CPA is a designation that is given to accountants who have passed the National Uniform Examination and have also met other certifying requirements. CPAs have an outstanding knowledge of finance and their expertise is valued everywhere, from the industries using high-level technology to music or to the fast paced world of electronic commerce. This designation is considered as a stepping stone for any business career that you can imagine. CPAs are accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs because a CPA has stringent state licensing that involves examination, education and experience.
Students who are interested in business activities might want to explore the field of public accounting. Often they need to have a bachelor degree, but if you want to become a CPA you need to pass a series of rigorous tests that are administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. A career in this field requires a lot of skill, application of technology and aptitude. To become a CPA, you need skills related to problem solving and communication along with an outstanding knowledge of business. You need to have a license for practicing public accounting, usually issued by the state board of accountancy. There are variations in the licensing by the state, but the minimum necessary elements to qualify for the certification are:
. You need to decide where you want to be licensed and then apply to that jurisdiction. The requirements to become a CPA and the obligations and rights of a licensed CPA are specified in the laws and regulations in 54 United States jurisdictions.
. The next step is to review the Uniform CPA Candidate Bulletin. It is intended for people who are planning to take a Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination. It can help you in understanding the methods of applying, registering and taking the exam. It also offers general information related to preparation and content of examination. This bulletin can be accessed online.
. The third step is to apply for the exam. The state boards of accountancy in several states in the US use CPAES as agents, whom you can either call or get in contact with through your board of accountancy.
. Complete the application form, submit it and make the payment of fees. The form should be submitted with the other required documents to the proper address. Since the rules vary according to the jurisdiction, you need to follow the information about fee payment provided by your board. Your board of accountancy contacts you once the application has been reviewed. This initial application process takes six to eight weeks.
. After applying and being deemed eligible you get a NTS (Notice to Schedule) for every exam section you are approved for taking. Schedule your test appointment once you receive an NTS. Take the exam as soon as you are ready.
You have to complete a program of study in accounting from an accredited college or university. The AICPA is a national professional organization and it recommends at least 150 semester hours of college study. Some states even require the CPAs to take regular professional education courses to keep their skills sharp and retain the professional licenses.
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