Is Becoming an Accountant Worth the Investment?

You may be attracted to the security, the responsibility or the intensity of accounting – or maybe all three. Regardless, before you take the plunge, you are probably wondering if the swim is worth the wet.

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Accountants have an opportunity to make big money and control even more. The path is relatively clear; for instance, this guide provides guidance on how to master the CPA exam. You have more resources and guidance than perhaps any generation of potentates before you, but you still have to do your part.

Here’s your part.

Exam Costs

“You have to pay the cost to be the boss” or “it takes money to make money.” Either one of those idioms could apply here; take your pick. The bottom line is that you will pay for the attempt at becoming an accountant.

This is a relatively small investment for a confident acolyte, as you will earn the money back within the first few hours of your professional employment. Having an upfront cost for the CPA exam in place also encourages some people to study harder. Are you one of those people?

You will pay at least $50 for the CPA exam application fee. The fee only applies assuming that your application is accepted and you do not let your authorization to test (ATT) expire.

Exam fees will run you an average of $193.45 per section. The sections on the CPA come a la carte; so depending on the certification you want, you will pay more or less.

Next, your state registration fee will apply based on the number of CPA exam sections that you choose to take. Signing up for multiple sections gives a slight discount. One section costs $63; two, $81; three, $99; and four $177.

If you are in a state that requires passing an ethics exam upon successful completion of your CPA exam, then you will pay for this privilege as well. Taking the AICPA ethics exam will cost you a minimum of $150, although you receive a study booklet included in the fee.

Finally, you will owe state CPA licensing fees, and you will also be responsible for maintaining your continuing education to the tune of 40 hours per year. Licensing fees range between $50 and $500. Your continuing education will run about $1000 per year.

There are additional costs if you fail sections repeatedly or if you are an international candidate.

Review Courses

Taking a CPA review course is completely optional. There is no requirement to show that you took one in order to become an accountant. You should know that the CPA exam is made to be an exclusive affair, however. You have a much better chance of passing when you study under the wing of someone who has already mastered it.

CPA prep courses usually run within a range of $1000 to $3000. Keep in mind that the course will not guarantee the successful completion of your journey. It provides the guideline for you, but you have to fill in the rest with your own sweat and blood.

Your Time Investment

Your CPA tutor cannot take the exam for you. Until the information from the course material makes its way into your brain, you need to continue your investment of time into the process. As a soon-to-be accountant, you know that time is money. There is an economic opportunity cost you take on when you choose to spend extra time studying for your exams.

This opportunity cost definitely varies from person to person. Are you willing to focus more so that your study time occurs in a shorter period? Do you have a natural predilection to the topics being studied? Only you can really affirm how much this investment is worth to you. This is both an advantage, because you control the entire process; and a disadvantage, because you control the entire process. There is no one to blame if things go wrong.

Is becoming an accountant worth the investment? Now that you have the numbers, you can make an informed choice. Good luck, study hard, and make your next move your best move!

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