Businesses and individuals alike need to have a good picture of their financial and tax situation. For this reason, accounting professionals are in rising demand. The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation is something that will set you apart from many of the other accountants in your area, and help you advance your career or practice. This article will take a look at the steps involved in completing a CPA program.
Once your accounting degree is attained, your first step to become certified is licensure. Possessing a license allows you the right to practice in your specific state. The needed requirements are education, experience, and a uniform examination. In some states an Ethics exam is required and the rules of professional conduct must be complied. The membership organization that determines the laws for each jurisdiction is called the State Boards of Accountancy.
After satisfying these requirements, maintenance of your license is mandatory to keep your practice operational. This involves taking the correct amount of continuing professional education hours whether it be classroom learning or computer based online accounting programs. In addition, compliance and ethics training is also necessary. Depending on the type of license and your area, your subjects may vary. Renewals are usually annual.
More recently, states require 150 semester hours of accounting education, however these hours vary by state. If you attended one of the top ranked accounting schools, then you will have met your quota. For those who still need some classroom time, you will find online computer-based formats that include courses on Auditing and Attestation, Regulation, Financial Auditing and Reporting and Business Environment and Concepts. The test that is administered according to these sections is always the same with a passing score of 75 on a scale of 0-99. Multiple choice questions, written communication and simulation is the format.
Candidates who apply for a certified accounting license are required to have at least a year of experience under a Certified Public Accountant. Other experience needed is a graduate degree, employed in the industry or working as an auditor or tax professional. It is recommended that you have an AICPA Membership. This is the national membership for the accounting profession that supports the efforts in building the future of accounting. As an AICPA member your professional excellence is recognized in terms of peer review, training and professional ethics along with access to discounts and affinity programs. Both the national and state memberships work closely together to set policies.
In summary, take one step at a time and focus on education first. Satisfy the requirements to become eligible to take the uniform exam and lend yourself to study. Make sure that you understand what’s needed for your specified state and get the experience that is required.