How to Become a CPA?

Certified Public Accountant

Certified public accountants pore through financial records and organize these resources for filing or easier financial operation assessments. They're charged with making sure all client materials are accurate and that taxes can be paid properly by a certain deadline. For big organizations that must meet complex regulations and comply with certain laws when filing taxes, certified public accountants are the navigators that steer them through these choppy waters and suggest ways to cut costs and improve profits at the same time.

With online CPA schooling, you can study and prepare for coursework without disrupting important parts of your lifestyle. Online courses allow you to design your own schedule, learn at your own pace and prepare for the steps CPAs must take to pursue employment, such as the meeting state requirements and passing a national exam.

Are Online CPA Programs for You?

Here are some things to consider when choosing an online CPA program:

  • Most CPAs work in office settings are at home, and the majority of them work full-time, though many work for longer periods during particular parts of the year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics[i].

  • While the professional experience they require varies by employer, all CPAs must attain a license with a state's Board of Accountancy, which usually requires 150 hours of college coursework - an amount that exceeds what it takes to get an ordinary bachelor's degree.

  • CPAs also need to pass the four-part Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

  • While not all accountants become CPAs, all individuals filing reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission must be CPAs as required by law, which may make the certification a valuable tool for employment.

  • Before signing up for online courses, make sure the work you do prepares you for particular state regulations and trains you to take the Uniform CPA Examination.

CPA Career Paths and Potential Salaries

There are many career paths you may choose to pursue after attending online courses in a CPA program. These are just a few routes you could choose to pursue that may require many of the skills that CPAs master over the course of their schooling and passing appropriate exams.

Accountants and Auditors[i]

These professionals organize and study financial statements to make sure businesses and individuals follow the law when preparing taxes. Moreover, they also review these materials to make suggestions to management about accounting best practices and how the organization could save money in the future.

  • 2012 median annual salary: $63,550

  • Job growth through 2022: 13 percent (as fast as average)

  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree

Budget Analysts[ii]

Budget analysts work with businesses and organizations, analyzing their spending history and identifying how these companies can leverage their assets to meet organizational goals. They work with specific project managers to go over budgets and make sure assets are used effectively and within the compliance of the law.

  • 2012 median annual salary: $69,280

  • Job growth through 2022: 6 percent (slower than average)

  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree

Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks[iii]

Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks are in charge of producing the financial records used by budget analysts and accountants. They keep track of an organization's spending, recording all necessary transactions and updating statements. At the same time, they are expected to check all relevant files for accuracy and produce reports such as balance sheets, income statements and more.

  • 2012 median annual salary: $35,170

  • Job growth through 2022: 11 percent (as fast as average)

  • Entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent


[i] bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-1

[ii]bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-7

[iii]bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm