Deciding to take a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) review course can be a smart future career step, especially as a college student who is considering becoming a CPA.
Why? Because if you are thinking about becoming a CPA, you must first pass the CPA Exam, so partnering with a CPA review course is always a good decision to help you pass the CPA Exam the first time.
So, when is the best time to think about taking a CPA Review course to prepare for the CPA Exam? Below are descriptions of when to take a CPA Review course during different times in your school and career.
Taking a CPA Review Course as an Undergraduate
Many states require a bachelor’s degree and one year of full-time accounting experience to register for a CPA Exam test date. If you are sitting for the exam in a state with these requirements, the best strategy is to keep your grade point average high through graduation and to start considering a CPA Review course during your senior year or right after you graduate.
The benefit of starting the CPA Exam process fresh out of college is that many of the CPA Exam topics and concepts are still fresh in your mind, so passing one or two sections of the CPA Exam will be easier at this point in your education and career.
Another requirement to obtain CPA licensure is to gain accounting work experience. Some states do not require a full year of accounting experience to be obtained before sitting for the CPA Exam, which opens the door for many recent college graduates.
Some of these jurisdictions will even waive the bachelor’s degree mandate for final-year students who are on track to graduate with the required credit hours. In this situation, beginning a CPA review course in your senior year is a great career move.
As stated earlier, the exam measures command of accounting theory, so it is best to tackle the tests while college-honed study skills are still intact. Completing even one section of the four-part CPA exam moves you a big step closer to your goal of becoming a CPA and also looks really good on your resume. Recruiters will see you as ambitious and hard-working, which is always a bonus when you’re in the hiring process.
Taking a CPA Review Course as a Graduate Student
Many college graduates decide to continue their accounting education by obtaining a master’s degree in accounting (MAcc). An advantage of getting a MAcc is that you will fulfill all the educational requirements to become a CPA and will also allow you to work on passing the CPA Exam while in school.
Another benefit of getting a MAcc while working towards your CPA credential is that you will be furthering your career, while in school. Of course, you can also further your career with a MAcc in any position, especially if it’s coupled with your CPA license and professional experience.
There are also specialization opportunities you will have access to as a MAcc candidate, which includes moving into positions such as financial vice president, treasurer, or controller from management accounting. Continuing your accounting education allows you more opportunities as an expert in a particular field in which you want to work.
Taking a CPA Review Course in a Combined Academic Program
A growing number of colleges now offer a streamlined path to both bachelor’s and master’s degrees combined with a CPA review course. In these accelerated programs, undergraduates can earn double credit for taking select graduate-level courses.
The CPA review component is typically reserved for fifth-year students and offered in partnership with an established CPA Review prep course provider. If you plan to sit for the CPA exam in a state that does not require a year of professional experience, this may well be the most time-efficient route to the accounting credential.
Some schools may even count the CPA review lessons towards degree credit hours.
However, there are some drawbacks to enrolling in a combined program. A student’s career goals may change in college. You might enter college as an accounting major only to find that you would rather switch to finance or marketing.
Switching out of a combined program is often substantially more difficult than changing majors in a traditional college track.
In terms of the integrated CPA review course, you will have access to different CPA Review providers which allow you to figure out which one is best for your learning style. With careful consideration, you can find a CPA Review course that works best for you.
Taking a CPA Review course while in college or during graduate work is a great way to get an early start in your CPA career. Once you obtain the educational requirements needed and get some work experience completed, you are ready to sit for the CPA Exam.
The earlier you get the CPA credential requirements completed, the faster you can start working in your career!