Change Your Life for the Better by Becoming a CPA

Change Your Life for the Better by Becoming a CPA

  •  Updated:March 19, 2019
  • Bryce Welker, CPA
  • CPA Review Courses
  • Comments (78)

Becoming a CPA has proven to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The sacrifice and the monumental effort seem trivial when compared to benefits I’ve reaped. I received plenty of job offers from both the private and public sectors, as well as other opportunities that simply would not have been possible before. 

The first time I wrote about this, I was doing so from the 84th floor of the Baiyoke Tower, the tallest building in Thailand. I was able to make the beautiful Asian country my home for more than a year, which was a direct result of getting my CPA license—it gave my clients the confidence that I could do my work anywhere in the world. This flexibility in being able to travel the world while still working is just one of the many ways becoming a CPA will change your life for the better.

Now, years later, I’m still reaping the benefits of that decision to become a CPA. I own my company and I’m able to help others navigate the difficult journey to becoming a CPA. I have an amazing life and I’m lucky enough to be able to share my story with you to help you get the most out of your studies and career. Let’s look at the numerous benefits and take a glimpse at how you even begin the process to become a CPA.

Benefits Of Being A Certified Public Accountant

Stack that Paper

Let’s start with the positives. And while I’m a big fan of the philosophy that money doesn’t buy happiness, I think it’s fair to say that it does afford us the freedom to pursue happiness. And becoming a CPA will definitely increase your earnings. Many companies offer their employees a large bonus upon receiving their CPA license, generally anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. That’s a pretty nice chunk of cash, but a bonus like that is really just the tip of the iceberg when compared to the long-term gains from having a CPA salary versus having a normal accountant salary. While the bonus will generally cover the cost of your cpa course plus a little extra, your lifetime earnings potential significantly increases with the CPA designation next to your name. 

The Robert Half Salary Guide for 2017 has CPAs making 5-15% more than those that lack the CPA credentials. That can create a pay gap of over $50,000 over time that can result in a CPA making $1,000,000 more over the course of an entire career. And that’s just the basic gig in accounting. CPAs are much more likely to be promoted above regular accountants.

Skyrocket Up The Ladder

The managerial world of accounting is populated by more CPAs than not, meaning the path to the top is often more open to CPAs. Going through the process takes dedication and sacrifice that all the big firms recognize and reward. When you become a CPA, you’re putting yourself into an exclusive club.

Work For Yourself

But maybe you don’t want to make money for other people. Maybe you want make money for yourself, like I do. Becoming a CPA is your path to freedom. Once licensed, you can open up shop and start a firm of your own!

Some of my close friends have gone this route recently, and although they are only scraping by with business from a handful of friends and family, they are absolutely loving it compared to the corporate jobs they just left. I love hearing about that, because I did the same thing and I couldn’t be happier. Working for myself has been the best thing I’ve ever done.

High Demand

But if you don’t want to deal with the stress of owning your own business, know that there is plenty of demand. Almost every business in America needs the services of a CPA. This is one of the most secure fields in the country. You’ll always be needed and there isn’t a city or town anywhere in America that won’t have need of CPAs.

Process To Become A CPA

For the Student

Still in school? First off, good for you for looking ahead! To get started on the path to becoming a CPA, your first step will be to finish school. Getting a bachelor’s degree in accounting will earn you about 120 credit hours. You need to go to grad school to get the remaining 30 credit hours you need to have the minimum requirement of 150 semester hours.

Some of you may be lucky enough to be in a 5 year bachelor’s and master’s degree program, which will help you knock out that requirement quickly and in one place. For the rest of you, you can get a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a specialization in accounting, Master of Science in Accounting, or a Master of Arts in Accounting.

Get to Work

After you graduate, you have to join the workforce. Lucky for you, there’s tons of entry level accounting jobs out there in either public or private firms or in an accounting department for any business. This will get you started in the world of accounting and believe me, you’re going to be put to work! Once you get started, you’ll be knee-deep in it, toiling away but gaining valuable experience that will often be aligned with one or more sections of the CPA Exam. So don’t look at it as time wasted. And you’ll see if you’ve the stomach for accounting in general.

If you join the workforce by working for a large private firm, you might even be so lucky as to get your CPA Exam fees and even study materials covered by the firm. Even public firms, have plenty of reimbursement programs or scholarships available for the struggling fledgling accountant.

CPA Exam Prep & Review Courses

Look, there’s no way around this. You have to get a review course, and you want to get one that suits your learning style. And if you somehow got through all that schooling without figuring out your preferred learning style, you should definitely figure that out. It’ll help you cut down the amount time you’ll need to study for the CPA Exam. Which is crucial, because if you’re like most of us who’ve successfully passed the CPA, you’re likely holding down a 50 hour work week, making efficiency the key to success.

After you know what style of learning is best suited for you, read through my reviews of the top 7 CPA Exam review courses to find the one that’s going to help you pass the exam. I had to figure all this out the hard way, which is why I’ve tried to compile everything you need to know to become a CPA. It’s a long and difficult path that’s full of sacrifice and tons of discipline, but believe me, it’s worth it.

Don’t forget to check out my CPA study guide to supplement your review course studies so you can pass the CPA Exam on the first try!

Compare the Best CPA Review Courses

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  • Christina Derby
    Posted at 19 June, 2018 10:22 AM Reply

    Hi Bryce, I need your opinion. I have had my Bachelors Defree in Accounting for 25 years now. I have never worked for a CPA firm but o have done numerous accounting and taxation jobs. I am 53 yrs old and am wondering if I should get my CPA or my Masters in Taxation. I like the tax world. What do you think?

    • Bryce Welker, CPA
      Posted at 27 June, 2018 20:25 PM Reply

      Hi Christina, all states now require 150 college credits to get your CPA license so I would definitely recommend starting with your Masters in Tax and if you are able to handle the workload then also go for your CPA! From my experience talking to lots of accounting firms they definitely seem to favor a CPA license over a Masters degree in Tax, so having both would give you a huge advantage.Cheers, Bryce

    • Dalia
      Posted at 4 April, 2018 19:01 PM Reply

      Hello-You mentioned working in Thailand - as well as having flexibility to work from anywhere in the world. Could you please elaborate how that was possible (aren't there restrictions on where you can service clients based on which state you obtained your license)?Thanks so much! Dalia

      • Bryce Welker, CPA
        Posted at 27 June, 2018 20:32 PM Reply

        Hi Dalia, my clients were small business owners so I didn't actually need my CPA license to work with them since I wasn't in the Public company sector. That being said, I would have never landed them as clients if I didn't have my CPA license in the first place and it opened a TON of doors for me to expand my business and get referred to other clients.Cheers, Bryce

      • Nicole
        Posted at 9 January, 2018 12:22 PM Reply

        [* Shield plugin marked this comment as "trash". Reason: Failed GASP Bot Filter Test (comment token failure) *] Hey Bryce in your opinion do you think getting a Masters Degree is better in the long run. Do frims like the Big 4 want you to have that?

        • Bryce Welker, CPA
          Posted at 16 January, 2018 21:53 PM Reply

          Hi Nicole,All states now require 150 college credits to get a CPA license which is the same amount needed to get your Masters degree.Cheers, Bryce

        • Hazem
          Posted at 15 September, 2017 15:23 PM Reply

          Hey Bryce I started taking CPA last month in KPMG Academy in Jordan they teaching us CPAexcel by Wiely ... and i'm very confused about how to study abd what is the perfect time to book a window , i am studying FAR nowadays , and by the way i deactivated my FB account and i'm spending most of my time trying to force my self in studying or browsing in your Website...

          • Bryce Welker, CPA
            Posted at 20 September, 2017 12:14 PM Reply

            Congrats Hazem! Deleting your Facebook is a huge step and will give you much more time to study, great job!

          • w03chu
            Posted at 30 January, 2017 07:55 AM Reply

            I want to be a CPA when I grow up too! Right now I'm only a freshman in Accounting 2 😅, but I am very interested in it!

            • Ashley
              Posted at 14 November, 2016 03:36 AM Reply

              Hi Bryce,I am a military spouse and I've been considering going back to school to get my masters in accounting. It is extremely difficult to hold a career as a military spouse. Do you feel that getting my MAcc & CPA license as a military spouses would be beneficial? I'm very confused on the state requirements- do you have to sit and pass all 4 parts of the CPA exam at each state that the military takes us?

              • C2C
                Posted at 9 September, 2016 12:40 PM Reply

                Great article!

                • BWelk
                  Posted at 13 September, 2016 02:05 AM Reply

                  Thanks :)

                • Sophie
                  Posted at 8 September, 2016 02:29 AM Reply

                  Hi, I just passed my last part of cpa last month. My scores were in the high 70‘s and low 80‘s. Is that a problem? Also, I finished before I started working for one of the big 4, will I be valued more as an employee and get bigger raises?

                  • BWelk
                    Posted at 13 September, 2016 02:08 AM Reply

                    Any score of 75 or higher is the same, a PASS - congrats! Getting your CPA license definitely makes you much more valuable and they can probably bill you at a higher rate which will translate into bigger raises in the long term for sure.Cheers,Bryce

                  • Jyoti
                    Posted at 18 July, 2016 21:12 PM Reply

                    Hello Bryce,Your article on CPA is much appreciated. Its a boosting one and increases the level of confidence. I am from India and I will be taking my exams in Aug 2016. I am just looking out for such energy boosting blogs like yours.Thanks for this :)

                    • BWelk
                      Posted at 15 August, 2016 23:24 PM Reply

                      Thanks for your support Jyoti!

                    • Adarsh Sharma
                      Posted at 18 June, 2016 06:34 AM Reply

                      Hi Bryce,I'm a master of commerce aged 40 years. Please guide me if earning a CPA license would be worth at this stage and also how beneficial it will be further from this stage. My overall experience is over 18 years.Regards

                      • Gregory
                        Posted at 14 June, 2016 23:20 PM Reply

                        is it easy to find jobs when i become cpa certified

                        • Shak
                          Posted at 29 April, 2016 18:27 PM Reply

                          Hello Bryce,Your blog is so helpful in giving me motivation to pursue my CPA journey. I graduated with BA in accounting in Dec'15 and took up an internship for tax season soon after. Currently,my internship is over and I am waiting for the CBA approval and NTS. I would like to know if I should wait for NTS on my application before buying review course or go ahead buy one and get started with my studies. I plan to buy Roger's review course.Please advice. Also after my internship I have had very little luck getting any interview calls or job offers considering my no work experience background. I am hoping that passing all four parts of CPA exam with improve my situation...any comments??

                          • BWelk
                            Posted at 19 May, 2016 21:29 PM Reply

                            Hi Shak,Thanks for your support! Definitely order the Roger CPA review course now and start studying right away. No need to waste time waiting , by the time you get your NTS you'll be nearly ready to take your first section!Cheers,Bryce

                          • Joshua De La Cruz
                            Posted at 26 March, 2016 06:26 AM Reply

                            Hi, I received a ba in telecom, and later decided to pursue an mba. I am interested in CPA exam, and my school offers an accounting certificate valid toward the accounting education requirement for exam; wondering if my masters credits will count towards the business requirements. Any advice?

                            • BWelk
                              Posted at 31 March, 2016 19:41 PM Reply

                              Hi Josh, I'm not sure about your specific situation.. can any other readers here help him out?

                            • Jacob
                              Posted at 25 March, 2016 20:53 PM Reply

                              Hi Bryce, I took the FAR section of the CPA exam about a year ago now. I did very poor, scored around the 40's and was jus discouraged and never got back to it. But now, I'm thinking about getting back to it, and just sacrificing all I can and pass the exam, now I've sat for one exam and I know what it takes to pass them. Also, I know the exam is changing soon, so I thought if I do it I might as well get on it now...I am a working accountant, as the same time I enjoy management and actually graduated with both Accounting and Management degree...and thinking instead to just pursue my MBA. what do you think? I'm very indecisive and lost for what I should do...please advice??

                              • BWelk
                                Posted at 31 March, 2016 19:34 PM Reply

                                Hi Jacob,From my experience I know that accounting firms value a CPA license much more than an MBA.. usually pays more too :)

                              • Brittany S
                                Posted at 4 March, 2016 13:13 PM Reply

                                Hello! I have just come across your site and wanted to get your opinion on my situation. I graduated with a BS in business admin in 2010. I had originally started as an accounting major but had a minor panic attack about it during my last year and switched to general business. I regret doing that now. I'd like to go back and finish up my degree since I'm only a few short courses away, but at this point I don't know if I can afford more school. I'm still paying on my loans from the first time. Anyway, I'm wondering if it would be worth pursuing in order to eventually take the CPA exam. I would have to take a few more accounting courses to get the required credits to sit for the exam. I'm just worried that I'm going to be so rusty that I won't remember it well enough. I've been kicking myself for not sticking it out ever since I graduated. On the other hand, I think now I'm more determined and would put much more effort into it now that I've had more years of maturing under my belt. What would you suggest?

                                • BWelk
                                  Posted at 8 March, 2016 05:03 AM Reply

                                  Yes it's definitely worth it! I've talked to CPA candidates who have been out of school for over 20 years and then decided to get their CPA license and were so happy they did!Cheers,Bryce

                                • Obed
                                  Posted at 2 February, 2016 21:12 PM Reply

                                  Hello, I am in college right now and I would like to know your recommendation, I would like to know if I should get my Masters then sit for the CPA right after or I should get my bachelor's degree, work for a few years, get my Masters then sit for the CPA?I will appreciate any other suggestions beside the above two, kind regards.

                                  • BWelk
                                    Posted at 3 February, 2016 02:59 AM Reply

                                    I would suggest starting your CPA studies as soon as possible because all of your accounting knowledge will be fresh in your head which gives you a huge advantage!Cheers,Bryce

                                  • zofa300
                                    Posted at 29 December, 2015 07:29 AM Reply

                                    Hi,I have B.Sc in accounting and have MBA from one of the 3 top schools in the USA in 2008. I have not worked since then. Currently I am looking for a job. However, I find it hard to get an entry accounting level job. I am willing to take CPA. However, I am not sure if that will help me to get a job or not. Any advise is appreciated.Another question, I am aware of all CPA sections except taxes part as I have never take any USA taxes courses. Do you recommend start with FAR or REG? Thanks

                                    • BWelk
                                      Posted at 15 January, 2016 04:12 AM Reply

                                      Yes getting your CPA license will make it much easier to get an accounting job! Out of those two options FAR would be a much better choice to start with.Cheers,Bryce

                                      • zofa300
                                        Posted at 15 January, 2016 04:44 AM Reply

                                        Thank you so much for your encouragement. Do you know about Miles CPA review material online?

                                        • BWelk
                                          Posted at 21 January, 2016 23:39 PM Reply

                                          Hi, I've heard of Miles CPA review however have not tried it out for myself though. Will reach out and see if I can get a free demo of their material though.Thanks for the suggestion!Bryce

                                    • Sara
                                      Posted at 7 November, 2015 05:49 AM Reply

                                      Thanks for this article. Just what I needed to read right now. I'm almost done with taking Accounting 2 and wondering how much harder intermediate accounting is... and how do I keep all this information in my head before I sit for the exam?! Do you just rely on the exam prep material?

                                      • din0bot
                                        Posted at 28 May, 2015 05:50 AM Reply

                                        I absolutely love your Elvis quote. I am taking AUD in two days!! Two down two to go!

                                        • BWelk
                                          Posted at 3 June, 2015 04:23 AM Reply

                                          Awesome job, keep up the good work!!

                                        • Branden
                                          Posted at 1 May, 2015 04:09 AM Reply

                                          Hey, awesome article. I had a question about shorter term benefits of taking the CPA exam. I am in a Master of Acc. program that I will finish in October. I know I can commit to a study schedule and knock out two of the exams this summer, but I feel like it would be easier to just wait till after college, since I am working through school. On the other hand I will be applying for positions this fall during the recruiting season. Is it worth the extra hassle of passing a few of the CPA exams prior to recruiting season? I have heard recruiters greatly value CPA candidates who have already passed an exam or two. Is that true or just a myth? Thanks for the great blog posts!

                                          • BWelk
                                            Posted at 5 May, 2015 00:21 AM Reply

                                            Hi Branden, I think the most important thing is not overlaoading yourself which will mostly likely cause your school, work, and CPA studies to suffer. If it was me I would wait until after school, but that's just because I like to focus on one thing at a time and do it really well.I'm not sure how recruiters/companies feel about people who have already knocked out a section or two of the exam, can someone else here offer some insight on this?Cheers,Bryce

                                            • Branden
                                              Posted at 11 June, 2015 04:14 AM Reply

                                              Thanks for the input! I definitely agree, I don't want to stretch myself too thin, and I do plan on taking a Barbeque approach to the CPA exam; I'm taking it low and slow. Low pressure and slow methodical studying.