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How to Become a CPA - Becoming a Certified Public Accountant, Salary Information, Exam and State Requirements

Updated on September 16, 2015

How to Become a CPA

Would you like to know how to become a CPA, also known as a Certified Public Accountant? Here you will find out the requirements that are necessary by states to be eligible to take the CPA exam, as well as to find out annual CPA salary information. You’ll also find an informative video at the end of this article so that you will be aware of the testing changes that are effective as of January 2011.

What does a CPA (Certified Public Account) do? A CPA is a licensed accountant who has demonstrated by state regulations that he or she is highly qualified for auditing, accounting, and preparing tax returns for corporations, married couples or individuals. Becoming a CPA involves taking extensive accounting classes and receiving an undergraduate degree. He or she then must take an exam and successfully pass it to be able to become licensed; however, the CPA may also be required by the state that he or she lives in to complete other tasks before being issued a license.

Those Who Want to Be a CPA Must Meet State Requirements to Eligible for Testing

A CPA must hold a bachelor's degree with at least 24 credit hours of accounting subjects to be able to take the CPA exam.
A CPA must hold a bachelor's degree with at least 24 credit hours of accounting subjects to be able to take the CPA exam.

CPA Exam Requirements

CPA exam requirements may vary by state; however, to become a CPA and be able to take the test, individuals must first hold a bachelor’s degree. You may major at your local college or university in accounting or even related field for your studies; however, you must have at least 24 credit hours of accounting to be eligible to take the CPA exam. You must also possess at least 18 credits related to accounting ---- business classes are acceptable. A nearby college or university will be able to assist you with taking the proper classes to insure that you will meet your state’s CPA exam requirements that you will be eligible for testing after completing your degree.

CPA Salaries Grows Significantly with Work Experience

CPAs can expect to make almost 100K in salaries after a decade of positive work service.
CPAs can expect to make almost 100K in salaries after a decade of positive work service.

CPA Salary

CPA salary heavily depends on an individual’s accounting position. An entry-level CPA that lands a job at a public accounting firm with no prior work experience in his or her field can expect to make between $40,000 to around $52,000 per year. A staff CPA (accountant) with at least one to a few years of experience generally earns between $44,000 to $59,000 for a yearly salary. Upper accounting positions, such as a senior accountant or an accountant manager with around eight to 10 years of experience can expect to make between $55,000 to $90,000 per year.

States Vary When it Comes to CPA Requirements

CPA Requirements by State

CPA requirements vary by state; however, you can click here and visit Becker to see what is required to take the exam in your state. Simply click on your state that is found on the map and a list of requirements will be shown. CPA exam fees for your state will also be given so that you know what to expect to shell out for testing. You can also watch numerous videos for preparing for the a career as a CPA and taking the test.

Becoming a CPA Starts with Holding a Bachelor's Degree

How to Become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant)

1). Complete a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related major with a minimum of 24 accounting credits and at least 18 subject related credits. Sit down with a university advisor to help plan your career in the right direction. Your advisor will be able to assist you in taking the correct classes that will make you eligible to take the CPA exam after college graduation.

2). Obtain a transcript from the college or university that you attended. Type in “State Board of Accountancy” and the name of the state that you reside within in your favorite search engine. You can also click here for a listing of each state’s accountancy board.

3). Contact your state’s board of accountancy to set up a time to schedule your exam. Keep in mind that states may differ; therefore, you may have to wait until certain dates when testing is provided. Review the video at the bottom of this page so that you are aware of the changes that went into effect January 2011. The CPA exam was completely changed.

4). Study for the CPA exam. There are numerous books and products on the market to help you prepare for testing. Below are a few that you can purchase from Amazon to help you prepare for the test.

CPA Exam Resources and Books on Amazon

5).Wait for your results from taking the CPA exam. After you have successfully passed the test, contact your state’s accountancy for further instruction for licensing. Keep in mind that some states require individuals to work under an already licensed CPA for a certain amount of hours and even take a test before he or she can receive a CPA license. 

How to Become a CPA: Exam Changes Effective as of January 2011


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