The CPA is one of the most, if not the most, well known credential in the accounting industry. Your manager or accounting professor has likely already encouraged you to become certified, but maybe you’re still wondering, “Why become a CPA?” We list the top reasons and address some common concerns about the CPA path.
According to Payscale, right now the average CPA makes ~$65,000, while the average non-certified accountant makes ~$51,000. The CPA will help you land a much bigger starting salary than you could without it. In fact, with the CPA license, you can make 10-15% more than the average salary in public and private accounting.
In addition, many upper-level positions, especially within accounting firms, require the CPA certification as a minimum requirement. Earning your certification prior to encountering these positions will ensure you’re not stuck at a position/salary cap while you work on getting it later in your career.
Further, as a highly-skilled professional, expect competitive benefits, incentives, and perks. You can take your career advancement into your own hands by earning an accounting certification, reaping the rewards of your efforts with a variety of company benefits and incentives.
The CPA already opens up a world of career possibilities. Your skills will grow and mature substantially and you can work in just about any industry once you get certified—aerospace, business, commercial banking, education, energy, entertainment, government, healthcare, law, media, non-profit, restaurant, sports, and many more.
With the adoption of new technology, the accounting industry will seek more job candidates with the skills to use that technology to greatest effect. AI and software can perform a lot of daily tasks, but this is allowing firms to offer additional services to clients, not fewer. CPAs will continue to provide the high-level accounting expertise to clients. In fact, it is likely that even more positions will require a CPA as they are able to outsource basic tax/audit to AI.
Additionally, the rise of more complicated accounting software is creating jobs for accounting experts outside of the traditional areas. After all, high-quality software will require CPAs in order to be built, tested, and utilized. Expect tech and software companies to start looking for more accounting experts in the future, not fewer.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10% increase in demand for accountants, auditors, and financial specialists through 2026. This growth rate is faster than the average for all occupations. Robert Half agrees, reporting that hiring is up (particularly in public accounting) due to a shortage of accountants.
In addition, CPAs and financial specialists continue to retire at a faster rate than they can be replaced. Throughout accounting, new jobs will be created and old jobs will need to be filled by skilled professionals.
The CPA is an undeniable demonstration of your commitment to the profession. With it, you’ll earn a great deal of admiration. As a CPA, you’ll be charged with protecting the public interest, and taking up that noble cause will place you in an elite group of professionals. Your credentials will carry a lot of weight, and the doors they can open for you are invaluable.
Also, passing the CPA is seen as a rite of passage to many accountants. Having this shared experience will help build camaraderie with your future employers and peers. After all, it is often your relationships that determine your success in your chosen career.
Businesses in many countries regularly do business with companies in the U.S. If you’re working for an international firm in a non-English speaking country and you pass the English CPA Exam, you’ll be able to demonstrate 1) fluency in English, 2) a good understanding of business English, and 3) knowledge of U.S. laws and accounting standards. This is a valuable advantage for you and your firm because U.S. laws can create difficulties for accountants in other countries.
In other words, having your CPA allows you to act as a “U.S. specialist” for an international firm. In addition, a CPA affords you more versatility as companies and organizations continue to operate more and more internationally.
Having your CPA can also make earning a comparable license outside the U.S. easier, faster, and cheaper. You may be able to ignore some requirements (such as education, experience, or exam requirements) in the country you plan to work. This currently applies to Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Hong Kong. Refer to NASBA’s website for more info.
Becoming an accountant continues to be one of the best ways to ensure you will have a stable and well-paying career after college. Every organization, in every industry, benefits from keeping skilled accountants around, and that isn’t liable to change anytime soon.
To learn more about the CPA Exam, including everything you need to know in order to apply, prepare, and study, check out our free CPA Exam Guide.