Accountants ensure that companies, governmental, and non-profit organizations operate efficiently and meet state and federal requirements for financial reporting and paying taxes. Certified Public Accountants (CPA) are accountants who have completed educational, experience, and testing requirements to hold their designation. They typically earn more than accountants without certifications. CPAs may choose to work in financial, professional, public, forensic, or computerized accounting fields.
How to Become a CPA
Following completion of their undergraduate accounting degree, candidates for CPA examination often take CPA degree programs or preparation classes. Experience as an auditor, bookkeeper, or accountant can provide excellent on-the-job training in a professional accounting field.
CPA Education Requirements
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that most employers prefer accounting candidates to hold a bachelor's degree in accounting. You may chose to focus on classes in payroll accounting, financial accounting, clerical accounting, or even international management accounting. Most states require accountants to complete additional CPA courses, up to 30 hours beyond their accounting degree, to prepare for certification examinations and a CPA degree.
Salary Ranges for Accounting Careers and Job Outlook for CPAs
The BLS reports that the median annual income for an accountant in 2008 was $59,430. But at the top of the pay scale, accountants took home a median annual wage of $102,380. According to BLS projections, jobs for accountants and CPAs will grow by 22 percent during the 2008 to 2018 decade, adding an estimated 279,400 new jobs. Growth will be stimulated by new federal tax reporting requirements for corporations. CPAs will be needed to help manage accurate reporting.