’re interested in becoming a certified public accounting, you’ll need to have between 120-credits to 150-credits of accounting and business courses. You must also hold a bachelor’s degree, which is typically 120-credits.
Each state governs their own licensing process, though most have begun to upgrade to 150-credits of college degree program to sit down for the CPA exam. This involves going through your first year of school for your master’s degree in accounting. This decision could lead you to get your MBA and CPA around the same time, heightening your educational background.
If you’re overloading on courses, you can take the CPA as few as 3 years. However, it takes an average of 5 years for most to meet the criteria of the licensing boards of accountancy.
Before going through the entire program, be sure to look at your State Boards of Accountancy first. You’ll want to know the following:
- Specified number of business courses needed; and
- Specified number of accounting courses.
As of recently, many universities and colleges have changed their accounting curriculums to include a 150-credit program, giving you the “straight-in” after receiving your bachelor’s degree.
Study Before Taking the CPA Exam
Even if you have recently completed school, it’s important to get a few study guides beforehand. Take your time to process through the questions so you can prepare yourself fully for the exam. Certain lessons might have been forgotten since the start of school, so a quick refresher can help you ace the exam.
Just like when you take any other significant test, make sure you’re well rested for the exam. Be sure to get a list of all necessary supplies (pencils, calculators, etc.) that are permitted into the testing area. They may not provide either to you, so you will be expected to bring your own supplies.
Have fun and enjoy the process. While it takes a while, remember your passion and dedication for it. Take in all the information and try to excel. Be top of your class. This opens more opportunities after graduation.