An individual who wants to become a tax advisor typically has to attend college and earn a bachelor’s degree in a business- or finance-related field. He may also do well to gain some experience in business and tax law as well as in accounting. Many people who decide to become tax advisors also seek certification or accreditation in accounting or tax advising.
The education a person needs for a career in tax advising starts with high school. During high school, math, economics, and statistics classes can provide a foundation of knowledge useful in college; courses that emphasize the development of communication skills may be helpful as well. In college, a person who wants to become a tax advisor usually works toward a bachelor’s degree in a finance- or accounting-related major. These majors provide valuable basic knowledge of accounting methods and tax law. In some colleges, a person who wants to become a tax advisor may even study a tax specialty while pursuing a business, finance, or accounting major.
Some people pursue tax law degrees in preparation to become tax advisors. These degrees focus more on the specifics of taxation laws and procedures than more general majors do. People who pursue this type of degree typically learn not only about the taxation laws of their government, but also about the intricacies of international taxation laws. This type of degree program may also cover tax laws as they relate to business organizations and trusts.
Depending on the jurisdiction and employer, a tax advisor may be able to enter an entry-level position right after earning a college degree. Many tax preparation and accounting companies are willing to train qualified applicants to act as tax preparers and advisors. Some employers may prefer candidates who have secured tax advisor or accountant certification, however. This typically requires a prospective advisor to study for a significant amount of time and pass an exam.
A person who wants to become a tax advisor may aim to become an accredited tax advisor. In order to earn this title, a person must have tax preparation experience and pass an exam. After gaining accreditation, he must take continuing education courses to maintain his accreditation.
Some people seek the certified public accountant (CPA) credential when they decide to become tax advisors. Generally, prospective certified accountants need bachelor’s degrees and passing scores on certification exams. In lieu of a college degree, some jurisdictions may allow people to take the CPA exam after gaining many years of experience as public accountants.