How to Become a CPA

by Shenron on September 6, 2009

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a lot more work than many people could imagine. Because of this reason, if you’re thinking of becoming one yourself, give yourself a little pat on the back. It’s a huge accomplishment once you make it to the level of CPA and the rewards in terms of salary are often worth the hard work. But, it’s a long road to get there. It’s not just as simple as going to school to become XYZ profession where you get a degree after your required four years. Getting your certification takes a lot more independent study and work.

CPA How to Become a CPA

1.      School: School is obviously the first step in the process to learn about how to become an accountant. Because you’re looking to pursue becoming a CPA, you should probably major in a field of business or accounting. Each state has different requirements but in general each state requires about half of your education be devoted to classes that give accounting or business credits. If you do not meet the credit requirements after receiving your degree, you can always go back to school and take additional courses.

2.      Exam: The exam is really the largest part of the whole process in becoming a CPA. Each state has different agencies that mandate the exam so looking on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant’s website ( should be a good place to start. They should be able to point you in the right direction of who to talk to about taking the exam. Or, talk to the business/accounting department at the university where you received your degree.

3.      Passing the Exam: Passing the exam really depends on a few things. Most of the material covered on the test should be things that you learned about business and accounting while still in school. If the knowledge escapes you, there are plenty classes offered locally and online that will help you get ready. If classes aren’t your thing, self-study books are normally available at all of the major book stores.

CPA 5 How to Become a CPA

4.      Final Steps: It is impossible to give a broad generalization of what you should do once you pass the exam. Each state has its own rules and regulations. Some states only require that you take the CPA exam in which case you’re already good to go. Others require additional exams that test your business ethics and accounting competence even further.

5.      Cost: This last step isn’t really a step in the overall process because once you’ve passed the exams, you’re done and will receive your certification. But, as I’m sure you guessed, the exams aren’t free. If you plan on working for a firm when you get your certification, the firm may pay for you to take the exams. If that’s not the case, you can expect to pay around $2,000 to complete all of the necessary tests and paperwork to become a CPA.

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