Is it Necessary to Become a CPA?

Individuals interested in careers often have the same question: Is it necessary to become a CPA? This is a big question because there are so many variables that go into the decision process. Becoming a CPA requires more training, education and cost, but the credential of Certified Public Account is a high honor. Here is an overview of what it takes to become a CPA and variables that may help individuals decide it’s necessary to become CPAs.

What is a CPA?

A CPA is an accountant who has completed the CPA education and work experience requirements set by the state in which the CPA lives and has also passed the certification exam. CPAs work in accounting and tax forms. They provide tax preparation services to individuals and businesses and also do financial statements for large corporations.

Training & Education Requirements for CPAs

To work as a CPA, a candidate must complete a bachelor’s degree program plus an additional 30 credit hours. Because the requirements are for 150 hours, and bachelor degree programs typically provide only 120, the CPA candidate must complete the remaining 30 credits. Some complete a bachelor degree program and take the additional credits, while others choose to complete a five-year program that meets the 150-hour requirements, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In addition to the 150 credit hours, the CPA must have some work experience in the field and pass the four-part Uniform CPA Examination The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants administers this exam. All four parts of the exam do not need to be taken all at once but must all be completed within 18 months of taking the first exam.

CPAs & Accountants – Are They the Same?

The answer to this question is yes and no. While all CPAs are accountants, not all accountants are CPAs. Both can do accounting, but only the CPA can file reports with the SEC. Before a person can become a CPA, he or she must first become an accountant. Deciding if it’s necessary to become a CPA will come down to what the individual wants to do for a career not just now but in the future.

One of the main reasons why many accountants choose not to become CPAs is to avoid taking the CPA exam, which is said to be very difficult and costly. The additional 30 credit hours of study required is also considered an added expense to many. However, failure to have that certification can restrict the number of accounting firms or jobs the accountant may have available to him or her.

Additionally, who’s to say there might be additional requirements to become a CPA in the future? Although there may be only slight differences between accountants and CPAs, the differences that are there are huge, making it almost necessary to become a CPA if the accountant wants the best job opportunities both now and in the future.

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U.S. News & World Report ranks accountants number seven as best business jobs, number eight among best STEM jobs and number 36 among 100 best jobs. Accountants who have gone the extra mile to become CPAs typically have not only more job options available but also bring in higher salaries. For an accountant to be in a position to almost pick and choose an accounting or tax firm, it is necessary to become a CPA.