Jobs That Require The CPA Exam

Jobs That Require The CPA Exam

So you’re about to spend a bunch of time, effort, and money to pass your CPA exam. You may be wondering, what do I need my CPA for? Do the jobs that require the CPA exam even interest me?

For the most part, you can get an entry level accounting or bookkeeping job without being a CPA. But if you’re at all interested in advancement (and pay raises), you’re going to have to pass the exam and get that license.

Jobs That Require The CPA Exam

Accountants can prepare financial statements and taxes, but only CPAs can officially validate a company’s financial information or reports. So if you plan on working in public accounting and managing an audit or a tax preparation, you’re going to need your CPA.

Most accountants will hit a ceiling at public companies, corporations, or consulting firms. There will be a point where you won’t have opportunities for advancement without a CPA license. When I worked in public accounting, you couldn’t be promoted to manager unless you had your CPA.

CPAs have to adhere to stringent education, ethics and professionalism requirements, so it makes sense that a CPA license is required to provide high level services.

Other Designations

Getting your CPA is awesome, and you’ll gain respect from your peers for having it, but you don’t necessarily need it. If you’re working in a public accounting firm or working for a private CPA firm, it’s probably best that you go for your CPA license. But if you are going down a different path, another designation might be appropriate.

For example, if you are going into internal audit, it might be better for you to consider the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) license. Or maybe you want to go into cost accounting; it would be appropriate to get your Certified Management Accountant license (CMA).

The Verdict: Designations Are A Good Thing

The bottom line is that designations are always a good thing; they’re going to give you immediate respect as an expert in your particular area. Whether you want to become a CPA, a CMA, a CIA, or any other host of acronymed words, designations are going to help you advance in your specific field. And, as I’m sure you know, advancement often means pay raise (yay!).

So use this post as motivation to get your studying on. And good luck my CPA friends!

By the way, sign up for our 1 Week Free Trial to try out Magoosh GMAT Prep!


  • Megan

    Megan earned her BS in Accounting from the University of Kentucky and has successfully passed all four parts of the CPA exam. Naturally, after putting in all the time and effort to pass the exam, she decided to become a writer instead. Through her writing, she hopes to share insights and help you on your journey to become a CPA. In her free time she likes to cook delicious food, bother her cats and troll Pinterest for Harry Potter memes.

2 Responses to Jobs That Require The CPA Exam

  1. JRM November 6, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    Hi Megan,

    It’s a great article. Lately, I have noticed that most of the small-to-mid scale companies prefer (not require) CPA designation for the position ‘Director of Finance’. Infact, 7/10 job openings (in San Francisco bayarea) for Director of Finance preferred a CPA. Conventionally, CPA degree was meant for folks in Accounting but lately in many of the companies Accounting team reports to Director of Finance so that might be the reason.

    • Megan
      Megan November 12, 2016 at 8:20 am #


      I’ve also noticed that many people in higher level finance positions (Directors, CFOs) typically have an accounting background and are CPAs. We typically think of finance and accounting as separate fields (after all, they are separate degrees), but the two are often tightly intermingled within a company.

      I’m very happy you enjoyed the article!

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!