The path to becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) typically involves obtaining an accounting degree, fulfilling educational requirements, and passing the CPA exam. However, not everyone takes the traditional route to achieve this prestigious certification. In this article, we will explore the unconventional path to becoming a CPA without an accounting degree, share real-life experiences of non-accounting graduates who successfully became CPAs, and discuss the reasons why an accounting degree is not always necessary for the CPA exam.
The Unconventional Route to Becoming a CPA
For those who did not pursue an accounting degree, becoming a CPA requires a different path. Instead of entering the accounting field right after graduation, some individuals may work in related fields such as finance, business, or law. To be eligible to take the CPA exam, non-accounting graduates need to meet the educational requirements set by their state board of accountancy. This typically involves taking additional accounting and business courses to meet the minimum credit hours required.
One non-traditional path to becoming a CPA is through a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. Some MBA programs offer accounting courses that meet the educational requirements for the CPA exam. For example, the MBA program at the University of Maryland has a track that prepares students for the CPA exam, even if they did not major in accounting.
From English Major to Certified Public Accountant
It is possible to become a CPA without an accounting degree, and English major Rachel did just that. After graduating with an English degree, Rachel worked in bookkeeping for several years before deciding to pursue a career in accounting. She took additional accounting courses at a community college, passed the CPA exam, and became a CPA. Rachel is now a successful accountant with her own business.
Why an Accounting Degree Isn’t Always Necessary for the CPA Exam
The CPA exam tests candidates on their knowledge of accounting, taxation, auditing, and business laws and regulations. While an accounting degree provides a solid foundation in these areas, it is not the only way to gain the necessary knowledge. Some non-accounting graduates may have gained relevant experience through their work in finance, business, or law that prepares them for the CPA exam. Additionally, taking additional accounting courses can provide the knowledge needed to pass the exam.
Another reason why an accounting degree is not always necessary for the CPA exam is that the exam has evolved over time. The current exam includes more topics such as data analytics, technology, and cybersecurity that are not necessarily covered in a traditional accounting degree. Thus, having a non-accounting degree may actually provide an advantage in some areas of the exam.
In conclusion, obtaining an accounting degree is the most common path to becoming a CPA, but it is not the only path. Non-accounting graduates can also become CPAs by meeting the educational requirements and passing the CPA exam. The CPA exam tests candidates on their knowledge of accounting, taxation, auditing, and business laws and regulations, which can be gained through additional courses or relevant work experience. As the CPA exam continues to evolve, having a non-accounting degree may actually provide an advantage in some areas of the exam. So, if you are interested in becoming a CPA but do not have an accounting degree, do not let that stop you from pursuing your goals.