October 19, 2023

The “Future-Proof” Certification: Why You Should Become a CPA

Lauren Kemp

In the ever-evolving landscape of finance and accounting, doing what you can to become more valuable and desired in the workforce is a no-brainer. Professionals seeking to enhance their careers often turn to certifications to validate their expertise, and for accounting professionals, the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification remains the gold standard.

CPAs have long held a prominent position in the industry. Whether you are working in public accounting, industry accounting, corporate finance, or government agencies, a CPA continues to be a valuable asset. The credibility and prestige that comes with these letters has not waned; in fact, it has become even more critical for a variety of reasons.

#1: Career Advancement and Versatility

For individuals seeking career choices and advancement, the CPA certification continues to be a game-changer. Many employers specifically require or highly prefer candidates with CPA credentials for accounting positions from the senior level up to VP & CFO. In addition to securing job opportunities, a CPA certification translates to higher earning potential over an entire career. Being a CPA also offers flexibility in terms of career paths. Whether you desire a traditional career path in accounting or you intend to move your career into a more finance-focused path, having your CPA will vastly increase the number and quality of opportunities you have to consider.

#2: Expertise in Accounting and Financial Reporting

CPAs are experts in accounting and financial reporting. Their in-depth knowledge allows them to navigate the intricacies of financial statements, tax planning, and audit procedures. This level of expertise is especially valuable as all organizations require accurate financial data for effective planning, decision-making, as well as for investors who rely on trustworthy financial reporting.

#3: Regulatory Compliance

The financial world is thick with regulations and compliance standards, and the scope will only continue to expand. CPA certification is designed to ensure that professionals have a deep understanding of these complex regulations, making them integral to maintaining compliance. According to The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA https://www.aicpa.org/), the CPA exam covers a wide range of topics, including auditing, taxation, financial accounting, and reporting, providing professionals with a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory landscape that companies desire when evaluating candidates.

#4: Global Recognition

The CPA designation is recognized worldwide, making it easier for professionals to explore international career opportunities, opening doors for accountants to work in different countries, for global organizations, and to collaborate on international projects.

#5: Ethical Standards

Ethical conduct is paramount in the accounting and finance industries. CPAs are held to a strict code of ethics, ensuring that they maintain the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. This is especially crucial in today's world, where public trust in financial institutions and professionals are paramount.

What does becoming a CPA entail? 

To become a Certified Public Accountant, candidates must complete a rigorous process, which includes education, work experience, and passing the CPA Exam. The process typically involves a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Many aspiring CPAs pursue a Master's in Accounting or an equivalent advanced degree to meet the educational requirements. The exam itself is a comprehensive, four-part exam covering various areas of accounting and finance. Candidates must pass all four sections within a 30-month period to earn their CPA certification. In most jurisdictions, candidates also need to complete a specified amount of work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA, and many states also require candidates to pass an ethics exam to ensure they understand the ethical standards associated with the profession. Once these requirements are met, candidates can apply for CPA licensure in the irrespective jurisdictions. Keep in mind that specific requirements can vary by state or country, so it's essential to research the requirements in your region.

The Future-Proof Certification

As the finance industry continues to evolve, the value of the CPA certification remains steadfast. Professionals with this designation are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and ethical foundation required to excel in a wide range of accounting and finance roles. Today’s financial landscape presents challenges and opportunities, and CPAs are uniquely positioned to adapt and thrive in this dynamic environment. Kady Gerhart, J2T's Denver Market Manager, has nearly a decade of experience in the industry. When asked if she believes earning a CPA certification is worth it for candidates, she shares, "I always tell candidates to get this certification and to get it early in their careers. It will only elevate their resume, job opportunities, and marketability to companies. Also, it only gets harder the longer they wait after earning their degree, as they get out of practice with studying and taking tests; the earlier, the better." 

The (CPA) certification is more relevant than ever. Its focus on regulatory compliance, financial expertise, career advancement, versatility, global recognition, and ethical standards make it a crucial credential in the world of finance and accounting. Whether you are a recent graduate looking to enter the field or a seasoned professional seeking career growth, pursuing CPA certification is a strategic move that can open doors and set you on the path to success.