Becoming a Certified Public Accountant requires getting a four-year degree and passing all four sections of the CPA exam. However, the benefit is a steady and well-paying job, which is why so many students are turning to it as a career option. But how viable is this career if you don’t get a degree in “Accounting” specifically?
It is possible, but it’s going to require a lot of careful planning and hard work. Here’s what you need to know:
You May Need To Take Extra Classes
One of the barriers to becoming a CPA is the credit hour requirement. For this, you need a minimum number of accounting credit hours which varies from state to state. Before you get started, you should check with your state’s licensing board to determine the exact qualifications you need to meet. Each state is different, so this can also be a time to shop around if a certain state’s requirements are easier for you to reach than another’s.
You will also need to meet the 150 general higher education credit requirement in order to demonstrate that you have enough experience. Most four-year degrees will leave you with 120 hours, which is why many students turn to a master’s program to help them reach the 150 mark. If you’re a non-accounting major, this can be an opportunity for you to take accounting classes to boost your credits.
This will obviously be easier for people with degrees in somewhat related fields like finance or economics, as some of your classes may have overlapped with accounting. If you have a completely non-related degree (like humanities or science), don’t give up! It will take some extra work, but consider this experience as a time to help you study for the CPA exam.
There Are Still Work Experience Requirements
You will also need to have 1 to 2 years of relevant job experience on your resume in order to receive your CPA certification. As an accounting major, this can be easier as you may have an internship or school-sponsored job to help you cover this requirement. However, non-accounting majors can still fulfill this requirement by working for a few years in a public accounting job.
Be aware that while most states will accept non-public accounting work experience (corporate or government accounting, for example), there are some that will not. As always, be sure to check your local state requirements.
If the credit hour requirements seem too difficult to navigate with your schedule or goals, there are other options. Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certifications and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designations have much more flexible requirements and can work with any bachelor’s degree holder.
You can also always look into CPA tutoring options to help you fill in any gaps you may be finding as a non-accounting degree holder. The CPA certification process is a lot of work but remember that you don’t have to go through it alone. There are many invaluable resources available online that can help you reach the career of your dreams.