Should you become a CPA? : ThisWayToCPA : AICPA (2024)

Becoming a CPA is challenging. It’s difficult to meet the various state requirements, and passing the test is one of the most challenging obstacles you will encounter. Said my former co-worker: “It was the worst experience of my life.”

I’m not here to tell you that becoming a CPA is easy. Some people don’t have hundreds of hours to pour into studying because of family life, work, or other reasons. Others simply seem have intellectual strengths in other areas. It’s not for everyone.

But if becoming a CPA is in your future, you are in luck.

The financial benefits for a CPA are clear. CPAs often make more money for the same job than they would if they did not hold the license, and it routinely enables them to secure jobs they would not be able to get without it. According to the AICPA, CPAs earn 10-15% more than non-CPAs working in accounting-related jobs. Other studies have shown the gap as high as 41% between the certified and un-certified. “For younger job applicants in particular, meeting the requirements to become a CPA represents discipline and initiative to me,” says Doug Rebok, Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer of Adventist Health, a health-care provider with approximately 19,000 employees. “CPAs are often more apt to do a good job for what I’m hiring them for and a have a greater likelihood and ability to advance within the organization.”

Regardless of what area of accounting you go into, the CPA title will, above all other designations, separate you from the rest of the field. If you work in public accounting, you will absolutely get preferential treatment for being a CPA. Many titles and levels in your firm will be unattainable without it, and as a result your pay will have a much lower ceiling.

If you choose not to go into public accounting, the benefits of being a CPA could be even greater. Being a CPA instantly gives you credibility, arguably more so than its three-letter counterpart—the MBA. The CPA title speaks not only of your work ethic and professional experience, but of a certain level of mental aptitude. The vast majority of the population is capable of earning a business degree, but the same cannot be said for earning the Certified Public Accountant designation.

Whether you are applying for a role in finance, accounting, marketing, production, or administration, being a CPA is a sign of intelligence and expertise. For companies trying to determine the best applicant, it gives them an objective measurement of your capabilities where question marks exist for your competition. In addition, companies desperately want and need the counsel of CPAs for tax and legal advice, and the opportunity to employ one in-house can be very attractive. The result? Excellent job security, good pay, and plenty of respect from both co-workers and friends.

Becoming a CPA is not for everyone. But if better pay, a more desirable position, and job security are important to you, I recommend you grab a book and start studying.

Andrew Lee operates the website Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @CPAstudy.

Should you become a CPA? : ThisWayToCPA : AICPA (2024)


Should you become a CPA? : ThisWayToCPA : AICPA? ›

The financial benefits for a CPA are clear. CPAs often make more money for the same job than they would if they did not hold the license, and it routinely enables them to secure jobs they would not be able to get without it. According to the AICPA, CPAs earn 10-15% more than non-CPAs working in accounting-related jobs.

Is the AICPA membership worth it? ›

All AICPA members have access to valuable benefits, including: Professional solutions, including expert guidance on changes in the accounting profession. Knowledge development at your fingertips with a vast on-demand learning portal.

Can you be a member of the AICPA without being a CPA? ›

AICPA Membership - Affiliate. This membership is for those who do not possess a CPA license but have deep involvement in accounting or finance.

Is becoming a CPA worth it? ›

The salary difference between a licensed CPA and an unlicensed accountant throughout a career could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Moreover, the license is so desirable that accountants can use it as leverage for raises outside the typical pay raise windows. Becoming a CPA has numerous benefits.

Is there a shortage of accountants in the AICPA? ›

A report from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) found a 33% decline in first-time candidates taking the national certified public accountant (CPA) exam from 2016 to 2021. There is a growing shortage of certified public accountants and the profession is aging, with 75% at retirement age.

What are the benefits of an AICPA membership? ›

AICPA Benefits Include

Savings and options for insurance, 401(k) plans, travel, tech, office supplies, shipping and more. News and publications. Magazines and newsletters about the latest developments in the accounting profession. Professional development.

Is AICPA the same as CPA? ›

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is a non-profit professional organization representing certified public accountants (CPA) in the United States. The AICPA was founded in 1887, under the name American Association of Public Accountants.

Can AICPA revoke CPA license? ›

No. The AICPA cannot revoke a member's license, only the applicable state licensing board can.

How long does an AICPA membership last? ›

Annual dues cover a 12-month membership. If you join mid-year your dues will be prorated, meaning you only pay for what you use.

What is the grace period for AICPA? ›

Grace Period

Two months immediately following the reporting period. Hours credited toward a deficiency may not be counted toward the reporting period in which they are taken.

What is the downside of CPA? ›

Long and Demanding Work Hours

One of the notable challenges in public accounting is the demanding work hours, particularly during peak periods such as tax season and financial reporting deadlines. Accountants often face tight deadlines, resulting in long hours, including evenings and weekends.

Is a CPA worth it in 2024? ›

Yes I would say as a self employed CPA. First off understand that there are several areas of accounting you can get into. With compliance work you will have tax and audit work to do. Believe me, as long as we have a government this will never go away.

How stressful is being a CPA? ›

Accountants often work overtime to ensure they meet deadlines, especially when auditing a company or doing taxes for clients during the busy season. These long hours cause stress and burnout, which can lead to mental health problems, especially when the accountant isn't able to spend time with family and friends.

Why are so many CPAs quitting? ›

Craving more meaningful projects, creative problem solving and engaging work experience, many accountants leave the field to explore other career options where they can have a deeper sense of purpose and impact.

Why are CPAs declining? ›

Many would agree that the most significant reason for the decline in accounting majors is the 150-hour requirement. Aside from having to pay an additional year of tuition, many students traditionally wait until they graduate before they work full-time at an accounting firm.

Are 75% of CPAs at retirement age? ›

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) determined that by 2019, about 75% of all CPAs reached retirement age. That should be concerning for anyone who has ever relied on the services of an accountant. Here's what you need to know about the retirement of CPAs affecting the accounting industry.

How hard is the AICPA exam? ›

How hard is the CPA Exam, really? Very. The overall CPA Exam pass rates hover slightly below 50%. This makes passing the CPA Exam a difficult, but achievable, goal.

Do you have to be a member of AICPA to get life insurance? ›

The AICPA Member Programs offer group life products issued by Prudential in partnership with AON. Like most group life insurance policies, you (or a spouse) must be a member to get AICPA life insurance.

When can AICPA terminate membership? ›

Under the AICPA Bylaws, the AICPA can expel or suspend a member without a hearing due to the following: the member's certificate as a CPA or license to practice is suspended or revoked or a member is convicted of (i) a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year, (ii) the willful failure to file any income ...


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