Overview of Online Financial Accounting Certification
Individuals looking to improve their knowledge of financial accounting and improve their job prospects could consider earning the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential. This credential is required for any accountant filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and is a respected credential that can bolster a resume and attract new clients. In order to earn this credential, candidates must pass a series of exams and satisfy education and work experience requirements that are set at the state level.
Students who need to satisfy education requirements have plenty of options available online. Candidates who do not have a degree can earn an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting, while those who already have a degree can complete an online CPA certificate program. These certificates review key topics and award college credits if students do not have the required hours.
Certified Public Accountant Requirements
Each state has unique requirements for CPA eligibility, so candidates should check their home state's requirements before beginning the process. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age in many states, and some states also have citizenship requirements.
Aspiring CPAs must have 150 hours of college credit, which can be earned by completing a bachelor's degree (normally 120 credits) and a post-baccalaureate certificate program that awards 30 credits. These certificates, which can be completed entirely online, include coursework in managerial accounting, financial statement analysis, principles of taxation, and other essential topics in accounting. Students with no degree can consider online degree programs in accounting that offer accelerated tracks. These programs award both bachelor's and master's degrees and consist of 150 credits, allowing candidates to earn a degree and satisfy the education requirements in a condensed timeframe. Candidates should note that many states have requirements when it comes to the number of college credits related to accounting or business topics.
Work Experience Requirements
Many states will also mandate at least two years of public accounting experience (or more years of non-public accounting experience). Other states utilize a two-tier system wherein candidates earn their certification after passing the exam and then must acquire work experience in order to earn the state accounting license.
All candidates, regardless of state, must pass the CPA exam, which consists of four sections lasting four hours apiece. Each section focuses on a specific knowledge area in accounting. Candidates do not need to take all four sections in one sitting, but they must pass all portions in 18 months.
Job Opportunities After Financial Accounting Certification
Graduates with CPA certification can look for work as accountants and auditors or attempt to move into more senior roles such as chief financial officer. Some employers prefer hiring candidates who hold a master's degree, depending on the role and size of the company.
Accountants and auditors are in high demand and are paid well for their services, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reports that the median salary for these professionals was $71,550 as of 2019, and job opportunities were expected to increase 6% from 2018-2028, a rate that is as fast as the national average for all professions and would lead to the creation of 90,700 new jobs. Among other factors, the BLS notes that a larger economy and globalization will lead to a more complex economic environment that will necessitate a greater number of accountants.
Certificate and degree programs in accounting are available in completely online formats and help students prepare for the CPA exam. Candidates can use these programs to gain new skills and use CPA certification to find work as accountants and auditors.