How to Write a CPA Candidate Resume

Writing a cpa candidate resume

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.

Tips for Writing 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.

Use your CPA status to tell the story of your career

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 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 sections or two.

Put your CPA Exam progress in the most applicable spot

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).

Be specific about your exam success

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:

  • Candidate for the Uniform CPA Exam, testing appointment for FAR on 1/14/2017

 
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:

  • Candidate for the Uniform CPA Exam
    • Passed AUD and FAR
    • Testing appointment for BEC on 11/29/2017

 
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:

  • Candidate for the Uniform CPA Exam
    • Completed all four sections of the CPA Exam in September 2017
    • Completed all 150 credit hours of the education requirement
    • Experience requirement in progress

 
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:

  • Candidate for the Uniform CPA Exam
    • Passed FAR, AUD, and BEC
    • Testing appointment for REG scheduled for 1/8/2018
    • Completed education requirement of 150 credit hours
    • Completed experience requirement of two years

 

Avoid distracting from your CPA progress or leaving details out

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.

Build on your CPA resume with more certifications

After 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:

  • Many firms will pay for exam materials and testing fees while you’re working for them
  • Some firms offer bonuses based on completing certain certifications
  • Gaining new certifications demonstrates initiative and competency beyond the minimum
  • Shows a strong personal commitment to due professional care
  • Gives additional justification for promotion and salary increases
  • Provides CPE hours while passing certification exams
    • The amount of CPE credits varies by State Board.

 
Once you’ve made the decision to get a new certification, you’ll need to decide on which one.

CMA
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.
CIA
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.
EA
Enrolled Agent
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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