So You Want To Be A CPA

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Environmental accounting. International accounting. Forensic accounting.

It’s a good time to be a numbers person. There’s a wide array of interesting career choices and the job outlook is bright. In fact, a survey of employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers ranks accounting as the most sought after degree for 2005.

If you go a step farther and become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), your marketability—and potential salary—rise even more.

So what does it take to get certified?

Typically, you’ll need an additional 150 credit hours beyond your bachelor’s degree. Most universities offer these as part of a graduate program. You can choose to specialize in accounting or take a more general curriculum toward a degree such as Master of Business Administration.

You’ll also have to sit for a national examination called the Uniform National Certified Public Accountant Exam. The test, which is comparable to the bar exam attorneys must take, is computerized, and offered at locations around the country on a regular basis.

While the exam is national, your CPA license will be issued from, and regulated by, the Board of Professional Regulation in the state where you live. Rules governing CPA licensure differ by state. For instance, some mandate a certain number of hours of professional work experience before your certificate is granted. Check with your state Board of Accountancy to determine what requirements apply to you.

Earning your CPA certificate takes effort. But if accounting is your calling, adding the credential to your name can lead to exciting opportunities in an expanding, dynamic field.

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