How to Become an Accountant

How to Become an Accountant in the US (2020)

Are you good at keeping an account of all that come by in the course of life? If you were that student who always mesmerized the accounts professor with your fast calculation, consider becoming an accountant. To help you get a clear vision of how your pro maths can get you a high-profile job as an accountant, read on. 

For more such effective ‘how to become’ career guides, also consider reading:-

How to Become a Teacher 
How to Become a Life-Coach 

Who are Accountants?

Accountants are professionals who perform accounting functions such as auditing. After becoming an accountant, they can seek a job in either a big firm, a small business, or follow the individual practice. They are crucial to whoever they work in keeping a record of their finances. The principal accounting designations that one can take during their job tenure are:-

  • CIA

Certified Internal Auditor

  • CMA

Certified Management Accountant

  • CPA

Certified Public Accountant

Out of these designations, CPA is the most opted by many who aspire to become an accountant. To understand more about the job role of a CPA, let’s know:

How to Become a CPA – 5 Main Criteria

To understand the term CPA well, one must remember, “All CPAs are accountants, but not all accounts are CPAs.” The foremost step is to pass the CPA exam and meet all the state licensing requirements if you want to become a CPA. CPA stands for a certified public accountant. The main criteria you must follow if you’re planning to become a CPA in the US include the following:-

#1 Fulfil the Educational Requirements

Since the educational requirements for becoming a CPA varies from state to state, we can give a basic idea of the same. A CPA candidate has to show 24 college credit hours in auditing, taxation, and accounting. Plus, 30 credit hours of business-based courses such as finance, business law, and management. In short, be it any state, the basic credit hour is 150 hours. 

#2 Apply for the CPA Exam

Next up, get your educational requirements verified by your state board of accountancy. On acceptance of your application, you’ll receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) to attempt a section of the CPA exam. 

#3 Pass the CPA and AICPA Ethics Exam

The score range criteria for the CPA exam is on a scale of 1-99. To pass the exam and become a certified CPA in the US, the candidate must score 75 (min) in each part. After passing the first exam section, you will have 18 months to pass the next three. If you don’t pass all four in an 18-month window, your first passed exam will expire, and you will have to retake it. This criterion sucks the idea of becoming a CPA, but goals urge us to retake the test. 

After the CPA exam, you must take a short ethics exam, administered by AICPA. 

#4 Get Work Experience

Next up is to check the work experience, which you can check on NASBA’s Experience Verification section. By the way, the necessary work experience required to seek a license to become a CPA is anywhere between 6 months to 2 years. 

#5 Get Your Licence

To complete the process, pay the dues to the state, if any, and seek your license after completing the check. Aye, aye, there you become a CPA and earn a reasonable sum. 

What are the Roles and Duties of an Accountant?

Being an accountant, the professional has to look into the entire money matters and balance all the expenses and returns. The primary duties that you’ll have to follow on becoming an accountant include:-

  • The foremost duty is to abide by the ethics and guiding principle of the region you’re working in
  • Accountants are liable for the profit and loss incurred by those they’re working for: Creditors and Investors
  • Follow all the laws and regulations to ensure the accuracy of the financial documents
  • Prepare tax returns and financial reports, analyze them, and offer solutions if any
  • Offering guidance on the cost reduction and profit maximization

Becoming an Accountant: How Do You Work in Association

Accountants are accountable for maintaining accounting records of companies and individuals who hire them. These accounting records could relate to terms such as:-

taxes; financial standings; payrolls; retail sales; accounts payable; account receivable; investments.

Companies that are large hire, external accountants, to conduct audits on their company accounts. The prime task they need is to check the accuracy of the records and their financial standing. The reason some companies do not use their accountants to conduct these audits is that it’s against company policies.

Most accountants will choose to specialize in one key area, such as bookkeeping, audits, or taxes. Some branch out in more specialties to be able to cover most of their client’s different needs, which usually occurs with CPAs.

So if a person wishes to become an accountant, they must choose which type of accountant they want to become.

Educational Qualifications to Become an Accountant 

Becoming an accountant isn’t a simple task. You need a whole lot of knowledge and skills that make you witty enough to handle the finances. You must be:-

  • pro in mathematics
  • a computer savvy
  • an intelligent and smart to look for the smallest detail
  • proficient at the language you use (prefer English)
  • a people’s person because an accountant’s job is to interact with people within clients of all sorts

With a similar career-interest, you can also try your hand at knowing:-

How to Become a Notary in Florida

Basic Schooling 

To begin with, every student chooses a career during high school years. But if not, then you must make it now if you’re still in high school as this is your ticket to higher education and a great career. Many who get late in deciding a career for them has to go through a struggling phase that demotivates them. So, if you’re certain that you want to become an accountant, get the right subjects in high school itself. Make sure to take up subjects related to mathematics and an elective subject in computers. Since becoming an accountant is ideal for those who are above average in analytical and mathematical skills, charm up!

Higher Studies 

After high school, you must do a two-year associate degree in accounting if you want to remain a general accountant and not get certified. But, the majority of students go in for a four-year bachelor’s degree to become certified public accountants (CPAs). 

It is best to speak to your guidance counselor in school to help you out with your career choices. If you make your mind up to do a two-year associate’s degree, then find a college that offers a good accounting program and enroll in it. Also, remember an accountant with an associate’s degree will do small budget accounting jobs and entry-level jobs. So, choose anything that you do in accordance to that. 

If in case you have changed your mind and wish to do a four-year degree, then make sure to choose an accredited college or university for accounting. 

Accelerated Accounting Courses

Some universities offer accelerated accounting courses for those who plan to finish early. So, you must check with the college you are joining if they are offering such programs. Make sure to choose a recognized university, or else you would end up wasting time, money, and mental strength in studying. 

Also, since technology is present in every nook and corner, make sure you are trained well-using computers. Since these days computers are replacing pen and paper, get your skills nurtured. 

Master’s Degree in Accounting 

Some accountants also choose to venture out further in this path by doing a master’s degree in accounting or an MBA.

If you plan to stop at an associate’s degree, you do not have to come this far. If you have completed a bachelor’s degree or an MBA in accounting, you might want to become certified by the state. But for that, you must have done 150 hours of course work if you do not have a master’s degree.

Once you have the extra 150 hours of course work, you must sit for a 14-hour exam by AICPA (American Institute of CPAs). After you pass this exam, you will seek certification and ready to practice as an Accountant or better still as a CPA.

How Much Do Accountants Earn in the US?

Now we are aware of what accountants do and the role they play; let us look at how much do accountants earn. Like any other profession, even accountants salary depends on factors such as:-

Education; The Specialization, The location, Experience, and Where they Work.

The average salary of an accountant is between $39,835 to $48,376 per year. An accountant working for the federal government will earn between $40,000 to $ 90,000. Plus, if they work for a major corporation, they will earn between $39,000 to $60,000, and an accountant working in a hospital will earn $35,000 to $48 to 548 avg per year. If an accountant works for an individual, he’ll earn about $34,566 to $60, 849 on an average. Accountants who have more than 20 years of experience can go beyond $120,000 per year.

In closing, I would like to add that accounting is a good career path for those who love numbers and calculations; you got the fish in the net. Becoming an accountant in the US or anywhere, so is a respectable and momentary job. So, follow your passion and keep reading our career-guides for a well sought after path. 

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