How to Become a CPA in 6 Financial Steps


Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) requires following a financial path that consists of six important steps.

In order to embark on this rewarding career, individuals need to carefully navigate through these steps to ensure success in their journey as a CPA. Let’s explore each step in detail:

Key Takeaways:

  • Decide on your desired financial position and assess if pursuing a CPA career aligns with your goals and aspirations.
  • Plan your higher education path, making sure to meet the credit requirements for the state you wish to practice as a CPA.
  • Prepare for and pass the CPA Exam with a certain score, and consider taking an Ethics Exam if required.
  • Earn one to two years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA to meet the requirements for becoming a CPA.
  • Choose a specialization within the CPA field, such as auditing, taxes, or personal financial planning, to enhance your expertise and career opportunities.
  • Renew your CPA license as needed and consider continuing education, such as pursuing a master’s degree, to further develop your professional skills and knowledge.

By following these six financial steps, you can pave the way towards a successful career as a Certified Public Accountant.

Deciding to Become a CPA

Before embarking on the journey to becoming a CPA, it is crucial to evaluate your desired financial position and ascertain if this career path is the right choice for you. Pursuing a CPA designation requires dedication, time, and financial investment, so it’s essential to consider your personal goals and aspirations to make an informed decision.

Assessing your financial position is the first step in determining if becoming a CPA aligns with your long-term objectives. A career as a CPA offers excellent earning potential and opens doors to diverse opportunities in various industries. However, it also requires a significant commitment of time and effort to acquire the necessary education, pass the exams, and gain relevant work experience.

By becoming a CPA, you can enjoy a stable and rewarding career with the potential for growth and advancement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029. This growth rate is as fast as the average for all occupations, highlighting the demand for skilled professionals in the accounting field.


Benefits of Becoming a CPA:
1. Competitive salary and compensation packages
2. Wide range of career opportunities in diverse industries
3. Enhanced professional credibility and recognition
4. Potential for career advancement and growth
5. Opportunity to specialize in areas such as auditing, taxes, or personal financial planning

Before making your decision, it’s crucial to research the CPA career path thoroughly. Speak with professionals in the field, consider the financial commitments involved, and evaluate your long-term career goals. With careful consideration, you can determine if becoming a CPA is the right choice for you and take the necessary steps towards achieving your professional aspirations.

Planning Your Education Path

Planning your education path is a vital step towards becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), ensuring that you fulfill the credit requirements set by your state. Your education will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in the field of accounting and finance.

To start your journey, it is important to research and understand the specific credit requirements in your state. Each state has its own set of regulations that you must meet in order to become a CPA. These requirements may include a minimum number of credit hours in accounting, business, and ethics courses.

Once you are familiar with the requirements, you can begin mapping out your educational journey. This may involve selecting a college or university that offers an accredited accounting program. Look for programs that align with the credit requirements of your state and provide a comprehensive curriculum that covers all the necessary topics.

CPA Credit Requirements Accounting Courses Business Courses Ethics Courses
New York 33 semester hours 36 semester hours 3 semester hours
Texas 30 semester hours 24 semester hours 3 semester hours
California 24 semester hours N/A 4 semester hours

Table: CPA Credit Requirements in Select States

It is also important to consider the format of your education. Many colleges and universities now offer online accounting programs, providing flexibility for students who may be working or have other commitments. Online programs can be just as rigorous and comprehensive as traditional classroom-based programs, but offer the added convenience of studying from the comfort of your own home.

By carefully planning your education path and ensuring that you meet the credit requirements set by your state, you will be well on your way to becoming a CPA. Remember to stay organized, seek guidance from academic advisors or professionals in the field, and take advantage of any resources available to support your journey.


  1. “CPA Exam and Licensure Requirements.” American Institute of CPAs.
  2. “State CPA Requirements.” Becker.

cpa education path

The CPA Exam is a significant milestone on the journey to becoming a CPA, requiring thorough preparation and dedication to achieve a passing score. This comprehensive exam tests your knowledge and skills in various areas of accounting and finance, ensuring that you are well-equipped to handle the responsibilities of a Certified Public Accountant.

To succeed in the CPA Exam, it is essential to create a study plan and allocate sufficient time for preparation. This may involve reviewing textbooks, attending review courses, and taking practice exams to familiarize yourself with the format and content of the test. Additionally, staying updated with the latest accounting standards and regulations is crucial as the exam may include questions related to recent changes in the industry.

cpa exam

CPA Exam Sections and Time Allocation:
Section Time Allocation
Auditing and Attestation (AUD) 4 hours
Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) 4 hours
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) 4 hours
Regulation (REG) 4 hours

Once you have prepared adequately, it’s time to schedule your exam. The CPA Exam is conducted at designated testing centers and is available during specific testing windows throughout the year. It’s recommended to choose a testing window that aligns with your preparation timeline and allows you to perform at your best.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer

After completing the CPA Exam, you will receive your score report, indicating whether you have passed or failed. Remember, if you do not pass a section, you can retake it during a subsequent testing window. However, it’s important to note that there are limitations on the number of times you can retake a section within a specific timeframe.

Gaining Work Experience

To become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), it is essential to gain practical work experience under the guidance of a licensed CPA, typically lasting between one to two years. This hands-on experience is crucial for honing your skills and applying the knowledge you’ve gained through your education.

Working alongside a licensed CPA allows you to learn from their expertise and gain insights into the practical aspects of the profession. During this time, you’ll have the opportunity to work on real-world accounting tasks, such as preparing financial statements, conducting audits, and analyzing financial data.

Additionally, gaining work experience as a CPA candidate enhances your credibility and demonstrates your commitment to the field. Employers value candidates who have practical experience, as it indicates their ability to handle the challenges of the job and perform at a high level.

Benefits of Gaining Work Experience as a CPA Candidate:
• Practical application of accounting knowledge
• Learning from experienced CPAs
• Enhancing credibility and employability
• Developing essential skills in a professional environment

By gaining work experience as a CPA candidate, you’ll not only meet the requirements for certification but also strengthen your foundation for a successful career in accounting. It’s a valuable opportunity to grow both personally and professionally while making a positive impact in the field of finance.

CPA work experience

The specific work experience requirements may vary depending on the state in which you intend to become a CPA. It is important to familiarize yourself with your state board’s regulations to ensure you meet all the necessary criteria.

“To become a CPA, I had to complete two years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. This allowed me to gain practical skills and apply my knowledge in a real-world setting. It was an invaluable opportunity to learn from experienced professionals and develop the necessary competencies to excel in my career.” – John Doe, CPA

During your work experience, you will be required to document your responsibilities, tasks, and the skills you have acquired. This documentation will be submitted to your state board for review and verification. It is essential to maintain accurate records of your work experience to ensure a smooth certification process.

Gaining work experience as a CPA candidate is a crucial step in your journey towards becoming a certified professional. It not only provides practical exposure to the field but also enhances your employability and sets the foundation for a successful career as a CPA.

Choosing a CPA Specialization

As a CPA, you have the opportunity to specialize in various areas of accounting, such as auditing, taxes, or personal financial planning, allowing you to develop expertise in your chosen field. Specializing in a specific area can open up new career opportunities and enhance your marketability in the accounting industry. Let’s explore these CPA specializations in more detail:


One of the most common CPA specializations is auditing. Auditors play a crucial role in assessing the accuracy and reliability of financial statements, ensuring compliance with accounting standards and regulations. They review financial records, analyze internal controls, and provide recommendations for improving financial processes.


Another specialization within the CPA profession is tax accounting. Tax accountants help individuals and businesses navigate the complex world of tax compliance. They prepare tax returns, advise on tax planning strategies, and ensure compliance with ever-changing tax laws. With tax regulations constantly evolving, tax accountants are in high demand.

Personal Financial Planning

CPAs specializing in personal financial planning assist individuals with managing their finances and planning for their financial future. They provide guidance on budgeting, investment strategies, retirement planning, and estate planning. Personal financial planning is a rewarding specialization that allows CPAs to provide personalized advice to individuals and help them achieve their financial goals.

By choosing a CPA specialization, you can focus your career on a specific area of expertise that aligns with your interests and goals. Whether you prefer working with numbers, conducting audits, or helping individuals with their financial plans, there is a specialization that’s right for you. Embrace the opportunity to develop expertise in your chosen field and take your accounting career to new heights as a specialized CPA.

CPA Specialization

Continuous learning and growth are integral to a successful CPA career. As a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), it is essential to stay updated with the latest industry trends, regulations, and practices. This requires the renewal of your CPA license periodically, as required by your state’s licensing board.

Renewing your CPA license ensures that you maintain your professional standing and stay up-to-date with the ever-evolving field of accounting. It also demonstrates your commitment to upholding the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.

In addition to license renewal, it is beneficial to consider opportunities for further study or obtaining a master’s degree. Continuing your education allows you to deepen your knowledge in specialized areas, broaden your skillset, and enhance your professional expertise.

By pursuing additional education, you can expand your career opportunities and increase your value in the job market. Whether it’s acquiring advanced knowledge in auditing, taxation, or personal financial planning, specialized education can open doors to new possibilities and help you establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field.


Q: What are the financial steps to become a CPA?

A: The financial steps to become a CPA include deciding on the financial position you want, planning your education path to fulfill credit requirements, taking and passing the CPA Exam, earning the required work experience, choosing a CPA specialization, and renewing your license as needed.

Q: How do I decide if becoming a CPA is the right choice for me?

A: To decide if becoming a CPA is the right choice for you, it is important to assess your desired financial position and determine if pursuing a CPA career aligns with your goals and aspirations.

Q: What should I consider when planning my education path to become a CPA?

A: When planning your education path to become a CPA, make sure to carefully consider the credit requirements for your state and ensure that you fulfill them through your higher education choices.

Q: What is the CPA Exam and what score do I need to pass?

A: The CPA Exam is a comprehensive exam that aspiring CPAs must take and pass. The required passing score varies by state. Additionally, some states may require you to also take an Ethics Exam.

Q: How much work experience do I need to become a CPA?

A: Typically, individuals need to earn one to two years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA to become a CPA themselves.

Q: Should I choose a specialization as a CPA?

A: Choosing a CPA specialization can be beneficial for career growth. Some specializations to consider include auditing, taxes, or personal financial planning.

Q: What should I do to continue my professional growth as a CPA?

A: To continue your professional growth as a CPA, make sure to renew your CPA license as needed. Additionally, considering further study or pursuing a master’s degree can help enhance your expertise in the field.