If you’re looking for work while pursuing the CPA license, you can use your progress to your advantage as a job applicant. No matter where you are in the process, it’s important to demonstrate to future employers that you’re committed to earning the CPA. You’re doing it so you can get a better job, but you may be able to get that job before you actually complete the CPA requirements. You just need to learn how to write a CPA candidate resume.
You should definitely say that you’re going after the CPA license in your resume. This information can make you attractive to companies, so you don’t want to miss on out on this chance to market yourself. Hoping your CPA progress will come up in the interview could cost you the chance to get the interview at all. With that in mind, plan to include it and follow these tips to do so.
The best way to decide where in your resume you should include your CPA status is to determine the story you are trying to tell and how your pursuit of the CPA enhances your story. You’ll want to keep your objective and ideal job in mind while deciding how the CPA fits on your resume.
If you’ve been an accountant for years and are pursuing one of the many CPA career options, putting your exam progress in a notable spot is a beneficial move.
If you’re trying to land your first accounting job, you probably don’t have a lot of applicable work experience. But if you have passed all or most of the CPA Exam, you’ll want to highlight your exam success specifically.
Giving your CPA Exam experience the spotlight is also a good idea if you’re a student looking for an accounting internship and you’ve already passed a section or two.
Research the position you desire and see if your history with the CPA could set your resume apart. If it will, insert a section called Certifications near the top of your resume and detail how much of the CPA Exam you’ve completed so far. This section is even more essential if and when you have other certifications to add to it. We discuss improving your resume with other certifications further down this page.
If you know your target company really prizes the CPA, you should mention your certification progress in your profile, objective statement, or summary statement. This will allow it to catch the eye of the company right away. Mentioning your CPA progress on your cover letter is also a great idea, providing it is relevant to the job you’re applying for.
If something other than passing the CPA Exam is your greatest career strength, you can still include a Certifications section in your resume, but you’ll should keep it farther down the page.
If you don’t have room to make a new section, you can add your CPA Exam status to your Professional Development section or to the Education section along with your degree(s).
If you’ve just started the CPA exam process, you should provide your CPA candidate context under the Professional Development or Education sections of your resume. You should also include the exam date for your first section. It would look something like this:
If you’ve already passed a section, you should state which sections you’ve passed and include the dates of any testing appointments you’ve scheduled. You could include bullets like this:
Perhaps you discovered the benefits of taking the CPA Exam as a student and are now trying to break in to the industry as a recent graduate with four passed exam sections under your belt. You’ve met the education requirement but haven’t finished the experience requirement. In that case, you can format an entry under your Certifications section like this:
As an accountant trying to jumpstart your career at a new place with a new title, you can list how many of the exam sections you’ve passed and all the other CPA requirements you’ve fulfilled as well. Your resume items could look like this:
You do not need to detail your scores for passed sections, and we don’t recommend it. Your scores do not add much value to your resume, and they can actually distract from the point you’re trying to emphasize–you passed.
At the end of the day, the CPA Exam sections you’ve passed verify that you have particular skills. You should include those individual skills under your Skills section of your resume.
Even if you’ve completed all of the requirements for the CPA license, you cannot place the letters CPA behind your name until you’ve been officially licensed. Wait until you are officially licensed because using them before then is illegal.
Once you’re enjoying the benefits of your CPA license, you can continue to add value to your resume by adding additional certifications.
Earning certifications after you’re a CPA has several benefits:
Once you’ve made the decision to get a new certification, you’ll need to decide on which one.
Cost Management Accountant
Institute of Managerial Accountants
|Allows you to say you…|
|can analyze and manage costs to select and prioritize projects with the highest value.|
|have a broad, yet specialized, understanding of cost accounting.|
Certified Internal Auditor
Institute of Internal Auditors
|Allows you to say you…|
|know internal auditing and its standards.|
|have a basis for an opinion on the effectiveness of an internal audit program.|
|know how to manage and hold an internal audit staff to the high standards of the Institute of Internal Auditors.|
|are able to certify your audit work outside of the U.S.|
Internal Revenue Service
|Allows you to say you…|
|can complete tax returns and represent taxpayers in all 50 states.|
|are able to work internationally and help prepare U.S. taxes for international clients.|
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