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5 Reasons to Become a CPA

Updated on March 18, 2014

What's So Great About Being a CPA?

So, you're thinking about a career in accounting. Or, maybe you're already in the accounting profession and you want to take it to the next level. Perhaps you're just thinking of a career change? Whatever your circumstance, you should definitely consider becoming a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA.

CPA's are a vital part of any strong business or organization. In all three major areas of the accounting industry (Public, Private and Governmental) the CPA skill set is valued and respected as the pinnacle of professional achievement , and can equate to job promotions, travel opportunities, and personal growth. And I haven't even mentioned salaries, yet...

Let's talk a little about each of the main reasons why so many people are becoming CPAs. This is not a complete list, by any means, and it's not shown in order of importance.

1. Prestige and Respect

CPA's have a black belt in accounting.

They are respected and admired by their peers, clients, and social circles. Through their training and experience, their virtues, ethics, and character are tested as well as their technical and academic proficiency. They have achieved a degree of expertise beyond that of a 'normal' accountant, and proudly bear three capital letters after their name as proof.

You could say that CPA stands for "Commitment, Professionalism, Achievement" just as much as it stands for Certified Public Accountant.

In short, CPA's are known for:

  • Professionalism
  • Commitment to career
  • Technical aptitude
  • Experience and expertise
  • Ethical responsibility

In today's professional world, these qualities are valued assets in any business. This makes the CPA a sought after commodity among all walks of professional organizations, and a trusted voice in business and financial consulting.

2. Money and benefits

Let's face it: We all work to make money and earn benefits.

Naturally, if you love what you do, the money becomes less important. But, it's still a major factor in choosing a career path. If CPA's didn't earn great salaries, why would anyone put themselves through the CPA Exam? For the love of accounting? HA! Anyone who loves accounting that much needs to get out more often!!

If financial success is part of your motivation to become a CPA, you can breathe easily. On average, a new college graduate with their CPA earns as much as 10% more than a non-certified accountant in the same position, according to the 2009 Robert Half Salary Guide. Obviously, this result is based on an average, and may vary regionally. The news is even better for experienced CPAs. Salaries between $80K - $110K are common in public accounting, and these figures are likely to increase yearly, according to recent surveys.

SmartPros Salary Survey Results

Start Here. Go Places: Today's CPA -- Salaries

3. Job Satisfaction and variety

A CPA is like a financial version of James Bond.

He's well dressed, world wise, uses the latest technology and often finds himself in exotic locales. Sometimes, he even has to take down evil financial masterminds and save the day for his country or firm!

In today's financial environment accounting is an intensely vibrant field full of opportunities for travel, excitement, and job satisfaction. As the global economy becomes an increasing reality, The United States is preparing to embrace International Financial Reporting Standards. This will require a new brand of globetrotting CPA to enter the marketplace, prepared to be multilingual, multicultural, and aware of international business practices.

As financial reporting becomes increasingly complex, there is greater opportunity for criminal activity and negligence. Tighter regulations passed by the Securities Exchange Commission need to be complimented by CPA's with honesty and integrity in order to put a stop to white collar crime and financial misstatements. Forensic accountants working with independent financial organizations, firms, local and state police, the IRS, and the FBI expose fraud and capital crimes. They are frequently called upon to testify during criminal trials as expert witnesses.

As a whole, CPA's are multifaceted professionals capable of performing a variety of highly specialized job functions, including, but not limited to:

  • Tax advisory services
  • Business consultation
  • Auditing
  • International Financial Reporting
  • Information Technology
  • Management consultation

Nearly every financial circumstance in every business environment can benefit from the services of a CPA. It's really up to each individual to find a path that suits their own unique goals. Are you tech savvy? Curious? Detail oriented? Or, are you cool, calm, and entrepreneurial? Maybe you just like your martini shaken, not stirred. No matter what, there's a rewarding path for you as a CPA.

4. Career Security

Have you ever heard the phrase "You can write your own ticket"?

According to Dictionary.com, to write your own ticket is "to set {your} own terms or course of action entirely according to {your} own needs or wishes." Normally, this kind of position is hard to find in the business world. But if you're a CPA, you really can write your own ticket.

There is a shortage of experienced accounting professionals, which puts those with their CPA designation even more in demand. What's more, this trend shows no signs of slowing down.

The shortage was caused by three major problems. First, in the dotcom boom of the 90s, few students were interested in the accounting field. Instead, they chose to focus their education solely on hot new fields like internet technology or online marketing, which left a void in the accounting talent pool coming from the universities. Then, in 2002, the SEC passed the Sarbanes-Oxley act which required far more stringent public corporation accounting standards. This necessitated a sharp increase in the amount of accounting professionals needed, which far outpaced the amount of accounting professionals available. That situation was made worse by the rising tide of Baby Boomers who are now reaching retirement age, and are moving on to a quiet life of gardening and bingo. Put all of those factors together and you're left with an industry in desperate need.

The same problems apply to accounting education. Many professors are also reaching retirement age, and not enough students are stepping in to fill their shoes. This is made especially clear in the recent revelation that over 60% of colleges and universities aren't adding the impending International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) to their curricula. As professors prepare for retirement, they simply aren't motivated to learn these new standards. Consequently, accounting students aren't being properly prepared to enter the workforce.

This all sounds pretty bad on the surface. But, in the midst of adversity there is opportunity. Students and young professionals that earn their CPA now are almost guaranteed to find and secure a lucrative position of their choice. Firms and institutions are falling over each other in the struggle to locate and hang on to the most talented individuals. Universities and colleges will soon be offering compelling incentives to lure CPA's into a teaching career. The advent of United States IFRS adoption is creating a demand for any CPA with international expertise.

In a time when our financial institutions are claiming bankruptcy, our national economy is in recession and even home ownership seems like a distant dream, a little job stability goes a long way. Other industries are worrying about tomorrow. But, as a CPA, tomorrow could be the day you write your own ticket to financial security.

Reuters: Global Talent Shortage Continues in Accounting and Finance...

5. Personal Growth

Improve Yourself and Those Around You

In high school, the popular kids were the football players, the cheerleaders, the trendsetters and the rebels. In the business world, well, it's still pretty much the same, only now some of those people are CPA's. These character stereotypes frequently have the leadership qualities that have always set them apart from the crowd, and they naturally learn to take advantage of those attributes. Prestigious career paths in law, medicine, politics, and finance seem to attract natural-born leaders.

But, there's also room for the shy, nerdy, introverted person to become a CPA. Often, people who were once shy and lacking in social skills become dynamic and gregarious individuals after getting their credential. The skills you acquire in your training to become a CPA will give you confidence in yourself and your newfound abilities. The money and prestige you gain will allow you to have the finer things in life. The job satisfaction you have will make a positive impression on your colleagues. Before you know it, you'll be wondering who that superstar in the mirror is!

Here's another thing about being a CPA: Contrary to myths, you don't have to be a math genius! In fact, although math skills are important for anyone to have, you only need average level math knowledge to excel as a CPA. However, once you are a CPA, your math skills will almost certainly improve. Don't get into this field if you're number-phobic, though. The math is there, and it's unavoidable. This is, after all, an industry based around facts and figures. Just remember, communication skills, creativity, and a good work ethic are just as important as number crunching.

So, in the end, being a CPA does sound pretty great. I know I've enjoyed it for over 20 years. I've made an unbelievable amount of friends, colleagues and contacts, and I've been able to accomplish many of my loftiest goals. Obviously, I highly encourage any one of my readers to pursue this highly rewarding career path.

But, it isn't a free lunch. The CPA earns his/her stripes by enduring a rigorous course of study and training, capped off with one of the most notoriously difficult professional exams in the world: The Uniform Certified Public Accountants Examination. Once a candidate passes the exam, it's time to get licensed, which requires jumping through some more hoops. Even better, once you've attained licensure, you've earned the privilege of working long hours doing tough, complicated, and sometimes tedious work.

Still on board? Good! You'll find that the rewards outweigh the sacrifices as a CPA. But, as in many worthwhile life goals, the hard part comes first, and the big payoff comes a little farther down the road.

Keep at it and you'll find yourself in a great career, doing things you only dreamed about before. When you get those three capital letters after your name, you'll thank me...

First Things First

Put on your training wheels

You'll need to get a background in accounting, of course. That means you'll need to take some accounting classes. How many accounting classes will you need? Well, that depends on which state you plan to take the CPA Exam in. The requirements to sit for the CPA Exam differ from state to state. Visit the CPA Exam Requirements section of my website for more information.

Once you've got some accounting classes under your belt, you'll want to review the information and concentrate on just what you need to know to pass the CPA Exam. Lucky for you, that's my specialty!

My CPA review course is fast paced, exciting, and focused on getting you ready to pass this notoriously difficult test. My lectures and materials concentrate on delivering just what you need to know to pass, so you don't have to study useless or outdated information. I write my own CPA review textbooks to compliment my world renowned classes, so you know you're getting the information from somebody who knows the subject matter. I also update my materials twice per year, which allows you to always have the most current and heavily tested information. Instead of having a random instructor reading from an old textbook or showing you a pre-recorded lecture, you'll get energetic and funny classes that will keep you awake and motivated! And you can choose between three course types: Live, Online, and USB Drive. I teach all of our classes, so you'll always have consistent quality of instruction. Finally, I offer my course at prices that beat my competitors hands down.

By visiting my CPA Exam review website, you can take a look at some of the great testimonials I've received from past students, visit my CPA review course comparison page to see how my course stacks up against the competition, or watch one of our great demos to get a feel for my teaching style. I'm sure you'll see why so many other successful CPA Exam candidates have passed with my course, and achieved pass rates as high as 86%!

When you're ready to sit for the exam, take a look at my other great Squidoo lens, "You Can Pass the CPA Exam!" for a description of the CPA Exam application process, and some helpful tips on test taking. Also, keep in mind that students with a plan are much more likely to pass the CPA Exam. Let me help you plan your exams - read my Squidoo article, "CPA Exam Study Plan!""

Roger, you are awesome. I only wish you could have been my teacher for ALL my accounting classes!

The World Needs CPAs - More reasons why it's worth it to pass the CPA Exam

In our tumultuous financial times, the CPA can be a beacon of integrity and accuracy, helping clients navigate confusing and difficult financial situations. The following bookmarklets illustrate why the CPA continues to play a vital and important role in our society, and reinforce the need for you to pass the CPA exam now!

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