Advanced Accounting Careers: How to Become a CPA

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Female CPA meets with her client over tax filing.

Are you considering a career as a certified public accountant (CPA)? You may be ready for a new role in a different industry. Or perhaps you’re currently working in a related function, such as accounting or bookkeeping, and you’re interested in advancing your career. Maybe you’ve always been told “you have a knack for numbers,” but weren’t sure how to translate your innate mathematical abilities into a profession. Now may be the time for you to learn how to become a CPA.

Education Requirements

There are two specific education requirements to become a CPA. The first is earning a bachelor’s degree. The second is earning a master’s in accountancy, as CPAs are required to complete 150 credit hours, which exceeds the requirements for a bachelor’s program.

To become a CPA, one must complete 150 credit hours, which exceeds the requirements for a bachelor’s program. Moreover, candidates must meet more specific credit hour components within the 150 credit hours depending on individual state mandates. A Master of Accountancy provides the most efficient and effective path to meeting these educational requirements.

Ohio University’s Online Master of Accountancy is designed for students from various professional backgrounds. It offers an advanced track for experienced accounting professionals and an accounting bridge program for business or nonbusiness professionals aspiring to transition to the finance field. Both tracks entail coursework in accounting, finance, forecasting, and budget management, as the program aims to produce graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to take the CPA exam.

The CPA Exam

Passing the Uniform CPA Examination is a requirement for becoming a licensed CPA. The exam consists of four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). To pass, CPA candidates must earn a minimum score of 75 on each section of the test and complete all sections within 18 months.

Passing the CPA exam is a major career accomplishment, as doing so demonstrates accounting professionals’ mastery of a broad range of accounting topics, such as risk management, compliance, taxes, and auditing. For individuals who are new to the accounting profession, passing the CPA exam not only demonstrates their commitment to the field but also reflects the knowledge they gained from attaining an advanced degree.

The combination of a master’s degree in accounting and CPA certification has the potential to lead to higher-paying managerial or executive positions.

Valuable and Marketable CPA Skills

Businesses rely on CPAs to do more than crunch numbers. CPAs provide data-driven insights that can help companies develop strategies for production, growth, and profitability. In today’s environment, accountants have an elevated and integral role in business operations. Technological advancements, the global financial environment, online retail services, and virtual workspaces have contributed to the broader application of accounting functions.

CPAs must also have relevant soft skills to be successful. They are often responsible for simultaneously managing several projects, which requires strong organizational skills. Additionally, skills in management and leadership, public speaking, and technology, combined with knowledge in auditing, accounting, and tax law, constitute a valuable skill set for the varied range of responsibilities.

CPAs who exhibit the above skills and stay up to date on best practices in the field increase their value to employers and position themselves for future opportunities with management responsibilities and different types of accounting functions.

Career Options as a CPA

Becoming a CPA can be a lucrative career choice, as the profession often offers long-term career security and the high demand for CPAs can aid the job search. CPAs work in a variety of settings, including the public sector, private corporations, nonprofit organizations, government entities, education, and consulting services. They also apply their accounting skills in many ways, such as forensic accounting, international financial reporting, auditing, and tax advisory services.

Earning Potential of a CPA

The median annual wage for accountants and auditors was $70,500 in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Passing the CPA exam often translates to higher income potential of 10% to 15%, adds the BLS.

The BLS predicts the employment of accountants and auditors to increase 10% between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This projection is connected to the health of the economy, with the expectation that more accountants, auditors, and CPAs will be needed to prepare and process financial records. Furthermore, 75% of today’s CPAs will be retiring within the next 15 years, according to the AICPA, contributing to the projected demand for these professionals.

Expand Your Options

There are many benefits of becoming a CPA, such as the current and increasing demand for certified public accountants and the numerous opportunities to use accounting and finance skills in multiple industries. Enroll in Ohio University’s Online Master of Accountancy today to expand your options in the accounting profession or launch a new career in the financial field.

Recommended Readings

Accounting Jobs That Put People in High Income Tax Brackets

Getting Ahead: How to Pay Off Student Loans Wisely

How to Effectively Handle Cost Accounting Standards


Accounting Now, CPA Benefits

AICPA, Becoming a CPA


Ohio University, Online Master of Accountancy

PayScale, Salary for Certification: Certified Public Accountant

Robert Half, “The Top 7 CPA Skills You Need—and How to Get Them”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accountant and Auditors