The CPA exam is difficult, extensive, and strenuous, but is it worth it? Luckily, the benefits of becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) only continue to grow in today’s economy, and include (but are certainly not limited to) flexibility in the work place, greater and faster career growth, and job security.
Nobody will argue that it takes a fair amount of work to obtain the CPA license. The years leading up to sitting for the exam, and the first few years of a CPA’s career require long hours and hard work. However, the benefits are worth it. Once CPA’s are settled into their careers, the opportunity for flexibility is abundant. Many accounting firms offer five or more weeks of paid time off as well as the potential to take sabbaticals. Additionally, once you climb the ladder within the firm (manager or higher) you usually have the ability to essentially make your own schedule based on what works for. Outside of accounting firms, the certification gives you the flexibility to work across a broad range of industries, or perhaps even on your own if you prefer. After becoming a CPA, the certification will give you the power to be picky. The key is finding the job that suits your lifestyle and needs.
Career growth (mainly salary growth) is one of the main reason’s candidates decide to pursue the certification. Entry level salaries are essentially the same, whether you have passed the exam or not. However, as you continue on into your career, the difference grows substantially. Within accounting firms, salary increases range from around 8%-10% per year for CPA’s. For non-CPA’s in the same position, salary increases tend to range from 2%-4%. The divide grows even larger if you decide to leave public accounting. Job offers will be plentiful if you are a CPA coming out of public accounting because employers are willing to pay for CPA’s in both salary and benefits.
Currently, the demand for CPA’s is greater than the supply. Fewer and fewer candidates are applying to take the exam but the need for the unique skill set and expertise that CPA’s obtain remains the same. Because of this, opportunities are abundant and job security is high. We continually hear about the use of artificial intelligence in today’s workplace and the job titles at risk of being replaced. CPA’s are one of the few that are not at risk of being replaced (at least not in the near future). The career is stable, with extensive opportunities.
Yes, the CPA exam is difficult and time consuming, but yes, it is worth it. Passing the CPA exam will set you up for a career of success. With a CPA license you don’t have to pin-hole yourself into one job title for the rest of your life. If you get out of college and realize that you hate public accounting, the certification will still allow you to obtain jobs such as director, partner, controller, or business owner across a variety of industries. Put in the work, and the benefits will speak for themselves.