Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a career popular for people studying accounting and fields related to business finance. Most accountants aspire to earn their CPA. Becoming a CPA entails careful planning and a considerable time investment that eventually pays off in your career journey. To qualify as a CPA, you need to meet the given education requirements, accounting work experience, and other things. Licensed CPA accountants are allowed to venture into their businesses and work for third-party accounting firms. They can also offer an array of accounting services, such as tax preparation and balancing books of accounts. If you want to be a CPA, here is a guide to help you earn the certification.
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Know Your State’s CPA Licensing Requirements
To become a CPA, the first thing that you have to do is verify your eligibility for the certification. Confirm with the board of accountancy in your state the requirements because it’s responsible for licensing you. Different boards have varying requirements for accountants interested in becoming CPA certified. Some variances may include provisions for semester hours, experience requirements, and residency.
Earn a Degree
Having a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting or Finance is necessary for candidates aspiring to become a CPA. Some states might allow candidates with a bachelor’s degree in other business-related fields to apply for a CPA license, so it would pay to confirm with your state. You need a minimum number of credit hours in auditing, accounting, and taxation. The credit hours can also be in the field of business law, management, and finance. Most states require candidates to complete a minimum of 150 college hours, translating to 30 more hours than the ordinary bachelor’s level degree. You may search for accounting programs offering a coursework path that allows candidates to earn the extra hours as they complete their bachelor’s degree. Alternatively, some candidates complete their master’s degree to get the additional hours.
Apply to Take the CPA Exam
You should apply for the CPA exam before taking it. The application fees paid to the state board vary from one state to another. Since the application fee is non-refundable, ensure that you meet all the requirements before applying to take the CPA exam. You receive a document known as Notice to Schedule from the board after approving your application to take the exam. Candidates then use the NTS to schedule their appointment for each CPA exam section. Remember that there’s a deadline for completing the remaining sections after taking the first section of the CPA exam.
Take and Pass the CPA Exam
You need to prepare for your CPA exam before taking it adequately. Since the exam is challenging, ensure that you study intensively for each section. Also, because the cpa exam preparation can be vigorous, consider familiarizing yourself with the skills that each section tests. Candidates must score at least 75 in each section to increase their chances of passing the CPA exam. After you have passed the test, you will receive a certificate that you present together with other requirements to obtain the license.
Fulfill the CPA Work Experience Requirement
The work experience necessary to obtain a CPA license depends on the state. However, most states require about two years of experience under a CPA. The state might also measure your work experience in hours, often between 2,000 and 4,000. Also, the nature of experience, like the type of work or the industry or public accounting firm, can affect your eligibility to obtain the license. Some states require candidates to take an ethics exam to confirm that they comply with professional conduct.
Apply for Your License
After passing your CPA exam and meeting all the board requirements, you can now apply for the license. You need to pay the licensing fee and prove that you have completed all the other requirements. You will receive the permit in your mail. However, you must ensure that you maintain your CPA license by taking continuing education courses. Similarly, your state requirements for maintaining the license will vary. You will need to renew your license after some time, as stipulated by the licensing board.
Use these tips to become a CPA. It’s advisable to collaborate with a college advisor to help you pass the exam and meet the other requirements. Planning makes the process of becoming a CPA smoother.