To some people, working in accounting may not seem like exciting or even stimulating work. You spend most of your time at a desk, and most of your time at that desk involves a lot of number crunching. However, for a person who likes to work in numbers or finances, it’s pretty much a dream job. You’re performing a very important job, and it’s a job that just about every business needs done. As long as you’re good enough, you can work in pretty much any field out there. Accountants spend a lot of time working with money, but do they actually make a lot of money for themselves?
Too often, people are discouraged from working in certain fields due to misconceptions that they may have surrounding that job’s average salary. I’m sure that a lot of people can relate to being admonished by their parents, who believe that they’re pursuing a career that doesn’t pay very well. How much does the average CPA make?
Average CPA Salary – $62,000
Your average CPA is paid about $62,000, which is pretty good money. Unlike your average accountant, a CPA (which stands for certified public accountant) possesses certain qualifications that allow them to work in a much more complex way. Basically, they’ve gone through a little bit of additional training that lets them do additional work. As a result, your average CPA is paid pretty well. However, that’s an average salary, which obviously means that some people are paid more and some people are paid less. What factors can make a difference in determining the income of a CPA? Location is one of a few factors that can affect how much a CPA is paid. Although certified public accounts are needed everywhere, there is a greater need for them in major cities like Atlanta, Boston, New York City, and Dallas. If you live in one of these places, then you should have a better time finding work as a CPA. You should also be able to negotiate a higher salary.
Next, let’s think about how experience could affect the salary of a CPA. I can’t really think of any traditional job where an employer could punish you for your experience. Almost always, someone with more experience is going to be paid more, and the same thing is true in accounting. A CPA with more than twenty overall years of experience can be paid up to $35,000 more per year than someone just entry level experience. Why is there such a large difference in earnings? To put it simply, an experienced CPA is a more qualified one. There are certain things that you just can’t learn in a classroom, and an experienced CPA is much less likely to be confused by their work or ask for help regarding something that they’re working on. Employers reward that independence and that high quality of work through large paychecks.
Speaking of the classroom, how does the education of a CPA affect their salary? In order to become a certified public accountant, you generally need to at least have a bachelor’s degree. With that in mind, you can expect most of your colleagues to have that level of formal education. But could you see any potential raise in pay if you were to go further than that? Going to graduate school is always a big decision, and you may be reluctant to go further into student debt after you’ve already received your undergraduate degree. If you’re going to be a certified public accountant, you may not have to go back to school. In many cases, someone with a license to work as as CPA is paid more than someone with a master’s degree. Obviously, no employer will hold a master’s degree against you, but there’s no reason to hurt yourself to get back to school.
How to become a CPA – Do you have to go to school?
With all of that in mind, you may still be interested in pursuing some kind of career as a certified public accountant. It may not seem like the most exciting job in the world, but it pays well, and it could be seen as mentally stimulating work for someone who enjoys to work with numbers. What does someone have to do in order to actually become a CPA? First, I think that it should go without saying that you need a high school education. As I mentioned before, a certified public accountant has to go to college, and in order to attend the mass majority of colleges, you need to have a high school education under your belt. This can include something like a GED, if you have already dropped out of high school.
As soon as that is out of the way, it’s time for you to turn your attention to your undergraduate schooling. You are going to want to study accounting (obviously), and although your early studies may be a bit simple, you’ll find that they become more complex as they go on. If you attend a competitive university, you may find yourself overwhelmed by your coursework. This is really where you’re going to have to commit to your chosen career path. Once you’re able to graduate with your degree, you may want to consider graduate school. I mentioned before that a master’s degree (or greater) in accounting is not required to make a good certified public accountant, but this is certainly the time to do it if you want to do it. Weigh all of your options.
Whether you decide to go to graduate school or not, your next step from there is to begin your work as an accountant. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s really true. In order to become a certified public accountant, you already need to have some experience in accounting. While you’re working at this stage of your career, you shouldn’t expect to make as much money as you would make as a CPA. However, you should still be able to take home a decent chunk of change for your efforts. As soon as you’ve met your work experience requirements (which often vary by state) you should be able to begin the process of becoming certified. You will need to pass a few examinations, but as soon as you have that certification in hand, you can begin work as a CPA and make a full CPA’s salary. Since you obviously have the qualifications and the passion, you should have no trouble succeeding in this field.