What is a CPA and how do you become one?

What does CPA stand for?

In today’s society,  going the extra mile to obtain further certificates and qualifications on top of your bachelor’s degree is important. It not only sets you apart from your peers, but it also lets the public and employers know that you are certified in a specific field. If you are not at this stage and would like to get the ball rolling, on your accounting career. You can start with this online accounting course.

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is an accounting professional who has undergone a rigorous and prestigious training program. To obtain a CPA qualification one must apply, write and pass the required CPA examinations and fulfill all of the necessary requirements.

Who is authorised to provide the CPA accreditation?

In Australia, CPA Australia administers the program. Once a person has completed the CPA course, there are lots of areas he/she can specialize in, including:

  • Forensic accounting;
  • Income tax;
  • Corporate finance and business;
  • Information technology; as well as
  • Tax preparation and planning.

What steps are required to obtain the CPA certificate?

Becoming a CPA accountant is not a quick or easy task. Unlike basic accounting courses such as the Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping, the CPA program has prerequisites prior to being able to undertake the course.  Previous graduates of the CPA course have advised that there are three steps in obtaining the qualification:

  • Education – bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or a related field;
  • Exam – You will need to achieve a minimum score of 75 to pass CPA exam; and
  • Experience – obtain a minimum of 1-year supervised experience prior to taking the exam.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) courses

The CPA course comprises of a total of 14 units. The CPA course syllabus has a wide range of areas of specialization which is grouped into four categories. They include:

  • Auditing procedures and practical applications;
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting;
  • Regulation including ethics, taxation and business laws; and
  • Business Environment Concepts.

The CPA Examination

The CPA exam is the most important aspect of the program. The CPA exam is divided into four sections and you can decide which one you want to complete first. Although you must make sure the 3 of the exams are passed within an 18-month period.  These examinations are always taken during the first two months of every quarter i.e. January and February, April and May, July and August, October and November. This implies that the exam is sat for four times in a year. A minimum score of 75 is required in each course to pass the exams.

Requirements to sit the CPA exam

The following are required for you to be eligible to sit for the CPA exams:

  • Must be above 18-years old;
  • Have a minimum of 120 credit hours and a maximum of 150 credit hours from institutions where your BSc or MSc is obtained;
  • Experience is needed;
  • All of your academic qualifications; and
  • Not compulsory to be a citizen of the country you are sitting your CPA exam at.

Application process

You have to obtain an application form through the Board of Accounting in your state. Send in your application alongside with your transcripts, photograph, recommendation letter and other necessary documents – refer to the latest application process on the CPA Australia website.

Benefits of becoming a CPA

There are a lot of benefits and they include:

  • As a CPA, you can be an accountant; but an accountant cannot be called a CPA. This is an edge over an accountant with their undergraduate degree;
  • CPAs are regularly hired. In a situation where you apply for a job in an accounting firm, one with a CPA accreditation is usually highly regarded over an accountant without the accreditation; and
  • A CPA is paid higher than any other accountant.

Certification of the program is only a way to prove to the public and your employer that you possess a higher level of technical skills, ethical standards, and advanced skills.

If you are interested in financial accounting and auditing (or just accounting in general), why not boost your career today by enrolling in a CPA program today?

Please note, Edna does not offer any CPA training programs. For more information, you can visit the CPA Australia website.