Hello everyone, welcome to Career Employer!
Today, we want to cover major aspects of a CPA job.
By the end of this session, you’ll have answers to what the future of a CPA looks like, the skills a CPA needs to get a job, areas of specialization in the industry, and how to apply for a CPA job.
Here is exactly what we’ll cover:
Without further ado, let’s get started!
CPA Job Outlook
According to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), there were 669,130 CPAs as of August 2021.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7% increase in demand for accountants and auditors from 2020 to 2030.
This translates to around 135,000 new opportunities in the industry every year for the next ten years.
The bureau further reveals that these openings are mainly because certified public accountants are exiting the market because of retirement or getting into other industries.
According to Robert Half Talent solutions, there’s an increase in demand for CPAs in public accounting firms, corporate firms, academia, and other organizations at all levels.
Many opportunities are particularly opening up in tax and audit roles.
Robert Half further reveals that employers are keener on employing experienced CPAs in core accounting positions to help business growth.
More than that, many businesses are going global, which translates to mergers and acquisitions.
As international trade grows, so does the demand for CPAs.
Additionally, there has been an increase in corporate financial scandals in the recent past, which has called for stringent regulations.
Hence, the demand for certified public accountants is on the rise as companies seek the help of CPAs to help them comply with the new regulations.
Skills to Get a CPA Job
Earning the CPA credential requires one to meet strict education requirements, including a bachelor’s degree, ethical and experience requirements, and passing the CPA exam.
Employers know that CPA license holders have met the strict requirements, so they are competent.
Despite that, many CPA firms require their accountant professionals to have additional skills to better deliver.
And so, here are the skills that employers look for when recruiting CPAs.
Many companies use software to process data and deliver reports effectively.
As such, understanding how the different accounting softwares works is a big plus.
CPAs should be proficient in excel, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, QuickBooks, and business intelligence software.
And since technology keeps evolving, certified public accountants must be on the lookout for what’s new in the market.
Technological advancements such as machine learning, robotic process automation, and advanced analysis will soon infiltrate the market.
It’s in a CPA’s best interest to future-proof their CPA credential by learning about these advancements.
Mathematics is at the core of accounting.
CPAs must understand mathematical formulas to calculate and interpret facts and figures.
They may need to use graphs and charts to illustrate data and translate technical information into simple, easy-to-understand ways so that management can make sense of it.
Additionally, understanding mathematics allows CPAs to analyze figures and accurately track expenses.
From their analysis, they can determine whether the expenses have increased and give strategies to minimize expenses.
Moreover, analysis helps CPAs detect elements of fraud early on.
Lastly, knowledge of math comes in handy when it comes to comparisons.
Whether it’s comparing unit costs from different supplies or deduction costs, math makes it easy.
The Ability to Work Alone and Within a Team
More often than not, CPAs work alone.
As they go about their daily duty developing financial reports and financial statements, they may work alone or in teams with their colleagues.
But more than that, they must also communicate with clients and their staff.
They may be required to liaise with the staff to acquire the information they need to conduct audits or maybe have an in-depth understanding of the company’s business, processes, or operations.
Thus, apart from interpersonal skills, communication skills are equally crucial when working with teams.
Problem-Solving and Analytical Skills
Problem-solving and analytical skills go hand in hand.
CPAs mine data, analyze trends, and translate that data into insightful information.
They use analytical skills to determine if the numbers are right or not.
Often, CPAs will run data and compare the results to what is expected.
In case of any discrepancies, they’ll investigate and document the results for further action.
With problem-solving skills, CPAs can solve complex problems spanning different departments.
They identify areas of potential concern and develop solutions to solve those problems.
Keen Attention to Details
CPAs are required to look at financial documents in detail to identify any correlations, patterns, or anomalies.
Attention to detail enables a CPA to recognize errors and omissions early.
They can discern problems and recommend better practices.
Interest in Finance and Business
CPAs work with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and businesses, offering a wide range of services, including but not limited to auditing, financial planning, tax preparation, financial accounting, bookkeeping, and other accounting services.
It’s only possible to offer top-notch services if one is genuinely interested in finance and business.
At the core of accounting career is finance.
CPAs must embrace this area of knowledge and constantly learn about new developments in the industry to better serve their clients.
Besides, since CPAs work with businesses, these professionals must be able to quickly understand their clients’ operations, understand business regulations and guide clients on compliance.
Up-to-date tax knowledge
It goes without saying that to have a successful accounting career, CPAs must stay up-to-date with tax laws, which keep changing.
Accountants with CPA certification must stay up to date with their continuous professional education on taxation, whether one specializes in financial planning, tax accounting, or payroll administration.
Leadership and Management Skills
CPAs hoping to climb the career ladder to management positions must have leadership skills and perhaps a master’s degree in accounting or a related field.
The more an accountant advances, the more they’ll be tasked with even more complex responsibilities.
As a CFO, one may be required to advise the board of directors, analyze departmental reports and give a big-picture perspective.
The more vast a certified public accountant is in different aspects of financial accounting, the higher their chances of rising into management positions.
CPA Jobs and Specialization
CPA certification is a must-have for accountants working in public accounting firms.
As public accountants, CPAs can choose to specialize in diverse areas.
Tax Accounting: Tax accountants help companies comply with tax laws and regulations, develop tax strategies, and comply with set standards.
They also complete tax returns and maintain tax records.
Financial Analysis: Financial analysts play a major role in ensuring businesses growth.
They analyze financial data, interpret these data, prepare reports and use this information to guide the management to make informed choices.
Internal Auditing: Internal auditors evaluate financial records, control processes, and risk management issues to give a report of the business’s financial and operational activities.
Management Accounting: Accounting managers prepare financial documents and budgets.
They ensure the company uses the best practices in accounting.
Periodically, they’ll evaluate accounting procedures and refine the cycle.
They also consult with the management and help them make the best decisions.
Information Technology Auditing: As the name suggests, IT auditors are concerned with the technological infrastructure of a business.
They examine companies’ technological systems and test them to determine accuracy level and compliance with regulations.
CPAs often start their career as generalists and then specialize along the way as they settle in the career and discover the area of accounting they are truly passionate about.
As they start their career at the entry-level to senior management positions, CPAs can hold a wide range of positions.
Here is an outline of some of the job titles these financial professionals acquire in their career paths.
1-3 years experience: There are several career options in the accounting world at the entry level.
One can start as a consulting staff, tax staff, or staff auditor.
Each of these titles has different job descriptions.
While a consulting staff provides financial advisory and consultancy services, the tax staff is majorly focused on preparing tax returns, and staff auditors work in financial audits.
In their early years of employment, these accounting professionals often work under the supervision of a senior accountant.
3-6 years of experience: At this level of experience, there are titles such as consulting senior, tax senior, and senior auditor.
These professionals provide advanced accounting services.
A tax senior prepares tax returns and develops tax strategies to help a company reduce its burden.
Senior auditors, assign duties to tax staff and review their work.
They also prepare financial statements, review tax returns, analyze internal control, and examine areas to improve.
Consulting seniors supervise consultancy work going on in different areas of an organization.
6+ years of experience: At this level, we have audit managers, tax managers, and consulting managers.
They are mostly administrative and supervisory in tax preparation, auditing, and consultancy.
Senior management: The two highly converted positions here are a partner and a senior partner.
Only 2% of CPAs reach these levels.
To become a senior partner, one must have worked with an organization for a long time and have a stellar record handling clients’ accounts.
These two are senior-most positions in accounting.
Different organizations may give different titles at different levels of experience.
The job description may also vary.
But generally, these are the job titles one can expect in the accounting profession.
How to Get a CPA Job
Getting started in any career can be challenging, and CPA is not an exception.
So, here is a step-by-step process on how one can get a CPA job:
Know What Accounting Employers Look for
Accounting experience is important when looking for a job with a CPA license.
The best way to get started is to apply for an internship opportunity at a public accounting firm or even a corporate firm.
Employers will be more convinced of the abilities of an accountant with work experience than one without.
Apart from work experience, most companies will look at candidates’ performance in accounting coursework and overall achievements at the university.
The big four companies usually look for a 3.5 GPA or more.
Apart from GPA, they also analyze potential candidates’ academic achievements to establish their performance over time.
Technology proficiency and the soft skills we discussed earlier are also part of what employers look for.
With the right skills, the next thing to look into is connecting with the right people.
Professional networking websites like LinkedIn are the perfect place to get started.
LinkedIn can help entry-level professionals apply for jobs, set up their profiles, and connect with experienced CPAs in the industry.
One can connect with the companies they hope to work for and even get in touch with the hiring manager on the platform.
Additionally, connecting with active certified public accountants, former supervisors, or professors can help find accounting opportunities.
Use Job Websites
One can find many job postings on job boards.
These websites advertise a wide range of opportunities from different companies, both within and outside the country.
The key is to use different filters like experience, location, and education to find the opportunities that match one’s career background.
CPA job seekers can sign up on Indeed.com, AICPA, accounting.com, LinkedIn, among others, to find job opportunities.
Interviewing for a CPA job
The last bit is acing the interviews after successfully applying for the many accounting opportunities online.
To prepare adequately for a CPA job interview, it will be best to talk with other accounting professionals with years of experience in the field.
Their responses about what they love about the job, the most challenging part, their strengths, etc., can be a good starting point.
The next thing is to measure one’s responses against the experienced professionals’ responses and adjust where necessary.
Moreover, a quick search online will give one an overview of the questions to expect and the best possible answers.
The only thing will be to tweak these responses during the interview to match the panels’ questions.
More than responding to the interview questions correctly, personal presentation is equally important, especially in accounting.
So, one must look the part and be well-dressed.
There are several areas to specialize in as a CPA accountant.
These areas have several job opportunities that you can tap into if you have the right skills and, of course, work experience.
Getting started in the industry is easy if you have the right techniques to find job opportunities, apply for them, and give your best in the interview.
The CPA profession is thriving now more than ever.
CPA jobs outlook is impressive.
More job opportunities are prone to open throughout the decade.
And so, if you are into accounting, a CPA certification may be a good option for you.