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Are you a high school student curious about resumes? Or the CPA exam? Or the size of your future paycheck? Enter your question below and we’ll have a real-life CPA answer it. 

If you are in college or beyond, get the answers to your questions by contacting the Academic & Career Awareness team.

 

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Q: Why is the CPA such a great job?

The CPA designation provides a window into any type of business, government, academic or consulting job you desire. The excellent training and public recognition of the rigorous requirements to become and maintain the CPA certificate serve as the benchmark for other professions in the business world. Just mentioning the CPA exam and continuing education requirements to other professionals brings an acknowledgment of the difficulty in obtaining such a heralded credential.

Lastly, the CPA profession is dynamic and exciting. New ground is discovered each day in the financial reporting, tax planning, financial planning and other areas in which CPAs provided valued services. This profession will not allow you to sit on the sidelines. You are required to maintain and improve your skills on a daily basis. That is the wonderful fact about the CPA profession and credential – you have a vital and important career affecting the lives of people in a dramatic way!

Being a CPA, Professional Community

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Q: I enjoy algebra and math so much I was thinking about becoming an accountant but I'm not sure if it's the job for me.

I actually was not a big fan of math when I went through school. And as an auditor, I don’t really have to do complex math in my head. It definitely helps to understand math, but we typically do calculations in Excel due to the sheer volume of data we look at.

From my experiences, accounting is more than just numbers. You learn the theory about why accounts work the way they do, as well as learn the importance of properly classifying assets, liabilities and equity. What’s interesting about accounting is investors, banks, and other institutions rely on the financial statements issued by a company to determine the potential of that company.

I suggest taking an introductory course in accounting to see if you’re interested in the subject matter. Such a course will go over the basics of the different financial statements, but will also give you an idea of what’s in store for you should you decide to pursue a career in accounting.

One thing is for sure – accounting is not as black and white as solving an algebra equation! You’ll learn the importance of exploring ‘grey’ areas, and realize there is not always a right or wrong answer. It’s definitely an interesting experience!

Being a CPA, Colleges & Classes

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Q: What are some CPA specialties?

CPA's understand and can articulate the language of business. Therefore, CPA's have the ability to specialize in numerous areas, including, to name a few, Personal Financial Planning, Fraud and Forensics, Information Technology and Business Valuation. Personal Financial Planning, for example, is an area in which the CPA helps clients determine how they should invest and spend their individual finances. Some of these clients could be multi-millionaires who need advice on the best ways to make their money grow and direction on how to set-up trusts for future donations and inheritances. While others seeking financial planning are average citizens who require assistance planning for their children's college education, their solid retirement and the care of their aging parents. The AICPA offers credentials in four specialty areas. Be sure to learn more at www.aicpacommunities.org

After a CPA gains experience in the fundamentals of the business and the accounting world, this person may want to concentrate on becoming an expert in a particular industry, such as banking, manufacturing, non-for-profits, oil and gas or auto dealerships. A huge area right now is fraud and forensics. The world needs CPA's to investigate those who try to steal money from corporations and the public or who trick people into false investment ploys, like a ponzi scheme. Since CPA's know the language of business, these experts are often the best people to sniff out a rat! Take a a little quiz at www.journalofaccountancy.com

Finally, a CPA may specialize in other ways, such as concentrating on tax law and obtaining a JD. Or working their way to a CFO or CEO role and then spending the remainder of his/her career leading various organizations to success in similar roles. And specialization can be as simple as audit vs. tax vs. consulting or large (SEC) vs. small (mom and pop businesses) clients. New standards and regulation are introduced into our profession on a regular basis. So a person can make a career out of becoming an expert in tax legislation, for example. While other CPA's may eventually spend the majority of their time working with SEC companies, who have very different reporting requirements than a non-public company.

The most important part to specializing is gaining the foundation that is required for a CPA license. From there, the opportunities for a CPA are endless!

Being a CPA, CPA Exam & Certification

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Q: What do I have to study in college in order to become a CPA? What do I major in? After college what path do I take in order to be a CPA?

Answered by:
AICPA

While in college you should choose accounting as your major but you should also make sure your education is well rounded. CPA's have a great deal of face to face interaction making public speaking and interpersonal communication skills important. CPAs also write a fair amount of reports and correspondence so strong written communication skills are also helpful.

The rules and regulations to become a CPA vary from state to state. It is always recommended that you review the guidelines for your state as the requirements for work experience as well as educational experience could influence the courses you take as well as where you begin your career.

You can find information about your state CPA society here:

www.startheregoplaces.com

Colleges & Classes, CPA Exam & Certification

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Q: I’m not great with math, but being an accountant for a sports team makes me think the job would fit me greatly. Should I keep taking math classes in college and try accounting for my future?

I think you should definitely pursue your desire to be a sports team accountant regardless of how you are currently performing in math.

I used to tutor students in math while an undergraduate student and found that most of the time the people I assisted were actually quite strong in math. They just needed someone who could identify their particular weaknesses and help turn it into strengths. I would suggest you get a personal tutor who can assess your current skill level and help you develop a plan for improving it.

In addition, I would recommend that you contact your academic advisement/career office and see if they can put you in contact with some CPA's that already work in the position you will be striving to obtain. That way you can get a better understanding of the type of math they encounter on a day-to-day basis.

For the first few years of my career all I really utilized was basic math which included calculating a lot of percentages. As my career progressed I started to utilize more statistics. I share all this to help you understand that you may start off in a particular accounting role but as you progress in your career you will move into new accounting roles which may require a different set of math skills. So take a deep breath, commit to not allowing math to be a challenge in your life any further, and I look forward to seeing you do great things with a successful sports team.

Colleges & Classes, Corporate Accounting

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