There are many ways to expand career options for accountants here in the United States. Many certifications and licenses are available that give accountants an edge among others in their field (Hutchison & Fleischman, 2003). Each of these specializes in a certain area of accounting, in order to further educate people of a specific facet to the job. According to research, it seems that these licenses are extremely beneficial in the workforce. The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license is particularly beneficial, and those who earn it are held in high esteem. They have a nearly unlimited selection of career options, regardless of experience. This is largely due to the education and competency that comes as a result of the earning process (Drew, 2012).
Each state has a requirement for people in order to be able to sit for the CPA exam. While many of them differ on some level, they each require at least 120 credit hours of education, with some form of experience or additional education hours. There has been much talk recently of making those standards uniform throughout the United States, but no decision has been reached (Booker et al., 2013). Regardless of the specific requirements, the process is quite difficult and requires much time of learning and gaining practical experience within the field.
Another important facet to consider within the requirements of CPA is expiration date and licensure requirements. Many states have different specifications regarding these things, and it is important to keep up to date for those who are CPAs. People have been discovered working under the title of “CPA,” without truly being licensed or qualified to be doing that type of work (Reed et al., 1997). Many states have adopted similar requirements by this time in order to prevent some of this from happening, but it is still something to be wary of. Working purposely or accidentally as a certified CPA, without truly having the credentials can cause many legal and ethical issues for both the accountant and the employer (Reed et al., 1997).
The CPA exam has gone through structure changes within the last several years. It switched from a paper and pencil test to computer-based back in 2004 (“How the CPA Exam is Scored,” 2011). It is made up of four sections: auditing and attestation, financial accounting and reporting, regulation, and business environment and concepts, with a combined passing score of 75 (“How the CPA Exam is Scored,” 2011). The test is now given through multi-stage testing, which allows a more accurate estimate of the tester’s abilities and knowledge. This is done by offering medium and difficult questions based on the tester’s answers to the previous questions (“How the CPA Exam is Scored,” 2011). This new testing format is certainly proving to require plenty of study hours for those who choose to take it.
Despite the long and challenging process, certification is proving to be quite beneficial within the accounting field. Many times, an accounting degree alone is not enough for a person to reach