Are You Suited to be a CPA?

Matt Shelly
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Accounting is a fairly safe choice for people looking for steady employment. In addition to being highly respected, accountants enjoy job security. CPA jobs are plentiful, and the skills needed to be successful in the accounting industry transfer easily to other careers. Before signing up for college courses, however, you should make sure becoming a CPA is right for you.

A certified public accountant (CPA) is an accountant who has passed the Uniform Public Accountant Examination and has acquired the education and training required by the state where the person plans to practice. The CPA jobs available to people with this designation fall primarily within assurance services—an area that deals with the accuracy of disclosures, adherence to accepted accounting practices, and similar responsibilities. However, CPAs can be found in a variety of finance jobs including financial planning, forensic accounting, and corporate governance.

All of these CPA jobs require a certain skill set and temperament to be successful. For example, people must be detail oriented. Missing even a minute element could mean the difference between compliance with the law and being investigated by a government agency. Accountants must also be willing and able to study those details for long periods of time. If you have a short attention span or get antsy when staying still too long, a career as a CPA may not be right for you.

Communication is another must-have skill for accountants. Gone are the days when accountants would crunch numbers in a lonely office down the hall. CPA jobs today require frequent interaction with clients, coworkers, and managers. In addition to knowing how to handle different personality types, you must be able to explain complex financial concepts in an easy-to-understand way. You'll often be called upon to discuss your ideas and findings in person and through written reports, so strong verbal and writing skills are also important.

If you're contemplating a career as a certified public accountant, think about the following:

  • Do you enjoy solving puzzles? Much of the work you'll do as a CPA will involve uncovering problems and developing viable solutions.
  • Do you have high standards? In addition to being accurate and detail oriented, you must be ethical.
  • Are you a logical thinker? CPAs analyze information and draw relevant conclusions.
  • Do you enjoy working with numbers? As an accountant, numbers will be a constant part of your life. You must be good at and enjoy math.

CPA jobs in the accounting industry are numerous and can open doors to other exciting careers such as Chief Financial Officer at a Fortune 500 company. To ensure you are happy with your career choice, take time to consider the skills and personal qualities required by CPA jobs and whether or not you are a good match.



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