Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is definitely going to change your public accounting career. It is not only going to have a huge positive side to your career but to your finances as well. You may already know the pros of being a CPA but it’s never easy becoming one.
Your CPA journey can take years of professional account experience as well as education. This doesn’t mean it isn’t impossible to pass the CPA exam with months of study but it will require a very strict study regimen. There is no doubt that it requires hard work even with years of experience and study but the rewards you’ll get in your professional career are all worth it. As an accountant, you can expect to get a raise when you pass the CPA exam.
On top of this, you can qualify for better positions. One thing to consider is most CPA firms don’t bother interviewing non-certified individuals for their senior accounting positions. If you nail the exam, the value and respect you’ll receive along with the financial benefits will be a great career move.
All and all being a CPA definitely pays well and grants you with more things to come but how does one become a CPA?
Certified Public Accountant Exam Qualifications and Application
First things first, even before you think of becoming a CPA, you must meet the minimum requirements. The CPA qualifications are different for each state. While some states have a set minimum semester hours (usually 150 – 160), some require a certain amount of credit hours.
Although the degree programs are must be either in business or accounting, if you’ve taken courses while in college related to these, you may be qualified. The safest way is to check in your requirements with your state board.
Applying to CPA Exam
Once you know that you’re a good fit, you can then apply to take the CPA exam. You should receive pieces of documents that verify your educational requirements to take the CPA exam by your state. You can get this done in your State Board of Accountancy.
Then there is the CPA exam application fee which is usually between $120 to $200. Again, this is different for every state so check in with your State Board of Accountancy. After everything is complete and your application processed and accepted, you will receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS). This document allows you to schedule and take a section of the CPA exam.
Keep in mind that you must pass all four sections of the CPA exam to pass the entire thing. So you must get one NTS for each section they want to take.
Taking the CPA Exam
For those who don’t know, you must score at least 75 to pass each section. Each section of the exam is on a scale of 1 to 99. Since you have to take all sections of the CPA exam, you’ll have an 18-month window to take the rest of the sections. If you don’t, you must start over again.
Hope it won’t happen but if you fail a certain section, you can’t take it until the next window.
Final parts of becoming a CPA
Even after your CPA exam is complete, it doesn’t end there. After you pass all four sections of the CPA exam, the ICPA Ethics exam will wait for you. Don’t give a sigh though, this isn’t really an “exam” exam. It isn’t even comparable with the CPA exam.
You will receive a textbook online to study for the exam. The textbook details the ethical duties and obligations of a CPA. The exam will also be taken online. Again as mentioned many times, this may depend on your state. While it isn’t mandatory in some states, the states that have it may require you to take the exam in person just like the CPA exam.
Before you get your license, there is one more thing. You must fulfill your state’s work experience requirements. Most states require about one to two years of work experience under the supervision of a CPA. In a way, we can say that you must be a CPA to become a CPA.
With that out of the way, you can then proceed to get your license. Simply pay your licensure fees which is going to run you about $250 or so. Given that the entire CPA process is going to cost around $1,500 the licensure fees shouldn’t hurt.