How to Become an Accountant

Four Parts:High School EducationCollege EducationWork ExperienceCPA/CMA Licensing

Accountants are highly trained financial professionals who specialize in preparing financial documents like taxes. The most common accounting career pathway is to become a certified public accountant (CPA). Accountant graduates may also choose to be auditors, government accountants and management accountants. Find out how to become an accountant and start your schooling today.

Part 1
High School Education

  1. Image titled Become an Accountant Step 1
    1
    Foster a proficiency for mathematics and computers. Take finance classes in high school, if they are offered on your campus.
  2. Image titled Become an Accountant Step 2
    2
    Take college entrance exams. ACT and SAT scores can be used to apply for bachelor's degree programs.
  3. Image titled Become an Accountant Step 3
    3
    Research state licensing requirements. Although they can change every few years, some states have several tracks to becoming a licensed CPA, including associate or bachelor's degrees.

Part 2
College Education

  1. Image titled Become an Accountant Step 4
    1
    Apply for a degree program in accountancy. Depending upon your state accountancy requirements, you can do 1 of the following:
    • Earn a 2-year associate's degree in accounting. You should look for programs that have placement into entry-level positions and aid in passing the uniform accounting exams. You may be required to have 2 years of work experience before becoming a licensed CPA, rather than 1.
    • Earn a 4-year degree. This is a better path if you are unsure of the state where you will want to practice. With more educational hours, you may only need 1 year of work experience before you apply for your license.
    • Consider a Masters Program. If you have been in the business world and decide a CPA may help you advance your career, consider Masters degrees focused on CPA preparation.
  2. Image titled Become an Accountant Step 5
    2
    Work an internship during college or during your summer vacations. Depending upon the work you do, an internship can be used as your work experience required for licensing and/or job placement upon graduation.

Part 3
Work Experience

  1. Image titled Become an Accountant Step 6
    1
    Apply for an entry-level position at the end of your college degree program. Find a position where you can work under a licensed accountant, so that you can work toward earning your license.
  2. Image titled Become an Accountant Step 7
    2
    Work for 1 to 2 years for a licensed accountant.

Part 4
CPA/CMA Licensing

  1. Image titled Become an Accountant Step 8
    1
    Take exam prep courses. The uniform accountancy examinations are extremely difficult and require preparation and review over the course of several months to several years.
  2. Image titled Become an Accountant Step 9
    2
    Take your 4-part uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam. Once you have passed an initial section of the test, you have 18 months to pass the remaining 3 sections.
    • You may also be required to show proof of your degree program, classroom hours and the successful completion of an ethics course.
  3. Image titled Become an Accountant Step 10
    3
    Consider obtaining your master's degree. You may need a master's degree to follow some state CPA tracks; however, you can also go back to school for your master's of business administration or accounting in order to set yourself on a management track or to qualify for work for larger financial institutions.
  4. Image titled Become an Accountant Step 11
    4
    Take continuing education credits to remain licensed in your state.

Things You'll Need

  • High school diploma
  • Math proficiency
  • College entrance exams
  • Associate's/bachelor's degree
  • Internship
  • Work experience
  • CPA/CMA test prep courses
  • 4-part CMA/CPA test
  • Master's degree
  • Continuing education courses

Article Info

Categories: Accounting and Regulations