Accounting clerks: The perks of earning your CPA
Learn the benefits of earning your certified public accountant certification if you're pursuing an accounting clerk position.
How to advance your accounting clerk career
Many current and prospective accounting clerks haven't considered becoming a certified public accountant (CPA). Many may feel like they're getting ahead of themselves pursuing such an advanced qualification so early in their careers, yet earning your CPA certification can prove more valuable in the long run than mastering other accounting skills.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be an 8 percent decline in accounting clerk jobs by the year 2024; this is most likely due to advances in computer technology, which has automated many of the tasks traditionally performed by accounting clerks. Since this occupation is on the decline, more advanced qualifications — such as the CPA certification — will prove useful for those interested in pursuing this field.
What does the CPA certification entail?
Like many certifications, the requirements to become a CPA vary from state to state. AccountingCoach provides a useful breakdown of requirements state-by-state, but the following are typically required across the board:
- Complete 150 semester hours of postsecondary study in accounting or a similar area of study.
- Have at least two years of work experience in accounting.
- Pass four CPA exams within 18 months.
Meeting these criteria requires a significant time commitment, but many accounting employers will allow some flexibility for employees pursuing a CPA certification. CPAs must complete additional studies or take occasional refresher exams in most states to maintain their licenses.
Why is a CPA certification important?
If you have your CPA as an accounting clerk, you can more clearly and thoroughly understand the language and practices of the accountants you help. Using the skills you've learned, you'll better comprehend the jobs you're tasked with, expediting the workflow of accountants you're assisting — and earning a reputation at your firm for efficiency and reliability. You may even catch computing or accounting errors that your accountants are simply too busy to notice. And if cohesion and teamwork depend on mutual understanding, speaking the "language" of accountants will help you communicate better, encouraging managers and higher-ups to place more trust in you and give you additional responsibilities.
But becoming a CPA won't just benefit your firm — it will eventually benefit you, too. Accounting clerk positions are often a stepping stone to higher positions within a firm, including managerial ones; as such, earning your CPA certification is an important step to take if you're looking to climb the career ladder. And if that weren't incentive enough, holding a position as an accounting clerk fulfills the work experience requirement of the CPA qualification, meaning there couldn't be a better time professionally to become a CPA. The knowledge and skills you gain in your position will also help prepare you for your CPA exams. Accounting employers will look upon CPAs more favorably when doling out additional responsibilities and promotions.
Of course, earning your CPA certification doesn't mean you have to continue working your way up the accounting ladder. CPAs also transition to jobs in sales, management, consulting and more at many companies; although not all of the accounting skills you will have earned will be directly applicable, prospective employers will appreciate (and potentially reward) the dedication and hard work you put into becoming a CPA.
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