Though the CPA is an American-based certification, the benefits of the CPA for international students are significant enough that thousands of international candidates sit for the CPA Exam each year at testing centers around the globe. Our CPA experts have researched the numerous advantages of the CPA and have laid out below the top reasons why international students should earn the CPA and how easy it is for them to do so. In addition, we collected the most relevant information about where and when to take the exam, all of which is explained in the second half of the article.
- Benefits of Becoming a CPA for International Students
- World-renowned Certification
- Improved Skills
- Increased Earning Potential
- Expanded Career Options
- Opportunities to Live and Work Abroad
- Trust and Respect
- Convenience of Earning the CPA for International Students
- Many CPA Jurisdictions
- International Testing Locations
- Pass in 18 Months or Less
- More Information about the CPA for International Students
Benefits of Becoming a CPA for International Students
If you’re ready to accelerate your international accounting career, securing the CPA is worthwhile for these reasons:
- It’s a world-renowned certification.
As many countries become increasingly globalized, they regard the U.S. CPA license as a resource their accountants can use to tap into international markets. The CPA supplies accountants with the global mobility needed to serve their clients and grow their businesses. As an international student, the CPA will empower you to connect your future accounting firm with the U.S. and other countries that have mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The CPA gives candidates from these countries a leg up in the pursuit of international positions.NASBA and the AICPA currently have MRAs with the following countries:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
You can also use the CPA to make yourself more marketable in America. Plenty of multinational accounting firms in the U.S. are seeking accountants who can use their diverse backgrounds and cultures to provide unique insights into business operations.
If you’d like to partner with companies located in countries that don’t have MRAs with NASBA and the AICPA, the CPA can expedite the process by encouraging professional accounting organizations to give you credit for your U.S. education and/or experience.
The CPA is a universal accounting qualification. Mastering the accounting principles in your home country is essential, but using the CPA to broaden your horizons is ideal.
- You will be able to display improved skills to employers.
The CPA Exam is a challenge. It features a complex structure, a broad scope, complicated questions, and a major time commitment. Also, the CPA requirements of experience, education, and ethics are strict. Most state boards expect candidates to have at least 2 years of public accounting experience, 150 credit hours of higher education, and a strong moral foundation. Don’t let all of these details deter you from the CPA. Instead, let them motivate you to earn this prestigious license and use it to demonstrate your impressive skills. Once you satisfy all of these expectations, the CPA will always stand as evidence that you’re a competent accountant.
- You will have increased earning potential.
Not only can the CPA help you enter the American accounting industry, but it can also help you bring home a much bigger salary. According to the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide, the trend among accounting firms in America is to raise compensation and offer higher-than-market-rate salaries before negotiations even start. Some companies also use bigger bonuses, more perks, and additional vacation time to appeal to applicants with accounting degrees and certifications. With the CPA, you can expect to make 10-15% more than the average public or private accountant. The CPA Exam fees may add up, but with earning potential like this, the CPA will quickly pay for itself.
- Your career options will expand.
The CPA opens doors. Just about every industry needs CPAs because no matter where they work, CPAs offer financial advice, manage money, handle taxes, interpret data, lead projects, and plan for the future. Such a vast skill set gives international accounting students many CPA career options and job stability. The rising demand for accountants, auditors, and financial specialists in the U.S. is forecasted to continue until at least 2026. With companies taking extra steps to keep CPAs from slipping away, this certification will preserve you a place in the workforce for years to come.
- You will have new opportunities to live and work abroad.
With the letters “CPA” following your name, you can go just about anywhere. As an international accountant, you’ll be the perfect candidate for traveling and conducting business that grows your company’s international presence. Serving as a company ambassador to the ever-growing global economy, you can travel the world on a regular basis. The CPA will be your ticket to an adventurous life exploring new places, collecting new perspectives, and enlarging your professional expertise without stalling your career. You’ll also be more likely to work for an international company, which means you could settle down for a long-term stay in another country.
- You will earn the trust and respect of your peers.
The AICPA and the U.S. CPA certification have an outstanding reputation around the world. Many professional accounting organizations depend on the CPA Exam to effectively prepare candidates for CPA responsibilities, so earning the certification is one of the most efficient ways to garner their trust for. Acquiring the CPA as an international student also helps you achieve renown as an accountant because passing the CPA Exam can be an arduous task for international students who speak English as a second language. The CPA will permanently set you apart from your peers, and you’ll receive all of the much-deserved prestige that goes with it.
Convenience of Earning the CPA for International Students
It is clear that earning the CPA certification will have far-reaching benefits for you. Below, you will see that it is also no more difficult for international students to sit for the CPA Exam than it is for domestic candidates.
- You have many CPA jurisdictions to choose from.
In America, the states issue CPA licenses, so you have to apply to a CPA state board of accountancy to receive the license. Ten state boards are particularly accommodating to international candidates, so we recommend application to one of those. However, depending on how easily you can meet the requirements, you may have many other options as well. Twenty-two additional jurisdictions do not have residency or citizenship requirements, so you might be able to apply to any one of those. Out of 55 total jurisdictions, there are only 10 you cannot apply to as an international candidate.
- You can take the CPA Exam at several different international testing locations.
Six different countries administer the exam along with the United States:
- United Arab Emirates
Most of these countries have also opened their testing centers up to citizens and permanent residents of their national neighbors. If you are a citizen of any of the countries below, for example, you can take your exam in Brazil:
Antigua/Barbuda Chile French Guiana Mexico St. Vincent/Grenadines Argentina Colombia Grenada Nicaragua Suriname Bahamas Costa Rica Guatemala Panama Trinidad & Tobago Barbados Dominica Guyana Paraguay Uruguay Belize Dominican Republic Haiti Peru Venezuela Bolivia Ecuador Honduras St. Kitts/Nevis Cayman Islands El Salvador Jamaica St. Lucia
Citizens and permanent residents of Egypt, India, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen can test in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the UAE.
- Candidates can pass the CPA Exam in 18 months or less.
The CPA Exam is a challenge, but with a good review course and meticulous time management, you can pass all 4 sections in 18 months or less! Remember that you must pass all 4 sections in a rolling 18-month window that starts when you pass your first section. After 18 months, if you haven’t passed the remaining 3 sections, you lose credit for the one you passed at the beginning of the period. The CPA Exam is available internationally during the same testing windows as the domestic administration (Jan. 1 – March 10, April 1 – June 10, July 1 – September 10, October 1 – December 10), and you can sit for as many sections as you like during these windows. So the time-line you plan to sit for the exam in is entirely up to you! To discover how fast you can pass, you just need to make a CPA Exam study plan.
More Information about the CPA for International Students
Now that you know how beneficial the CPA can be for international students, you can start your CPA journey by learning more about the CPA Exam. The Gleim CPA Exam Guide includes everything you need to know about the exam process, including how to study for the exam, where to take the exam, and how the exam is graded. Access your own copy for free today!