A certified public accountant, or CPA for short, offers his/her or her services to companies or individuals in preparing forms for tax returns and financial statement documents. CPAs oversee audits, keep track of clients' financial records, and contribute to budgeting processes.

Knowing how to develop and implement bookkeeping policies and being familiar with local and federal laws and regulations of taxing procedures is a must, as this is what poses the challenge for people hiring CPAs. CPAs generally have basic computer skills and use accounting software to make the most of their time and resources.

In order to become a CPA, you need to have a BA in Accounting, Finance, Business Administration, or a related field. As implied in the name, you need to obtain a certification to fill the role, and this is usually preceded by years of experience in the field as a public accountant.

What Does a Certified Public Accountant Do

There are certain skills that many certified public accountants have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed analytical skills, communication skills and detail oriented.

Learn more about what a Certified Public Accountant does

How To Become a Certified Public Accountant

If you're interested in becoming a certified public accountant, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 69.3% of certified public accountants have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 11.9% of certified public accountants have master's degrees. Even though most certified public accountants have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Learn More About How To Become a Certified Public Accountant

Certified Public Accountant Career Paths

Average Salary for a Certified Public Accountant

Certified Public Accountants in America make an average salary of $76,693 per year or $37 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $119,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $49,000 per year.
Average Certified Public Accountant Salary
$76,693 Yearly
$36.87 hourly
$49,000
10 %
$76,000
Median
$119,000
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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How To Become a Certified Public Accountant
How To Become a Certified Public Accountant Career Overview

States With The Most Certified Public Accountant Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active certified public accountant jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where certified public accountants earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Certified Public Accountant Jobs By State

RankStateNumber of JobsAverage Salary
1California4,995$76,168
2Texas2,877$77,561
3New York2,385$92,724
4Illinois2,203$69,494
5Virginia1,624$91,078
6New Jersey1,291$105,526
7Florida1,103$72,069
8Missouri1,038$61,056
9Arizona968$69,309
10Maryland885$90,210
11Oregon742$76,116
12Georgia702$77,256
13Massachusetts671$94,009
14Pennsylvania668$90,310
15Alabama612$60,249
16Kentucky601$59,546
17Ohio600$84,804
18North Carolina575$86,821
19Colorado528$62,464
20Louisiana525$61,792
21Oklahoma511$57,359
22Minnesota508$66,958
23Michigan463$80,754
24Utah429$60,445
25Washington399$75,348
26Tennessee375$73,147
27Mississippi346$58,185
28Nevada323$66,725
29Wisconsin318$63,238
30Arkansas308$59,211
31Indiana305$78,944
32Connecticut282$95,895
33Iowa241$56,781
34New Hampshire204$75,158
35South Carolina194$74,772
36South Dakota152$56,267
37Kansas145$56,347
38Hawaii121$57,414
39Nebraska120$51,787
40Montana108$57,765
41Alaska105$67,497
42Rhode Island99$80,900
43New Mexico99$60,533
44Delaware94$97,851
45Vermont89$75,710
46Idaho80$53,767
47Wyoming77$50,931
48Maine59$72,168
49West Virginia57$70,307
50North Dakota28$53,128

Certified Public Accountant Education

Certified Public Accountant Majors

24.0 %
3.7 %

Certified Public Accountant Degrees

Bachelors

69.3 %

Masters

11.9 %

Associate

11.4 %

Top Colleges for Certified Public Accountants

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

3. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

4. SUNY at Binghamton

Vestal, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,808
Enrollment
13,990

5. Villanova University

Villanova, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,308
Enrollment
6,819

6. San Diego State University

San Diego, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,488
Enrollment
30,018

7. Bentley University

Waltham, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$49,880
Enrollment
4,177

8. SUNY Farmingdale

Farmingdale, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,306
Enrollment
9,394

9. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

10. SUNY Stony Brook

Stony Brook, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,625
Enrollment
17,407

Top Skills For a Certified Public Accountant

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 48.0% of certified public accountants listed cpa on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and communication skills are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Certified Public Accountant Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Certified Public Accountant templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Certified Public Accountant resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Certified Public Accountant Resume
Certified Public Accountant Resume
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Certified Public Accountant Resume
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Certified Public Accountant Resume
Certified Public Accountant Resume

Certified Public Accountant Demographics

Certified Public Accountant Gender Distribution

Female
Female
57%
Male
Male
43%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among certified public accountants, 56.8% of them are women, while 43.2% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among certified public accountants is White, which makes up 67.5% of all certified public accountants.

  • The most common foreign language among certified public accountants is Spanish at 42.9%.

Work Experience Programs For Certified Public Accountants

Virtual work experience programs replicate work at top companies and help you gain the skills to be successful when applying and working there. In only a few hours, learn the relevant tools necessary to complete a typical work day at that company. Virtual work experience programs are 100% free, open-access, and self-paced. No experience or application is required!

Tax Program

Company: KPMG AU

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Career Catalyst: Tax Program

Company: KPMG U.S.

Cost: Free

Duration: 3-4 hours

Audit Program

Company: Grant Thornton Australia

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Career Catalyst: Audit Program

Company: KPMG U.S.

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Digital Assurance Program

Company: PwC Switzerland

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

UK Public Service Program

Company: Transform Society

Cost: Free

Duration: 2.5 hours

Commercial Banking Program

Company: JPMorgan Chase

Cost: Free

Duration: 5 hours

Public Health Policy & Management Program

Company: Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Corporate Tax Program

Company: PwC Switzerland

Cost: Free

Duration: 7-8 hours

Global Banking & Markets Program

Company: HSBC

Cost: Free

Duration: 5-6 hours

Online Courses For Certified Public Accountant That You May Like

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Financial Accounting Payroll
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Payroll calculations - federal income tax, social security, Medicare - Payroll journal entries posted to ledger accounts...

Financial Accounting-Adjusting Entries & Financial Statement
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Adjusting entry creation, posting adjusting entries to a worksheet, creating financial statements from the trial balance...

Financial Accounting Subsidiary Ledgers & Special Journals
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Subsidiary ledgers for accounts receivable & accounts payable. Special Journals - Sales journal, purchases journal...

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Best States For a Certified Public Accountant

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a certified public accountant. The best states for people in this position are New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Certified public accountants make the most in New Jersey with an average salary of $105,526. Whereas in Delaware and Connecticut, they would average $97,851 and $95,895, respectively. While certified public accountants would only make an average of $94,009 in Massachusetts, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. District of Columbia

Total Certified Public Accountant Jobs:
314
Highest 10% Earn:
$200,000
Location Quotient:
1.64

2. New Jersey

Total Certified Public Accountant Jobs:
1,291
Highest 10% Earn:
$172,000
Location Quotient:
1.43

3. New York

Total Certified Public Accountant Jobs:
2,385
Highest 10% Earn:
$153,000
Location Quotient:
1.63
Full List Of Best States For Certified Public Accountants

How Do Certified Public Accountant Rate Their Jobs?

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Top Certified Public Accountant Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ certified public accountants and discovered their number of certified public accountant opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Ernst & Young was the best, especially with an average salary of $113,102. Robert Half follows up with an average salary of $76,072, and then comes KPMG with an average of $85,098. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a certified public accountant. The employers include Intuit, Voya Financial, and Alight Solutions

Most Common Employers For Certified Public Accountant

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Intuit$119,626$57.5121
2Michaels Stores$118,306$56.8824
3Ernst & Young$113,102$54.38104
4RJ Young$110,246$53.0017
5Pwc$108,697$52.2645
6Thomas$103,758$49.8825
7BDO USA$103,406$49.7124
8Grant Thornton$103,085$49.5626
9Gary Null$100,526$48.3324
10Kemper$90,826$43.6718

Certified Public Accountant Videos

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant FAQs

Cpa Vs. Accountant

A CPA is an accountant that can sign a client's tax returns and also be a representative of a company or individual in the event of an IRS audit, while a regular accountant can do neither of those two tasks.

Chartered Accountant Vs. Cpa

A chartered accountant is a financial professional who is able to keep financial records and offer consultation, while a CPA is a certified public accountant that is a tax specialist.

Chartered accountants keep or organize financial information. Individuals and businesses employ them to assist with tax returns, financial statements, or lending agreements. Other tasks of chartered accountants include conducting payroll, managing investments and expenses, and accounting for internal finances such as transaction data.

Tax Accountant Vs. Cpa

A tax accountant is a CPA who works with businesses to develop a tax strategy to minimize their liabilities, while a CPA is a certified public accountant and may be a tax accountant.

Tax accountants are certified public accountants. Their main focus is on the preparation and management of taxes for a company or individual. They may also provide guidance on financial planning and estate planning.

How Can I Become A Cpa Without An Accounting Degree?

You can become a certified public accountant (CPA) without an accounting degree by earning a bachelor's degree in another field and passing an exam to obtain licensure.

Every state requires a bachelor's degree to become a certified public accountant (CPA). Some states require a bachelor's degree in accounting, specifically. However, many states will accept a bachelor's in any field, with some having course requirements in subject areas like taxes and auditing.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Public Accountant?

It typically takes five or more years to become a certified public accountant (CPA).

This includes time to complete a four-year bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field and 1-4 years of experience, depending on your state's requirements.

Is A Cpa Better Than A Ca?

No, a certified public accountant (CPA) is not necessarily better than a chartered accountant (CA).

The primary difference between the two public accounting certifications is that a certified public accountant (CPA) certification is only valid in the United States and, more specifically, in its issuing state.

What Are The Best Gifts For A Cpa?

The best gifts for a CPA are smartwatches, gift baskets with office supplies, and accountant-themed personalized items.

CPAs, in particular, can get great use out of smartwatches; they have features that can make their jobs and lives in general easier. Do some research to find out which smartwatches have features that would be most appealing to the CPA you have in mind.

What Does It Take To Be A Certified Public Accountant?

It takes a bachelor's degree, licensure, and various technical and soft skills to be a certified public accountant (CPA).

The first requirement to be a certified public accountant (CPA) is a four-year bachelor's degree, preferably in accounting. Depending on a state's educational requirements, it is possible to become a CPA with a bachelor's degree in an applicable field, such as finance or business administration.

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