How do I Become an Accountant?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

If you want to become an accountant, there are a number of steps to take, some of which are dependent on what type of accountant you want to be. A certified public accountant (CPA), for example, can perform a wide range of accounting tasks, while people who are not certified may find their working environment restricted by law. You may also want to think about specializations within the accounting field, such as bookkeeping, tax preparation, or auditing, and you should find out what the individual requirements to work as an accountant in your region are. An accounting association is a good resource for that information.

A CPA can work on a wide range of accounting tasks.
A CPA can work on a wide range of accounting tasks.

If possible, lay the groundwork to become an accountant in high school by taking math courses and focusing on economics and accounting in electives as well. In some schools, students are offered the opportunity to take internship positions in the community; take advantage of this by working for an accountant or an accounting firm to see if you like the work environment and to get an idea of how the job feels.

In college, you will need to take accounting courses. As a general rule, a CPA must have a four year degree, while accountants without certification can get by with a two year degree. There are a lot of advantages to becoming a CPA, however; you will be able to work in a wider variety of fields, for example, and you can command a higher salary. You can increase your salary even further by pursuing a master's degree in accounting, typically with a focus on a specific area.

To become a CPA, you will need to take a certification exam. The exam tests your knowledge of the law and of basic mathematical concepts to ensure that you will be a competent accountant. When you become an accountant and pursue certification, you can ensure your clients that you are skilled and able to handle their accounting issues, and many people feel more comfortable working with certified accountants.

Once you become an accountant, you can choose to open your own accounting firm, or to work within a larger firm. Many accountants also choose to join professional associations to keep up with developments in the accounting field and to network with like-minded people. Although some people are under the impression that accountants are boring people with uninteresting lives, this field can actually be quite interesting and extremely varied; you can work anywhere from the Internal Revenue Service to a private office run out of your home as an accountant.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


So to be an accountant you should study math as well as take courses? Yeah, that really helps a sixth grader.


I have a postgrad degree in accounting and finance, but in another country. What do I need to do to become an accountant in the UK?


For those of you under the age of 18 who are looking to get started as an accountant, it's going to be pretty tough for you to get any direct experience until you reach at least the age of 18. Public accounting generally involves making decisions that have legal and ethical consequences. Until you considered an adult (no longer a minor as defined by the law where you reside), it is generally difficult for someone to make a contract with you.

However some of the skills that you should be looking to acquire include: Microsoft Excel, balancing the checkbook, and bank reconciliations, volunteers and assist in the IRS' VITA program (they probably won't let you do tax returns, but you can hang out and help, and begin to pick up what you can).

In the United States, generally speaking, one needs about 150 college credit hours to become a certified public accountant. If you're wanting to get started very early, you will want to take bookkeeping classes. Bookkeeping will give you many of the fundamental skills you will need for learning accounting.


I am 23 years old and I have completed my I want to know how I can become a certified accountant.


Is accounting a better career than having an Office Administration degree?


I'm 19 years old and I would like to become a CA in the near future. I'm currently doing the AAT programme in the university of technology. Next year I want to study cost and management accounting. Can I still be a CA if I can still further my studies by doing a masters, or should I go to the university to do Bcom Acconting?


How much is the cost to study that career?


I am 14 years old and want to be an accountant.

How many years of college do I need?


I am 14 years old and I want to be an accountant, but the problem is I didn't get in p-o-a nor p-o-b. I am good at maths -- can't say 100 percent, but I am good, so can you give me advice about that?


I am 15 years old and I would like to become an accountant by starting to study and practice at this age. Can you tell if I can start at this age or am I too young?


I'm 19 years old and I want to become a accountant. I just don't know what to take and where I would go for upgrading and where to take a course for accounting. Could you be of help to guide me to the right place to do so? I am an honor student looking for advice.


So, in order to find out what I need to do to become an accountant, I need to find out what I need to do to become an accountant. Gee thanks.


To the 15 year old aspiring to be an accountant. There really isn't much you can do in high school to pursue accounting. If your high school offers an accounting class, take it. Other than that there isn't much else to do.

To clear up requirements about becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), one must complete 150 hours of credit in college. This means to become a CPA you must take four years in college (120 hours) and also a year of Graduate School. After that if you desire to work for a CPA firm you must pass the CPA exam which is made up of four sections: financial accounting, Audit, Taxation, and ethics.


I am 15 years old an want to become an accountant. What steps should i take?


how do i become an accountant? what are the qualifications needed?


I'm 15 and I'm taking correspondence for accounting, and I.T as well. Some teachers say that Geography links to accounting? Does it?


how do i find a job with a law firm while going to school for business in accounting to get my cpa license?


What courses do i have to do after a three year degree to become an accountant.


i am 15 years of age, and i want to become an accountant. i have started my course i have passed my level 1 in AAT and i am not studying level 2, is there anyone who can advise me in what to do next?


I would like to learn sage, quick books, Myob, focus and Peachtree. So can you tell me where and how can I learn this?


I'm 15 years of age, and still in high school. I want to become an accountant. I just don't know how to get started at my age


I am 16 years old, still in school and i want to become a accountant. how do i start at my age? Or even start practising?


What subject do i choose to go to london from pakistan? Please tell me a course related in the accounting field.


what subjects do i need to chose for my gcse and a-level?


what subjects do i need to take in college?


well in pursuing a diploma programme, what qualifications do i need and what fields of jobs i will be eligible for?


Hello manavdeep18: Your question is about chartered accountants. While they are much like a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), they are not exactly the same.

CPA is a designation in the United States. Chartered Accountant is a title given in various countries, and can mean different things in each country.


is it necessary to have math as a compulsory subject to become charted accountant in +1 and +2 commerce?

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