How to Become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Updated: May 23, 2023 You’re our #1 priority.
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Becoming a CPA is a life-changing event that requires serious commitment, dedication, and drive. And while it’s an incredibly difficult journey, it is completely worth the struggle. The sense of accomplishment alone is worth it but the level of instant respect you gain from becoming a CPA is amazing.Friends, family, and especially coworkers automatically look at you different. They realize just how much discipline and dedication you’re capable of putting towards your goals. And the amount of opportunities that’ll present themselves to you afterward is mind-blowing.

Top 5 Tips On How To Become A Certified Public Accountant

My video below answers the top 5 most frequently asked questions on how to become a CPA and covers:

  1. How to schedule your CPA exams
  2. How to choose the best CPA review course
  3. How to study for the CPA exam while studying full time
  4. How to pass the CPA exam on your first try like I said, the path to becoming a CPA is very difficult. When I first started my journey, there wasn’t a ton of help out there to help me navigate through it. And that’s why I created this site. I took everything I learned and created a site to help save you time and remove the headache in trying to figure out how to become a CPA.

How to Schedule Your CPA Exams

The first thing you have to do is schedule your exam. This isn’t as straightforward as you’d expect. Your first step is to submit a CPA Exam application. Each state or jurisdiction will have slightly different requirements to take the CPA Exam. I’ve gone through and compiled all the information you need for each state here.Once you’ve applied, you’ll receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS) from the Prometric Testing Centers. Once you get your NTS, you’ll have 6-12 months to take the sections that you pay for, depending on which state you’re in. Again, it’s easy to get confused on this, so please check out my detailed guide and save yourself the stress!

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The CPA Exam is offered during the first two months of each quarter. You can take each section in any order you like—I recommend taking your easiest section first to help boost your confidence and start off with a win.You can schedule all four sections if you like, but I recommend starting by scheduling just two. This way you’ll avoid potentially paying twice for sections you didn’t pass or didn’t have enough time to take.Becoming a CPA is a life-changing event that requires serious commitment, dedication, and drive. And while it’s an incredibly difficult journey, it is completely worth the struggle. The sense of accomplishment alone is worth it but the level of instant respect you gain from becoming a CPA is amazing.

CPA Exam Costs & Fees

Here’s how much the CPA exam costs, varying from state to state:

State Board of Accountancy Application Fees: $30-$200

NASBA Exam Fees: $175-$250 per section

Ethics Exams: $125-$170

CPA License Fee: $50-$300

It’s definitely costly, and that’s without the price of a review course. And while cost is often a deciding factor for any major purchase, don’t let the price of the right review course for you keep you from success. I have the best discounts available on all the best CPA review courses.

How to Choose the Best CPA Exam Review Course

I’ve gone through each and every course and broken each down into high level pros and cons with a thorough review. I’ve figured out what each is best at and for what type of person. I wrote an in-depth post on how to figure out your learning style, which is a huge factor in determining which course you should choose.

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One of my top recommendations is Surgent. The company put together the most up-to-date course with true adaptive technology that very accurately assesses your strengths and weaknesses, so it can focus only on what you need to know to pass. This makes for the most efficient study sessions and greatly reduces study time.Wiley CPA is another course I highly recommend, and you really can’t go wrong with it. I used it when I took the CPA Exam. It has bite-sized study sessions that are easily consumable and able to fit into any schedule.Roger also offers one of the best courses available. He’s been a leader in the space for a very long time, offering the most interesting video lectures available. It’s not easy to make CPA videos entertaining, but Roger has an enthusiasm and passion for accounting that’s unrivaled and it clearly shows in his content. The course also has audio formats for all the lectures, which are great for traffic, runs, or daily errands.Once you’ve decided on the best course for you, don’t spend more than you have to. We’ve worked tirelessly with course providers to bring you the top CPA discounts. Check them out!

Related Blog Posts & Resources

How to Study for the CPA Exam While Working

Alright, so we’ve covered how to schedule your exam and how to choose the best review course, so let’s look at how to study for the CPA Exam while working. This is often one of the biggest hurdles for people when trying to become a CPA. Don’t let working full-time be an excuse for not becoming a CPA! I was working a 50 hours week when I took the CPA Exam. And if an average accountant like me can do it, there’s no reason to think you can’t.

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A can-do attitude is a must. And you have to be willing to make sacrifices. But that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate all the fun in your life. I’ve written a detailed blog post that goes into detail about how to reduce study time, give yourself much needed days away from studying for the CPA Exam, and how to study efficiently. (Additionally, check out the NASBA’s Experience Verification section to see how you can turn your work hours into credits toward your CPA credential!)

The key is discipline and planning. All of the review courses on my site have study planners and they really help break down your study time and plan out what you need to do, day by day. If you stick to the plan, you’ll find you still have some time for fun.And after all that, how do you pass the CPA exam? Well my friends, it’s no secret, and by this point I’m sure you know what I’m going to say: Discipline, Sacrifice, Proper Planning, and Confidence. I’ve created an excellent Study Guide that’ll help you Crush the CPA Exam the first time you take it.

Bryce Welker, CPA

Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes,, YEC and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created to share his knowledge and experience to help other accountants become CPAs too. Bryce was named one of Accounting Today’s “Accountants To Watch” among other accolades.   As Seen On Forbes