Is the CPA Required to Become an Accountant?

Hey! Let’s get this show on the road. Is the CPA required to become an accountant? No. Well…

Is the CPA Required to Become an Accountant?

“That’s all Folks!”

Wait, wait, wait. Where are you going? There is more to talk about. Although the CPA license is not required to become an accountant, it most certainly does not hurt your job prospects in becoming an accountant and your career trajectory in a public accounting firm and/or private industry.

Career Path and Position: Is the CPA Required to Become an Accountant?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Most employers require a candidate to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Certification within a specific field of accounting improves job prospects. For example, many accountants become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).”

However, depending on the type of job within accounting that you are pursuing and the position level of that job, the need for the CPA license may waver. If your desire is to become a bookkeeper, you probably do not need the CPA license. If your desire is to become a managerial accountant, you could probably become a Certified Management Accountant instead of a Certified Public Accountant. If your desire is to become a systems guru, you could probably become a Certified Information Systems Auditor instead of a Certified Public Accountant. In short, the type of accounting work that you intend on doing would most likely determine whether a CPA license would be beneficial to your immediate career path. However, if your desire is to become a bookkeeper, managerial accountant, or systems guru, you are more than welcome to pursue a CPA license in addition to or instead of other certifications.

Additionally, if you are right out of school and applying for an entry level position at a Big 4 Public Accounting Firm or a private company, you will most likely not need to be a CPA upon applying. After all, for most jurisdictions, work experience is a requirement to become licensed. So without such work experience, it would be unreasonable to expect for you to be licensed. Depending on your employer, as you progress through your career, you may be expected to obtain the CPA license.

If the requirement or expectation of a CPA license is not enough motivation, you should consider the following statistic provided by NASBA: “CPAs can earn between 5% and 15% more than their non-credentialed counterparts.” We are talking some serious moolah. Ask your current employer or potential employer if the CPA license is required for you either now or in the future.


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