As a career field, accounting is experiencing growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Accountants looking to make the most of their career options usually try to obtain their licenses as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). However, taking the exam can be pricey. Review courses that help you prepare can cost even more. The good news is that there are resources available to you through grants and scholarships to alleviate your costs.
To obtain a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification in most states, you must have 150 credit hours of college-level education. In addition to that, you must take a four-part exam. Most states require that you pass all four parts within an 18-month time period. Once you pass the exam and obtain your CPA license, a certain number of continuing education hours is required to keep your license up to date. The number of hours is dependent on your state’s guidelines.
Taking the CPA exam is an expensive process. A review course is a great way to prepare for this difficult four-part exam, but good review courses cost money. One review course touting a high pass rate is the Becker CPA review. This course will cost you approximately $3,000 out of pocket. Another highly recommended course is the Rogers CPA review. This one costs $2,095 for a classroom-based course and $1,695 for an online course. The exam itself is also quite pricey. Many states use the prices set by the National Association of State Board of Accountancy, which is $823 for all four parts. In addition, most state boards also charge an application fee, ranging from $30 to $200. For exact pricing information, contact your state board of accountancy.
Grants and Scholarships
To offset the costs of obtaining your CPA certifications, there are grants and scholarships available to you. Many state accounting institutes offer programs to help pay for the exam. For example, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) has a program titled the PICPA CPA Exam Scholarship. If you are awarded this scholarship, PICPA will cover exam-related costs up to $500. Similarly, the Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants has an Educational Foundation Becker Grant program. This grant program awards successful applicants with a free Becker review course. To find out about options in your state, contact your state board of accountancy.
Many accounting firms will cover the cost of the CPA exam for their employees. In many cases, the firm will also pay for a review course in conjunction with the exam cost. For example, both Ernst and Young and Deloitte will pay for the Rogers CPA Review course for their employees. Another option is being a student representative for the exam review company. For example, Becker offers a program for students to become a “Becker Campus Ambassador.” Ambassadors are responsible for distributing materials, scheduling lectures and putting together sample review classes for other students. Upon completion of duties, Becker grants the ambassador a free (or significantly discounted) CPA review course.
2016 Salary Information for Accountants and Auditors
Accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $68,150 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, accountants and auditors earned a 25th percentile salary of $53,240, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $90,670, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,397,700 people were employed in the U.S. as accountants and auditors.