A certified accountant is a massive upgrade of a conventional accountant. The latter requires a basic bachelor’s degree in accounting or any finance-related course while the former requires much more than that. The additional qualification and requirement are needed because of the demands of the position.
As a certified public accountant, your job description is extensive. You are a financial advisor, a counselor, a tax expert, a compliance officer, an auditor and so on. Although the pay and financial gains are attractive, it is an uneasy position to attain. A lot of mental and physical effort is needed. However, if you are willing and ready to make sacrifices, you will reach the top of the game. You must become an accountant before you can rise to the rank of a CPA as it is one of the prerequisites. However, the certification needed varies from one state of the federation to another. Educational requirements include completing a stipulated number of hours of postsecondary study. After satisfying the educational requirement, aspiring certified public accountants must also write some exams for certification. These exams are four in number and candidates have a grace period of a year and a half to pass all stages.
Here is a detailed description of how to become a certified public accountant:
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting: To become a licensed certified public accountant, a large number of American states demand that you study for at least 150 hours in one semester. You begin by learning the basic things about accounting before advancing to harder stages like cost accounting where you will be taught a lot of complex topics.
- Think about going for a graduate degree program: It is very unlikely that you will accrue more than 120 semester hours as an undergraduate as this is the convention. To make up for this, some states and institutions merge the undergraduate and master’s program so that you can meet up with the minimum demand of 150 hours. However, this implies that you will spend five years and not four years on campus. You may also decide to spend four years and seek a graduate degree in another institution. Options available to you include Master of Business administration, Master of Science in accounting, master of art in accounting.
- Practice on the field: It is important to put all that you’ve learned into use. In fact, it is a basic requirement in some states. These states demand that you work for at least two years as an accountant. Getting a job shouldn’t be hard since your skill set permits you to work in both the public and private sector. In fact, you can function effectively in the accounting department of any company.
- Take the exams: Since you have equaled or surpassed the minimum work and educational requirements, you can proceed to apply for the certification examination. As stated earlier, this exam is divided into four and all must be passed before you can be certified as a CPA. This exam is put together by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.