Should I Get My CPA?

Shaun Enders

If you are pursuing a career in accounting, earning your CPA to become a Certified Public Accountant could open doors to better jobs and higher salaries, but it’s not an easy task. You can expect to invest hundreds of hours in education and may also have to gain experience working as an accountant before you can take the test. Only 50% of individuals who take the four-part exam pass on their first try, according to an infographic from

However, you’ll quickly discover that the rewards from all this hard work add up, with more job opportunities, better pay, and prestige that comes from knowing you are recognized as meeting or exceeding the industry standards for accountants.

Earning Power of CPAs

The Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics pinpoints the median pay for accountants and auditors in 2021 (the last year for which statistics are available) at $77,250 annually. The median annual wage for all workers in that year was $45,760.

An accountant is already a high-earning position, but you can increase your salary by 10% to 15% by earning your certification in the field. The Department of Labor does not share the salaries for CPAs separate from non-certified accountants.

However, a survey by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants found that the average CPA salary is $119,000. A brand-new CPA with less than a year of work experience can enter the field making roughly $66,000, according to the same survey.

Job Opportunities for CPAs

Accounting jobs in the U.S. are growing as fast as the national average of 7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Roughly 135,000 new accounting and auditing jobs are projected to open each year between now and 2030. Some of these will come from accountants retiring or changing professions, while some will arise from job creation as new companies are launched or companies grow large enough to need a dedicated CPA or a full accounting team.

Accountants with a CPA have many opportunities available to them. In addition to working as a CPA for a company or starting your own private practice, you can work as a tax accountant, financial manager, or auditor. You can work your way up to a controller or chief financial officer (CFO) of a corporation. C-level executives earn a median annual salary of $98,980, according to Department of Labor statistics.

With your CPA, you can also enter other fields related to finance, such as financial forensics, business valuation, or financial analysis. According to Department of Labor statistics, financial analysts earn a median salary of $81,410 per year.

What Does It Mean to Be a CPA?

A CPA is a professional certification that shows that you have passed a rigorous test and that you meet the highest standards of professionalism and ethics for the financial industry. CPA requirements vary by state, but most involve at least 150 credit hours in college-level accounting courses, some professional experience as an accountant, and a four-part exam. You may also need to take an ethics exam or course to earn your CPA.

To maintain your certification, you’ll need to take continuing education courses based on your state’s requirements and timeline.

If you’ve worked in accounting for a year — or even more — and decide you want to take your career to the next level, earning your CPA is a solid step to increasing your earning power and job opportunities.

In summation, if you have the opportunity and desire to become or pass the CPA exam, you will ultimately create a ton of upside and earning power no  matter your geographic location.

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