Obtaining a CPA license (certified public accountant license) offers many opportunities for the individual interested in such a career. Contrary to popular belief, the CPA does not necessarily specialize in taxes. Rather, there are a variety of different areas in which the accountant may work. This includes but is not limited to forensics, consultations and some may specifically audit. The person may choose to work independently or for a firm serving a diverse client base including non-profit organizations, private entities and even individuals for example.
As with many positions, one cannot simply decide to become an accountant and some educational requirements must be met. Although many positions within this field will require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, some states will require that the person complete a master’s degree program in order to become certified. The education required will ultimately depend on the demographical area the person resides in or anticipates working in and sometimes even the specific field. As late as 2009, 46 states within the U.S. required above a bachelor’s degree by a minimum of 30 hours. There are traditional on campus programs and online programs available to help meet this need. However, some may offer alternate routes to obtain the CPA license.
Experience Within the Field
Another unique requirement that is necessary to become a public accountant is having experience. Many states require as much as two years’ experience accounting in order for the person to meet eligibility to sit for the national exam. This does not necessarily mean working experience in which the person is paid though. Internships, fellowships and assisting can generally be used to obtain the experience that is necessary. The amount of experience can differ significantly from one state to the next.
Alternative Methods of Becoming a CPA
In some cases, the person may be eligible to obtain the CPA license if they meet some special criteria. This can include but is not limited to some odd years of experience providing accounting services for example, even if the person does not possess the above mentioned educational background. Services that may count as experience towards this may include but is not limited to bookkeeping activities, assisting and fulfilling the duties of an accounting clerk are all generally considered. Another popular method of obtaining the credentials needed to become a CPA includes taking non-traditional classes via online for example.
Actually Becoming Certified
To obtain a certified public accountant license, the person must first pass a proctored exam. However, this test is fee based and will require registration. In order to register the individual must show proof of completion of the set criteria, identity and they may be asked to complete and return some other forms as well. This can include but is not limited to proof of residency, transcripts from educational institutions and documents related to their experience. Payment is generally expected at the time of registration. Those who do not complete the required applications and forms can be denied to sit for the CPA license exam.