How to Become a CPA: Understanding Degree Requirements and What Comes After

How to Become a CPA: Understanding Degree Requirements and What Comes After

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A certified public accountant (CPA) is a qualified financial advisor who has extensive knowledge of finance, tax legislation, and mergers and acquisitions. Advanced accounting and finance skills provide CPAs with various professional prospects. These prospects include employment at large public accounting firms, business ownership, and corporate leadership positions such as chief financial officer. Faulkner University, a Christian liberal arts university located in Montgomery, Alabama, offers the degree programs necessary to begin your journey to becoming a CPA. Here, we offer a comprehensive guide on that journey and what’s required to succeed beyond earning a degree.

Earn Your Accounting Degree

The first step to becoming a CPA is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. This degree will allow you to establish basic finance and business skills since the curriculum offers courses relevant to the accounting industry.

Accounting is one of several fascinating job prospects available in the finance industry. Suppose you want to start a bachelor’s degree in accounting. In that case, Faulkner University’s Harris College of Business and Executive Education provides a Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a rigorous preparatory curriculum to equip students with the information and abilities necessary for future success in the finance industry.

Our accounting degree program will prepare you for an accounting career, emphasizing further education and CPA exam preparations. It aims to develop financial and analytical skills to interpret financial data, prepares students to pass the CPA exams, and lays an educational foundation in accounting to help students pursue a master’s degree in accounting.

Gain Work Experience

The next step to becoming a CPA is to gain the work experience required by your state’s board of accounting. Although real-world accounting experience can be invaluable, you cannot become a CPA without completing the necessary examinations.

Work experience opportunities may be available at various public accounting firms, private enterprises in numerous industries, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. You may specialize in management accounting, financial forensics, business valuation, financial analysis, and other specialties.

Pass the CPA Exam

The CPA license is the most well-known accounting competency proof recognized by businesses and government agencies and can create opportunities for high-level financial positions in prominent companies. You must pass a national exam and meet the state’s Board of Accountancy’s licensure standards. Nationally, applicants must pass the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) four-section Uniform CPA Examination, which includes Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG), Auditing and Attestation (AUD), and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC). CPA candidates may take each section individually but must pass all sections within 18 months.

While state requirements may vary, practically all CPA candidates must finish 150 college semester hours, 30 more than the typical bachelor’s degree. After obtaining a CPA license, you must continue your education and renew your license following your state’s laws.

Complete a Master’s Degree Program

You may pursue a master’s degree to increase your career opportunities. A master’s degree in accounting can be beneficial, but you can also consider a Master of Science in Management program to satisfy the 150-hour requirement.

Pursuing a master’s degree can give you additional business and financial understanding and unique opportunities to learn CPA duties. The courses are designed for accounting bachelor’s degree holders or as part of a bridging program for career-changers without an accounting degree.

In addition, the curriculum includes advanced courses to prepare you for the CPA exam. These emphasize themes covered in the examination, such as business environment and concepts, accounting regulation, auditing, financial accounting, and reporting.

Professional Education Requirements

Once you become a CPA, there are additional certification requirements that must be upheld. In addition to paying an annual fee to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), CPAs must complete an average of 40 hours of continuing professional education annually. If you don’t follow these different processes, your CPA certification will expire. If you want to be reinstated as a CPA, you must complete remedial continuing professional education and be reinstated with the AICPA.

CPA Career Growth and Salary

With changing tax regulations becoming more complex and a growing economy, job opportunities for CPAs will remain high for the foreseeable future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job opportunities for accountants and auditors will increase by 6% from 2021 to 2031, which is as fast as other occupations.

The agency approximates 136,400 job openings annually for accountants and auditors, with CPA professionals having the best prospects. The median annual salary for CPAs was $77,250 in May 2021.

Start Your CPA Career at Faulkner University

Becoming a certified public accountant is an excellent career path with a potentially high return on investment. However, being determined and focused will help you succeed in this career. Faulkner University’s mission is to help you find and thrive in your career. Contact us to request more information on our accounting degree, or get started today by applying online.