4 Things to Know Before Becoming a CPA

Becoming a CPA

Would you believe there are nearly 670,000 licensed CPAs in the US?

There’s no doubt that becoming a CPA opens a whole new world of exciting opportunities. If you’re wondering what to pursue in college or you’re thinking about a new career choice, it’s worth considering CPA jobs.

What should you know before you start down this career path? Here are four important things to keep in mind.

1. You Don’t Need to Become a CPA to Do Taxes

All CPAs are accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs. It’s a common misconception that you have to become a CPA if you want to work with taxes.

Similar roles that don’t require a CPA license include:

  • IRS Enrolled Agent (EA)
  • Licensed Tax Consultant (LTC)
  • Licensed Tax Preparer

If you’d like to work exclusively with taxes, you may do just fine pursuing one of these related fields. It will save you a lot of extra accounting education

2. Becoming a CPA Requires a Lot of Education

Speaking of education, becoming a CPA requires a large investment of time and money. Each state has its own requirements, but it generally looks like this:

  • 150 credit hours (5 years of college), with at least 30 hours of accounting classes
  • A minimum of two years experience working as an accountant
  • Passing a nationally accredited, four-part CPA exam
  • Ethics courses or additional state-specific training

As you can see, this isn’t a career choice you’ll make overnight. The rewards are worth it in the end, but you need to be prepared for a long and challenging process to reach your goal.

3. CPAs Have More Flexibility Than You’d Think

Not all CPAs work 9-to-5 hunched over their desk with a green banker’s lamp. These days, it’s possible to work flexible schedules and blend accounting work with other fields and interests.

For example, many CPAs find freelance work on sites like https://www.taxfyle.com/freelance-cpa-jobs. Many work remotely and schedule their own hours, offering to be available for clients early in the mornings or later in the evenings.

There’s also the possibility of auditing, teaching, coaching, or serving in court cases. January through mid-April is the tax season crunch time, but many CPAs can slow down and take it easier for the rest of the year.

4. CPA Jobs Have High Potential for Legal Problems

Aside from their families and their health, there aren’t many things people take more seriously than their money. As a CPA, you need to be prepared to take your clients’ finances even more seriously than they do.

If you mess up a client’s payroll, taxes, or estate information — even unintentionally — you could find yourself in the middle of a legal battle. It’s not unheard of for clients (or heirs of a client that passed away) to take their CPA to court over a faulty estate plan.

You’ll need to make sure you’re emotionally prepared for such an outcome. And, of course, you and/or your employer needs to have very good insurance — just in case.

Is Becoming a CPA Right for You?

So, what do you think? Should you become a CPA and start down an exciting new career path?

Becoming a CPA is a big decision, so be sure to keep these points in mind as you make your final decision. All the best!

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