How do I Earn a Certified Public Accountant Degree?

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  • Written By: Jan Hill
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 16 February 2020
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The job of a certified public accountant, or CPA, is to keep track of someone's money. Most who earn a certified public accountant degree have a mathematics background. They also typically hold a bachelor's degree in accounting or business administration from a college or university, and some have earned a master's degree as well. Certified public accountants may have successfully passed a uniform test such as the certified public accountant examination.

The global association for professional accountants is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Certified public accountants commonly work in private accounting companies, and some have their own businesses. They commonly do accounting and tax work and audit other businesses, and they may act as consultants. They usually keep business records and prepare financial reports.

The purpose of the CPA Exam is to establish and maintain certification standards for public accountants. To attain the certified public accountant degree, one must first decide where they want to work and make sure that they meet the requirements to take the exam in their chosen location. When a candidate applies to take the CPA Exam, most jurisdictions require them to provide their official academic credentials and pay a fee. There are usually no special requirements for international applicants. After the submissions are reviewed, eligible individuals are invited to schedule a time to take the exam, which is normally completed on a computer.


Candidates may spend many hours preparing for the four-part CPA Exam. Each year, less than half of those who take the exam pass all four parts on the first try. Most jurisdictions allow candidates up to 18 months to pass all four segments.

The parts of the CPA Exam normally include auditing and attestation, business concepts, financial accounting and reporting, and regulation. A candidate does not have to take all parts in one appointment, but cannot usually take the same section twice during one scheduled sitting. Once a candidate has attained a minimum score of 75 or higher on a 0-99 scale for each individual section, he has typically earned the certified public accountant degree. The individual may then use the CPA credential. Most areas require that certified public accountants complete a certain number of hours of continuing professional education to maintain their certification.

Those who achieve the certified public accountant degree usually enjoy a significant advantage in the job market and may earn more money than their non-certified colleagues. Certified public accountants can choose to specialize in many different areas. Some common accounting jobs for certified public accountants include forensic accounting, internal auditing, and tax preparation work. Increased public scrutiny of business finances and company accounting policies may create even more opportunities for certified public accountants, who typically audit financial records on a very thorough basis.

The financial reports prepared by professionals who possess a certified public accountant degree are used by a variety of people for many reasons. Business owners and managers may use such reports to determine how their company is performing financially. Government officials use financial reports to calculate how much tax they are owed. The banking industry refers to the financial reports prepared by certified public accountants to help them determine whether or not to lend money to a company. Other individuals and businesses consider the information contained in financial reports when deciding whether or not to do business with a particular company.



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