Accounting Careers: Pros and cons of an accounting career path

If you’re looking into accounting careers, you have a lot to consider. After all, an accounting career can be rewarding if you’re up for the challenge. On the other hand, if you work in an accounting specialization that doesn’t your fit personality, you could find it difficult.

But first, before you start down the accountant career path, you should understand some basic accounting career terms. Take the distinctions between public and private accounting positions, for example. Or the nuances between accounting positions and where they can take your career. So in this article, I’ll cover different paths for your career in accounting. Near the conclusion, I’ll also list the top 5 pros and cons of becoming an accountant.

Careers in Accounting

Accounting is essentially the act of recording, analyzing, and verifying financial transactions and business activities. And now is a good time to join the profession. After all, the field is expected to grow about 4% in the next ten years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Plus, the field has diverse positions that fit almost every personality type. And even better, salaries are strong and the demand for qualified accountants is high.

Although the myth of accountants being number nerds who love math isn’t really accurate, most accountants do have some common skillsets. For example, you’ll need to be:

  • Analytical and someone who likes to solve problems
  • Comfortable with numbers
  • Able to interpret financial data
  • Detail-oriented
  • Good at communicating information, whether verbally or via financial reports

In addition, most accountants pursue a bachelor’s degree, although it can be in accounting or a related field like business or finance. What’s more, most public accountants go for their CPA (Certified Public Accountant) credential that requires 150 credit hours of higher education or a master’s degree. And depending on your career path, you could also consider the CFA, CIA, CMA, or EA qualifications, too. They each have their own education and work experience requirements.

The Accounting Career Path: Public vs. Private

Accountants can be employed in both public and private settings. Public accountants deal with public clients, while private accountants work for one specific business or organization. Let’s go over the differences.

Public accounting careers

In the most basic terms, public accountants prepare and review the accuracy of financial documents that their clients must file or disclose to the public. However, they do so from an outside perspective. That is, most public accountants are either self-employed or work for firms that are hired by a range of clients. For example, public accountants can work for businesses, non-profits, governments, and even individuals who hire their firms.

Public accounting includes audit, tax, and advisory services. What’s more, most public accountants work at CPA firms. Small or regional firms can provide opportunities for early-career leadership. But employment at large firms like the Big 4 of Deloitte, Ernst and Young, KPMG, and PWC provide many diverse opportunities. Still, accountants who start in the public sector often transition to private after a few years to find new job prospects.

Private accounting careers

In contrast, private accountants only deal with the financial documents of the company they work for. Usually, they analyze financial data and prepare reports for internal managers. This info, in turn, helps managers make data-backed business decisions. Many accountants in these so-called private settings can work in financial reporting, forecasting, internal audits, and even corporate tax.

Both public and private accounting jobs are hectic. After all, public accountants work long hours during tax season, and private accountants can be busy at the end of fiscal quarters. However, private accountants usually have less travel, since they tend to go to the same office every day.

Accountant Career Paths

Of course, the accounting field has many niches to choose from. I’ve listed some of the more popular routes below, but other roles include accounting clerk, actuarial accountant, bookkeeper, cost accountant, payroll accountant, and even real estate appraiser and more. In addition, some accountants go into information technology and business valuation, too. So as you can see, accounting careers are quite varied.

Of course, all accounting positions require fundamental skills in accounting principles. But once you’ve mastered them, you can branch out to other types of professional employment. Therefore, no one will follow the same accounting career path.

Public Accountant

Basically, public accountants provide various services to businesses, governments, non-profits, and even individuals. They can deliver accounting services, of course, but they can do auditing, tax, and consulting, too. However, the type of work a public accountant performs can actually be fairly diverse. For example, they could prepare and review a company’s financial statements one day. And the next day, they could move to analyzing budgets, preparing tax forms, or giving advice on multiple financial issues.

To reach your maximum potential as a public accountant, you should definitely pursue your CPA. With a Certified Public Accountant credential, you can achieve better positions and higher salaries that your uncredentialled peers won’t have access to.

Tax Accountant

Simply put, tax accountants help businesses, organizations, and individuals prepare tax returns. Of course, these forms must be filed at the federal, state, and local levels on a quarterly and annual basis. Therefore, tax accountants can stay busy all year long. However, they are the busiest right before a filing deadline.

Forensic Accountant

Forensic accountants analyze financial documents and look for evidence of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and tax evasion. For example, they might provide an analysis for legal cases or serve as witnesses in courts of law.

Financial Accountant

Financial accountants usually work for a single business or organization and assess fiscal performance. Basically, financial accountants prepare reports like balance sheets, cash flow statements, and profit and loss statements. These documents are usually geared toward individuals external to the company, like creditors, stockholders, and taxing agencies.

Managerial Accountant

Similar to financial accountants, managerial accountants also prepare reports that assess a company’s financial performance. They not only record financial transactions but also analyze and interpret financial information. However, unlike financial accountants, these documents are for internal use. That is, managerial accountants help companies budget, plan for the future, and improve their overall performance by making informed decisions about their finances.

Financial Planner

Unlike other types of accountants who deal with businesses or organizations, financial planners solely work with individual clients and help them improve their finances through budgeting and investing.

Internal Auditor

Internal auditors work inside business entities to make sure that their financial resources are being used properly and effectively. For example, they review financial records to certify that a company is in compliance with state and federal regulations. Likewise, they ensure that funds are not misappropriated or mismanaged.

Government Accountant

Accountants are needed at all levels of government. Therefore, government accountants have several roles. First, they help offices manage their funds and record how they are being spent. Second, they also guarantee that funds are being collected and spent according to current financial regulations.

Is Accounting a Good Career?

Like every job, the role of an accountant has its ups and downs. Some people find the work challenging but rewarding. Other accountants, however, don’t like their work/life balance and think their daily activities can be mundane. So let’s take a look at some of the top pros and cons of accounting careers.

5 Pros of a Career in Accounting

1. The work can actually be exciting

If you read through reviews of accounting jobs on websites like Quora or Reddit, you’ll notice that accountants have varied opinions about the field. Some love it, but some absolutely hate it. Still, accounting work can be exciting, especially if you enjoy analyzing data and using it to help businesses grow.

2. Accountants are always needed and the job market is fairly strong

The business world will always need accountants. Why? Well, accountants basically track money as it flows through a business or organization. And although many professionals might understand business principles, if they don’t have special accounting knowledge, they won’t be able to perform the analysis skills of a qualified accountant. In the end, that will affect a business’s bottom line.

Plus, even though software has automated and simplified some areas of accounting (such as cost accounting), companies still want human accountants to double-check the numbers. Therefore, accounting tends to be a stable career.

3. Accounting has niches for every personality type

People with all sorts of personality types work as accountants. For example, do you like meeting people and communicating with clients? Then look into the CPA. Are you especially detail-oriented and enjoy double-checking information and tracking down errors? Then look into auditing positions or even a path as a forensic accountant. Or do you prefer to work one-on-one with individuals to help them build a stronger financial future? In that case, a career as a personal financial planner might be right for you. And although some accountants have a lot of face-to-face time with clients, others don’t. So if constant communication with clients isn’t for you, you might do well working in a back office in private accounting.

In fact, the modern accounting field is becoming more diverse than ever. Nowadays, you can even specialize in diverse niches like environmental accounting and information technology.

4. Your accounting skills could help you climb the career ladder

A career in accounting can open up job opportunities in related business environments like finance, taxation, and banking. Plus, you could find yourself moving up in rank fairly quickly, as long as you network, pursue the right accounting credentials, and take your current position seriously.

5. Accountants have high earning potentials

The accounting professional usually has strong salaries, even for entry-level positions. Plus, if you chose to get your CPA, it’s not unusual to see your salary greatly increase—and maybe even double—within several years. Although you’ll work long hours, you could also expect a healthy paycheck.

5 Cons of Accounting Careers

1. Can involve a lot of studying and life-long learning

Depending on which particular accounting niche you settle on, you could have to commit a considerable amount of time and effort to study. For example, most accounting positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Other positions expect candidates to have a master’s degree, however.

Plus, depending on your career path, you should strongly consider a certification like the CPA, CMA, CFA, CIA, or others like the Enrolled Agent credential. Of course, each of these qualifications is accompanied by an exam (or in some cases, a series of exams) that requires a fair amount of studying to pass.

2. Plan to become a life-long learner

What’s more, many accountants need to complete annual CPE (continuing professional education) to keep their credentials active. So even after you graduate from college, you should plan to become a life-long learner as an accountant.

3. Studying for a credential exam is tough but doable

Some public accountants might tell you that studying for the CPA Exam was harder than studying for their accounting classes in college. Likewise, the pass rates for other accounting credential exams like the CFA, CIA, CMA, and EA also suggest that candidates should devote a lot of study time before tackling their tests.

However, several companies have developed review courses that greatly increase the chance of passing your exams on the first try. In the long run, it might be worth it to invest in a course and go for an accounting credential that could boost your career.

4. Work/life balance can be difficult at times

Accountants can struggle to find a good work/life balance because of the demanding schedules and long hours, especially in public accounting. Therefore, this is something to strongly think about before choosing a career in accounting. However, many firms are working to improve their culture and help their employees achieve a more balanced lifestyle.

5. The deadlines are tight and frequent

When you’re an accountant, you’ll always be working to meet cyclical deadlines. For example, public accountants must work around the tax cycles. Along the same lines, accountants employed in private settings prepare financial reports according to monthly or quarterly schedules. The work quite literally never ends.

Typical Accountant Salaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of average accountant salaries across the United States. According to their figures, accountants and auditors earn an average of $71,550 per year. Of course, salaries can ultimately vary by experience, education, and industry (such as public vs. private accounting). Plus, obtaining the CPA or other certifications can enhance your earning potential.

For example, here are the average salaries of some accounting-related professions in the US:

  • Bookkeepers and accounting clerks: $41,230
  • Cost estimators: $65,250
  • Budget analysts: $76,540
  • Financial analysts: $81,590
  • Personal financial advisors: $87,850
  • Financial managers: $129,890

Furthermore, accountants—especially those with credentials like a CPA—can move up to positions like corporate accountants, controller, or CFO and expect even higher salaries.

Need More Accounting Careers Advice?

After reading this article, do you think a career in accounting could be in your future? Accounting has helped many professionals achieve their goals, and you could be next!

If you need some additional information, check out these articles:

Best CPA Review Courses

Determine Which CPA Review Course Is Best For You!

In this thorough assessment of CPA review courses, I’ve compiled the top CPA review courses available. Because I have personally interacted with these courses, I truly believe one of them will be right for you. So, please rely on this comparison this page to scrutinize CPA review courses and select your preferred CPA Exam prep solution. With this information, you can discover the course that addresses your learning style.

Which is the Best CPA Review Course?

CPA Review Courses Becker CPA Surgent CPA Gleim CPA Wiley CPAexcel ​Roger CPA
Pricing for 4 Parts $​2,999 ​$2,899 ​$1,999 $2,800 ​$2,899
CPA Discount Save $1,045 (use code iPassPro) Save $1,250 (use code pass125) Save 20% when using my link Check Available Discounts Check Available Discounts
# of Lecture Hours 150+ 100+ ​100+ ​140 100+
# of MC Questions 7,000+ ​7,​700+ ​10,000+ ​12,000 ​6,000+
# of Simulations 400+ ​3​90+ ​1,300+ ​500+ ​400
Flashcards Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Money-Back Guarantee No Yes Yes Yes No
Access Time Limit Until You Pass ​​Until You Pass ​​Until You Pass ​Until You Pass ​​Until You Pass
Mobile App Yes ​Flashcard App Only No Yes Yes
Pass Rate Twice non-Becker students ​88% ​Not public ​9 out of 10 ​91%
Financing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
certified internal auditor job opportunities

From CIA to Dream Job: How to Prepare for and Discover Certified Internal Auditor Job Opportunities

By Nancy Thomas (future CIA)

In my household, we have something called ‘real talk’.

It’s when we talk about a specific subject authentically and truthfully even when a family member may feel uncomfortable. We understand that we have positive intentions for the discussion, so we allow it to have a positive impact on us.

In that same vein, let’s have some real talk about utilizing the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation to pursue your dream job and/or career track.

To get where you want to go with the CIA, you must prepare for and discover Certified Internal Auditor job opportunities. You can follow these steps to do so.

Prepare for Certified Internal Auditor Job Opportunities

Step 1: Combine Specific Skills and Skill Sets with the CIA

To make the most of the CIA certification, you must combine it with specific skills and skill sets.

To learn more about this mission, we should consult the expertise of a past IIA article co-authored by Richard Chambers, the President/CEO of the Institute of Internal Auditors, and Paul McDonald, Senior Executive Director at Robert Half International.

In Succeeding as a 21st Century Internal Auditor: 7 Attributes of Highly Effective Internal Auditors, Chambers and McDonald identify the skills that blend well with the CIA to create an attractive package of professionalism you can present to future employers.

  • Integrity
  • Relationship building
  • Partnering
  • Communications
  • Teamwork
  • Diversity
  • Continuous learning

Note that you can use the above skills and skill sets in a variety of jobs and/or careers.

For example, any position in the financial sector requires an elevated level of integrity as judged by factors including but not limited to personal creditworthiness and criminal background clearance.

Another example is the fact that you are most likely contemplating, are actively pursuing, or have achieved the CIA. These actions indicate that you ‘buy in’ to the concept of continuous learning.

Furthermore, communication will always be a critical skill regardless of the job. In any professional position, you must successfully communicate with other professionals and/or managers above and below your position as well as with your peers.

Step 2: Combine Updated Career Perspectives with the CIA

Utilizing your CIA also means embracing several different truths about having a successful career.

If you don’t adjust your perspective to include these viewpoints, you will struggle to secure your dream job and experience every advantage of the CIA.

So, to further prepare for Certified Internal Auditor job opportunities, you should accept these two truths.

  • Truth #1: Straight career tracks are no longer guaranteed.

My dad retired from one company after 32 years of a turbulent but overall successful executive career. As I came of age, his message to me about my career and success was crystal clear: “You will be successful, but your career will not look like mine”.

The following image is a good example of what my father was trying to convey to me and what I’m sharing with you. The days of the straight career track and one-company careers are nearly dead.

certified internal auditor job opportunities

The online professional contact platform LinkedIn infers that the average worker may have 10 different jobs before the age of 40. LinkedIn further reports that professionals who lived through the later years of the baby boom held nearly 11 jobs between the ages of 18-42. And finally, nearly two-thirds of those jobs were held between the ages of 18-27.

Economically speaking, we know that our lives today are radically different from those of our parents’ generation. And, every article I’ve researched indicates that the number of jobs individuals hold will continue to rise in the face of employment numbers that are as high now as they were back in the early 1960s.

This is not a terrible thing, it’s just our new reality.

  • Truth #2: You can never forget who you are.

Again, I’ll thank my father for this piece of advice: Confidence comes from knowing who and what you are.

He taught me that whenever you pursue a new academic degree or professional certification, you must remember who you are!

It’s easy to get discouraged by the situation or environment around you.

Under-employment or unemployment weighs heavy on the psyche of even the most talented individuals. Furthermore, downsizing, layoffs, or otherwise involuntary employment can be emotionally and physically devastating.

To get past the bad and/or uncertain times, it’s critical to be reminded of (and hold on to) what you brought to the table before the event occurred.

  • You are (or should be) a self- motivated individual who has a plan for their life.
  • You’ve worked hard to make hard choices and hard sacrifices to launch and further your career.
  • You possess leadership skills whether you’re comfortable leading or not.
  • You’re articulate whether you like public speaking or not.
  • Regardless of whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you have skills to be reckoned with.
  • You’re a team player and recognize the importance of team whether your project is a team of 1 or a team of 10. Moreover, you can successfully go back and forth between the two.

In summary, you are awesome and have strong skills and skill sets to offer any company for any position. Don’t forget that!

Discover Certified Internal Auditor Job Opportunities

Once you’ve prepared for CIA job opportunities, you must discover them.

This process may take a little more effort than you would expect, but all your hard work will certainly pay off when you’ve landed your ideal position. To discover Certified Internal Auditor job opportunities, take these two steps.

Step 1: Think Outside the Box about CIA Jobs

Thinking outside of the box in this competitive employment market is mandatory. There is no perfect path or proven method for reaching your goals.

You must take your CIA and knock on lots of different doors. Once you get in the door, you must determine how to best utilize your certification and your skills to move forward. It’s about making the CIA and its related skill sets work best for you.

Understand the metaphor correctly: Thinking outside of the box means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective; it often refers to novel or creative thinking.

With that definition, what does thinking outside of the box mean for the process of carving out your auditing career?

It means you should:

Refine Your Job Search

  • Look for jobs in industries outside your set of expectations
  • Remember that small companies need help too
  • Know that temporary and/or contract positions can be perfect, under the right circumstances
  • Look at starter positions that have the potential to make a big impact quickly
  • Draft your dream job description and then look for similar phrases and words on relevant job search platforms

You can also look for jobs under synonyms for auditing. Other descriptors that may be used to describe the work of internal auditors include:

  • Analysis
  • Examination
  • Certification
  • Scrutiny
  • Verification
  • Review
  • Balancing
  • Assess
  • Prioritize
  • Evaluation

You can get even more creative in your job searches by thinking like an employer. Where might advertising for an open position be cheaper than on the popular job search sites? When you think of the place, look there.

Additionally, you can’t be afraid to look for and reach out to companies and/or other CIA community members on LinkedIn and then continue to follow up with your contact.

Refine Your Resume

Finally, you can take steps to enhance your resume and improve your career profile in case a potential employer finds you first.

For instance, you can write an article for a trade magazine and add it to your list of publications.

Also, as soon as you earn the CIA, you can add that and the letters of your other degrees and certifications to the end of your name.

You can even reach out to former and current colleagues to request they add a public recommendation to your LinkedIn page.

Step 2: Combine a Positive Attitude with the CIA

The famed author Theodore Geisel (“Dr. Seuss”) wrote and animated one of my favorite books: Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Published in 1990, this book was the author’s last published work. I’d like to leave one of the opening paragraphs with you.

With your CIA in hand, remember the following:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. You know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

With obvious gender flexing, the book admonishes us to remember that WE have the ability to determine where WE will go.

Keep that in mind as you develop your skills, adjust your career perspectives, and seek out the job of your dreams.

Earn the CIA

Of course, if you don’t yet have the CIA certification, you aren’t yet ready to take advantage of those Certified Internal Auditor job opportunities.

You may have heard that becoming a CIA is a challenge that takes time and money, and that’s true.

But thankfully, earning the CIA certification can be easier than you think when you have the support you need. You’ll find that support at ipasstheciaexam.com. This site offers guidance for every step of the CIA process, CIA review course recommendations, and even CIA exam prep discounts.

Check out ipasstheciaexam.com today to start the process of becoming a CIA!

CMA Exam Prep Discounts

Check this page often for the latest CMA exam prep discounts and CMA promo codes! We’ve updated this page to reflect the best CMA discounts!

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Additional CMA Exam Prep Discounts

Frequently, the IMA supplies candidates, especially those in the Middle East, with discounts on CMA exam fees. For example, right now, you can use code IPASS15 to save 15% on your IMA membership and CMA application fee! Also, you can utilize our Becker CMA coupon, too!

Discounts on CMA Courses

You’ll start reaping the benefits of the CMA shortly after you earn it. In fact, with career advantages such as increased income, incentives, and job opportunities, the CMA will pay for itself pretty soon. But you’ll have to pay for it first. To secure the CMA, you must contribute sufficient time, effort, and funds to the process. Specifically, you’ll have to foot the bill for CMA exam fees and study materials.

While the CMA is worth the cost, you don’t want that cost to be any bigger than it has to be. And thankfully, CMA discounts keep those fees from becoming unmanageable. With CMA discounts, you can save hundreds of dollars on your review course. If you want to save big and pay less for the CMA, use one of these CMA discounts today.

The Best CMA Exam Prep Discounts

If you’re wondering how to choose between all these great CMA discounts, I’ve got some suggestions.

First, figure out what your must-haves will be. To be the best course for you, your CMA review must address your learning style and knowledge levels. It also needs good reviews and recommendations, and you can learn how the most popular courses on the market stack up in those areas in my CMA review course comparison. Once you know what you need in a CMA review course, see how well each CMA review course delivers so you can narrow down your options.

If you find that your favorite CMA course requires more funds than you were expecting, search for a CMA discount for that course. A CMA discount can save you hundreds of dollars, so it’s worth the effort to locate one!

Is the best CMA discount you can find still too small for your preferred course? In that case, you may need to bend your budget just a little. Trying to keep your CMA costs down is a great idea, but the course you need most likely offers a lot of value for the price point. Therefore, it’s worth the extra expense. The course that gives you everything you need to pass the first time is truly the ideal CMA course. If you get that course and pass fast, you can finish the CMA certification process faster and start earning back the money you put toward the CMA sooner than you think.

CMA Promo Codes

Sometimes, the CMA discount you want will require you to use a CMA promo code.

When you’re ready to use a CMA promo code, start by copying the code from this site. To copy the code, all you have to do is click the button that says, “Get the code!” or something like that. Clicking this button will copy the code for you and take you to the CMA review provider’s site. At their site, you can add the course you want to your cart. Then, at checkout, you’ll see a place to paste the code. After you’ve pasted the code there, click “Apply.” You’ll then see the cart refresh to reveal how much you’ve saved. With the coupon application covered, you can save big on your CMA exam prep and begin preparing to pass!

Really, the CMA promo code process is pretty simple. Give your new skills a go by using one of these CMA promo codes today!

Other Ways to Save on Your CMA Studies

The easiest and most effective way to save money is to pass the CMA exam on your first attempt. You can also take these 3 extra steps to make the most of your CMA investment.

1. Explore the Free Trial

A free trial lets you see how the course works and meets your learning needs before you make a monetary commitment. Gleim CMA and Wiley CMAexcel each offer free demos of their courses. Therefore, I suggest you start your review course search with one of these providers. You can also utilize these free CMA study resources too!

2. Make the Most of CMA Test Prep Software

The test prep software included in your CMA review course is not just a bank of practice questions. Instead, it’s a host of opportunities to improve your knowledge, as each question tests your familiarity with a certain concept. When you answer a question correctly, you confirm your deep comprehension of that concept. Conversely, when you get a question wrong, you prove that you need to put more time into that topic, and you also get to see where to adjust your thinking.

3. Put Together Some Personalized Flashcards

Yes, I know that many CMA courses provide digital or printed flashcards. However, there are so many benefits of making your own that I still suggest you do it.

When I was studying, I jotted the most important points and concepts down onto 3×5 index cards. Alternatively, some of my friends took notes in notebooks. As long as you’re letting your brain process the newly gained knowledge, either method is effective.

How to Choose a CMA Exam Prep Course

If you’re wondering, “Do I really need a CMA review course to pass the exam,” the answer is “Yes.” After all, with the right materials, you’ll probably study less because you’ll be reviewing the materials more effectively. Plus, there is a good chance that you’ll pass the exam much faster, too. So if you want to pass the CMA exam on your first try, read ahead for some advice on finding the right review course.

Picking a CMA Exam Prep Course

The CMA credential is granted by the IMA or Institute of Management Accountants. The IMA keeps track of the global CMA exam pass rate, which is only about 50%. Therefore, the IMA estimates that most candidates spend at least 150-170 hours studying for each part of this 2-part exam, or more than 300 hours. Plus, candidates who don’t study or don’t study with the right review materials often fail on their first attempt.

Although failing a CMA exam part isn’t the end of the world, the re-take fees can add up. And that’s why to save yourself money in the long run, it’s best to study with a good CMA review provider. The top ones on the market right now are Wiley CMAexcelGleim CMAHock CMA, and Surgent CMA. So below, you’ll find a short CMA course comparison. (Most of the providers have different levels of courses, and I’m only comparing the most comprehensive courses to be fair.) And then, I’ll give you some tips on how to find the course that matches your learning style.

CMA Exam Prep Course Comparison

  Wiley CMAexcel Platinum Review Course Gleim CMA Premium CMA Review 2021 Hock CMA Review Complete Surgent CMA Review Ultimate Pass
Access Length Until You Pass Until You Pass Unlimited Until You Pass
Interactive Learning Platform? Yes Yes No Yes
Test Bank / MCQs 5,500+ 3,000+ 3,532 3,945+
Essay Questions 16 137 66 65+
Video Lectures 66 hours 45+ hours 62 hours 60+ videos
Audio Lectures No Yes Yes No
Textbooks Print and digital Print and digital Print and digital PDF only
CMA Practice Tests Unlimited Unlimited 4 Unlimited
Price (before discounts) $1,800 $1,599 $1,249 $1,699

Brief Course Overviews

Wiley – A market leader in CMA exam prep

Wiley CMAexcel is a leader in CMA exam study materials and is one of the IMA’s Strategic Partners. Plus, the Platinum Review Course has plenty of learning tools, like over 5,500+ MCQs (multiple-choice questions), 16 essay samples, and 66 hours of videos. What’s more, the “Bite-Sized Lessons” in Wiley’s Efficient Learning System are designed to be short and efficient. Wiley also gives you an interactive study planner, a mobile app to study on the go, over 800 pages of online study text, print and/or digital flashcards, and an unlimited number of full-length practice exams. Not to mention, Wiley’s “11th Hour Final Review” will give you a boost right before your exam day by going back over the trickiest exam content.

Even better, Wiley has a Partner Until You Pass Guarantee, meaning that you won’t have to repay for your Wiley course if you happen to fail an exam section on your first attempt.

In addition, Wiley is one of several CMA review companies that now uses an interactive learning platform. The FocusMe Technology constantly monitors your learning progress. As you answer practice questions, it starts to understand what topics you need to study more. And then, the platform suggests study material based on the content areas you still need to strengthen.

Gleim – Quality study materials

Gleim CMA is another trusted exam review provider that has been helping candidates pass their exams for more than 40 years. If you pick the Gleim CMA Premium Review, you’ll get thousands of multiple-choice questions and sample essays, 45+ hours of video lectures that dive deep into the content, audio lectures, print and digital textbooks, and a personalized study planner. Plus, you can access your study materials until you pass the CMA exam. Gleim has taken the time to make sure that all its practice exams look and function just like the real CPA Exam, too.

Gleim uses an e-learning system, SmartAdapt, that will track how you’re performing on your practice questions. As it assesses your accomplishments, it will direct your daily studies to strengthen the material you’ve been missing in the questions.

The practice questions in Gleim’s test bank are high-quality and tough, just like those you’ll see on exam day. However, if you don’t already have a strong background in accounting, you’ll need to review your accounting concepts before tackling the practice questions.

Hock – A favorite with international candidates

Hock CMA is another review company that is popular with international and US-based candidates alike. Why? Well, Hock gives you high-quality CMA study courses for a lower cost than some other providers. For example, the Hock CMA Review Complete package is a good value with a personalized study planner, 62 hours of videos, 66 sample essay questions with answers, over 3,500 practice MCQs, comprehensive study texts (either PDFs or hard copies), digital flashcards, and 4 mock exams. And what’s more, Hock’s top package also includes unlimited access until you pass the exam, so you’ll never need to worry about renewing your CMA course.

Plus, Hock has a guarantee that can’t be beaten. If you study with Hock, work through most of the study materials, and practice most of the Hock questions but still fail a CMA exam section, Hock will actually pay for you to re-take it. So really, you can’t go wrong with Hock.

Surgent – Another strong choice to consider

And finally, Surgent CMA Review is another highly rated course to consider for your CMA prep materials. Surgent’s top course has over 60 hours of videos, almost 4,000 MCQs with detailed answer explanations, at least 65 sample essay questions, flashcards, full mock exams, and free updates when the content is modified. Plus, Surgent is known for its bite-sized video lessons. And even better, Surgent gives you access to personal virtual coaching sessions that could give you a study boost.

Surgent’s courses rely on personalized e-learning software, A.S.A.P. Technology. Basically, this AI platform creates customized study plans based on your exam date and performance throughout the course. And according to Surgent’s experts, this personalization greatly reduces the number of hours their users need to study for the CMA exam.

CMA Review Course Materials

Although every CMA exam review provider uses different tools, they all essentially have the same goal. That is, every system is designed to help you pass the CMA exam by leading you through learning exercises, practicing sample questions, and taking mock exams. Therefore, I’ll go over the learning tools I think are best, based on my experiences.

Adequate access length

First, before you purchase a CMA review course, I urge you to consider access length. Basically, some courses only let you access their online study materials for a limited time length – typically only 12 or 18 months. And right now, studying a year for the CMA exam might seem plenty long enough. But many candidates find that they need more time, since a lot can happen in a year in your personal and professional life that could delay your studies. After all, you don’t want to feel rushed to take the exam if you’re not prepared just because your review course access is about to expire. And what’s worse, if you fail a section, you might have to pay even more fees to keep studying with your existing review course.

So instead, some courses give you “unlimited” or “access until you pass,” meaning that you can keep using your online materials until you’ve passed the CMA exam. Therefore, I suggest going with one of the CMA courses that has unlimited access – it could save you some expenses and headaches in the long run.

Practice essay questions

Each half of the 2-part CMA exam includes both multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and essay scenarios that break down into 2-7 questions. These scenarios present complicated real-world situations and then ask you to choose an acceptable solution while explaining your justification. Although some CMA candidates think the essays are the hardest part of the exam, you can master them with some practice. So make sure you pick a CMA course with plenty of essay questions that are accompanied by answer explanations.

MCQs and test banks

Every year, the IMA writes new questions for the CMA exam and releases the previous year’s questions for study. Then, review providers collect these MCQs and essay questions and add them to their review course test banks. In fact, you’ll probably spend most of your study time going through your course’s bank of sample questions. After all, repeated practice with the sample questions is one of the best ways to test your skills and get the feel of the real exam.

For this reason, I suggest picking a CMA review course with lots of practice questions. If your course only comes with a few thousand MCQs, for example, you might find yourself reviewing the same questions over and over after you’ve been studying for a while.

E-learning and performance tracking platforms

E-learning tools are becoming more and more common in K-12 environments. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they are finding their way into the CMA exam prep market, too. E-learning platforms can personalize your learning experience and help you study faster.

For example, here’s how a typical interactive course might work. When you first begin using the course, the software will lead you through a series of quizzes to test your baseline knowledge of the subject matter. Then, the software analyzes your results and determines what exam content you already know and what you need to study. And next, the platform will integrate your results with a personalized study planner to develop weekly study goals. Basically, you’ll be encouraged to review textbook chapters and video lectures related to the content you missed on the quizzes. And to follow up, the course will then suggest questions you should practice.

Plus, some interactive courses with e-learning platforms also have diagnostic feedback that shows you what percent of the exam content you probably know, based on your performance on practice questions and mock exams. This sort of tool can be important to your studies because it helps you determine when you’re ready to sit for the exam. In the end, it can also maximize your study sessions and you might be able to prepare for the exam faster.

Personalized support

Even if you’re someone who likes to study alone, there’s a good chance that you’re going to have questions about the exam content at some point. Even if you’ve been working in the field a while, keep in mind that the exam is “academic.” Therefore, it tests nuances that you might not deal with in your daily work life.

So, some providers give their users access to accounting professionals to help when you have a question. That access comes in different forms, from personal tutoring to live (or live online) classes with instructor-student interaction. Other providers allow users to post questions to forums, and those questions are then answered by an expert.

In my opinion, this type of personalized support can be critical to getting those extra few points that mean the difference between failing and passing the CMA exam. Therefore, I strongly suggest looking for these features in a review course.

Customizable study planners

The CMA exam syllabus LOS, or Learning Outcome Statements, covers a lot of information. So much information, in fact, that you might feel overwhelmed without a personalized study planner. These tools, which are integrated into most of the top review courses, help you plan out your studies so you are assured to brush up on everything before your exam day.

For example, when you first start to use a review course, you should be able to input your anticipated exam day into your study planner. You’ll also enter the number of hours you have each week to study. Then, if you picked an integrated e-learning course that starts with a diagnostic quiz, your study planner will take those results and build your weekly schedule.

Each week, you’ll be prompted to review the material you haven’t seemed to conquer yet. And by planning out what you need to do each week, you’re more likely to stay on track and review all of the content most likely to appear on the exam.

Plus, I don’t know about you, but I tend to have much less stress when I have a plan. A customizable study planner takes a lot of the guesswork out of picking what to study and when. In the end, a good planner will prevent you from getting side-tracked.

Lectures – video and audio

Video and audio lectures, in addition to textbooks and question banks, are the backbone of many CMA candidates’ study arsenal. Therefore, if you’re someone who learns well from videos or webinars, I highly recommend going with a review course with high-quality lectures.

Of course, the definition of “high-quality” depends on the user. Some candidates, for example, learn best with shorter bite-sized lectures that only cover specific topics. Others look for engaging instructors, multi-media presentations that hold your attention, or classroom-like settings that feel more like you’re sitting in college instead of watching an online video. And of course, whatever review provider you choose, make sure that the lectures break down topics in a way that you understand. After all, it doesn’t matter how engaging the lectures are–if they don’t help you learn, they are wasting your time.

But how do you know if the lectures are good? Well thankfully, most courses offer some kind of free trial. I suggest taking advantage of these offers before you sign on the bottom line and purchase a course with lectures that don’t work for you.

Textbooks and study notes

Even though most courses might offer video lectures and online study tools, most candidates still do a lot of learning the old-fashioned way: by reading a textbook or study notes. In fact, I’m someone who likes to read hard-copy texts because I can take notes in the margins. Therefore, I suggest considering the quality of a provider’s textbooks when looking for a CMA course.

For example, some courses will send you hard-copy materials. Others only offer PDFs of these textbooks. Of course, you could print those PDFs and have the copies bound yourself. But that’s an added hassle and expense if you really don’t like reading textbooks on your computer screen.

Mock exams

In the end, the only way to truly know if you’re ready for the CMA exam is to take a practice exam. If you ace a practice one, then you might be ready to tackle the “real” exam. Therefore, it’s important to look for a course that comes with plenty of mock exams. For instance, some only have a few practice exams but others come with unlimited ones.

Plus, I also suggest going with a course that has mock exams with platforms that mimic the look and feel of the real CMA exam. After all, many candidates find that this helps to reduce their stress on exam day because they feel like they’ve already taken the exam before. Taking mock tests can really help you mentally prep for passing the CMA exam.

How to Pick a CMA Course

With so many features that are included with CMA courses, how do you pick the one that’s right for you? Well, I have a few suggestions:

  • First, think about your learning style. That is, do you learn best from watching videos and taking notes? Or do you like to read textbooks and follow-up with flashcards?
  • Second, consider when and where you plan to study. Will an online-only course work for you? Or will you need a mobile app because you’re likely to study on the go?
  • And of course, what’s your budget? Do you need to pick a provider that offers payment plans?

CMA study tips

Most people best learn by interacting with material in multiple ways. That is, if you read material in a textbook, listen to that same content in a lecture, and then follow up with practice questions and flashcards, you’re likely to learn faster. You can further reinforce content by interacting with instructors and tutors. So when searching for a CMA course, think about this 1-2-3 punch of reading, hearing, and discussing material.

Study when it’s best for you

According to the IMA, candidates can spend up to 150-170 hours studying for each part of the CMA exam for a total of about 300 hours. But with your already busy schedule, you might be wondering when you’ll have the time to squeeze in all of this studying.

Therefore, pick a review provider that is going to maximize every minute you spend studying for the CMA Exam. How do they do that? Well, in my experience, the interactive courses with e-learning tools and access to experts when you have questions can be the best ways to make the most of your time.

Plus, think about how much time you have to engage in study activities like watching video lectures. If you know you’ll have to study in short bursts, you could go with a course that has bite-sized videos and learning units. Or, if you know you’ll be studying on the go, look for a course with a mobile app and access to your course materials from any device.

Budget Factors

Of course, your budget will probably play a role in picking a CMA review course. And what’s more, you don’t want to waste your hard-earned money on a course that doesn’t work for you.

But still, don’t immediately blow off a course because you think it’s too expensive. Instead, think of your course as an investment in your future. After all, CMAs tend to make higher salaries than their uncredentialled peers. Therefore, even if your first-pick course is several hundred dollars more than your second-pick, remember that a good course will help you study faster. And we all know the saying that “time is money.”

Plus, if you pick a good course, your chances of passing the exam on your first try will greatly increase. Basically, this means that you could spend less because you’re not wasting money on expensive re-take fees. Even if you go with a budget review course, if it doesn’t adequately prepare you for the exam, you might have to retake the exam several times. And when you factor in the cost of retake fees, you could spend more money in the long run than you would have if you just picked the best CMA course in the first place.

CMA exam prep discount codes

And don’t forget that I have lots of discounts for CMA courses, too. With discounts, you can often save a considerable amount of cash on your CMA review.

To find the codes, just check out my partner site for CMA exam prep discounts.

Why You Should Consider an Online CMA Class

Some CMA review courses now offer live or “live online” courses. Usually, they mimic a classroom-like setting, similar to what you might find in college. However, if you tend to learn a lot from interacting with students and instructors in a class, I recommend finding a course that offers online options. Let me explain why.

Benefits of online classes

  • Online classes offer the most flexibility. After all, between work and personal commitments (and traffic!), it can be hard to make it an in-person class at a specific location. But with online classes, you can participate anywhere, even from your local coffee shop. So you never have an excuse for missing class.
  • Online classes are more manageable. Even if you miss a live online session, the review provider will probably record it and make it available to view later. This way, you can watch it when you have time. Plus, you can pause when you need to take a break or want to look up a definition. What’s more, you can also watch the lecture at your own pace so you can take notes, too. And when you have this sort of flexibility, your eyes are less likely to glaze over and you’ll be able to concentrate on the material longer.
  • Online courses often have better and more consistent quality. Think of it this way: companies that only have in-person classes that are taught at a specific location must then also have instructors for those classes. Basically, it’s hard to control the consistency of the delivery when you’re working with lots of different in-person instructors. But if a company only has online classes, they need a smaller pool of instructors because one expert can teach lots of people online at the same time. And companies can also take the time to really refine their instructors’ delivery and teaching methods, resulting in a higher-quality education for their users.

Comprehensive CMA Review Courses vs. Supplements

As you’re reviewing the websites of different CMA review providers, you’ll notice that some companies have two kinds of offerings:

  • Comprehensive courses that come with lots of tools (textbooks, study notes, flashcards, live or live online classes, video or audio lectures, and personalized mentoring or other support)
  • Supplements, which could just be a company’s CMA textbooks or test bank (collection of practice questions)

How to pick the right learning tools

So which should you choose? After all, you could save a lot of money by just purchasing the textbooks or test bank. But are these supplements alone enough to pass the CMA exam?

In my experience, no.

First, a supplement like a test bank is meant to be just that – a supplement to other study materials. Most candidates fail if they only use practice questions to study. Plus, sometimes providers don’t update their test banks frequently. So there is a chance that you could be practicing outdated material.

3-factor study punch

Additionally, keep in mind that 1-2-3 study punch that I mentioned earlier. You learn best with you read, hear, and discuss the content. And if you only study with a test bank, you’re missing out on a lot of critical learning opportunities that come with a comprehensive course.

And of course, if you only purchase a supplement, you’ll be missing out on the personalized support offered by many of the top courses. So for example, if you only study with a test bank, what happens when you have a question? You won’t have anyone waiting in the wings to help via mentoring or even a user advice forum or question board. Nor do you have textbooks to read or videos to watch to find your answers. So to make studying easier and potentially more enjoyable, I suggest picking a comprehensive CMA review course.

What’s the Best CMA Review Course?

I hope this review of CMA exam prep discounts and courses helps you find study materials that help you pass the exam on your first try. Wiley CMAexcel, Gleim CMA, Hock International, and Surgent CMA are all strong courses. But if I had to pick one course as the “best,” which one would I chose?

Well, I think that Wiley CMAexcel’s courses are some of the best available right now. First, Wiley has been on the market for a long time and has built a strong reputation among CMA candidates. Plus, it’s the only review course that is approved by the IMA. I also appreciate Wiley’s bite-sized videos and short lessons because they work for a lot of busy professionals. The e-learning software focuses your studies and may help you pass the exam with less study time. And of course, the access until you pass guarantee means that you don’t have to worry about having enough time to study for the CMA exam. And although Wiley could include a few more mock exams with its courses, the 11th Hour Final Review could be the final study push you need to get across the CMA exam finish line.

 

 

 

Have You Visited My Other Sites?

I’ve got so many resources for you!

Enrolled Agent

If you’re looking to become an enrolled agent, need an enrolled agent course, or are looking for an enrolled agent course discount, head over to my site all about the enrolled agent exam! You can also save with the Gleim EA discount that provides you with access to the best-selling EA review!

Certified Internal Auditor

Have you always wanted to become a CIA? Then head to my CIA site where you can find information about CIA review courses and CIA review course discounts.

Certified Management Accountant

It’s not as difficult to become a CMA as it is to become a CPA, but you can learn all about the CMA exam on my CMA site. You’ll also love how you can see the best CMA review courses and get the best CMA review discounts.

Certified Public Accountant

Is it time for you to become a CPA? I can help! Here are the best CPA review courses and CPA review discounts to help you save some cash!

Certified Financial Advisor

If you’re searching for how to become a CFA, look no further. While you’re on my CFA site, you can also find the best CFA materials and CFA course discounts.

Certified Information Systems Auditor

You can become CISA certified this year! Learn all about CISA review courses and CISA discounts on my site.

Don’t see something here that you need? Let me know!

 

Average Accounting Salary in the US

There are 1.4 million accountants and auditors in the US, making accountancy one of the biggest and most important professions in the business service sector.

Accounting is generally considered a stable and well paid job. How well paid is that? Let’s take a look at the average accounting salary in the US.

Average Accountant Salary – An Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017, the median accountant salary was $69,350:

US Accountant Salary

2017 Salary

Per hour rate

Median

$69,350

$33.34

Average

$76,730

$36.89

Low end*

$42,140

$20.26

High end*

$120,910

$ $58.13

*Low end salary is the average level for junior, inexperienced accountants. High end is the one for senior and experienced accountants.

For Your Further Reading

 

5 Best Jobs for Former Accountants

In this article, I share insider info on jobs for former public accountants and professionals looking for an accounting career change. After all, many people choose to start with an accounting job because it is stable and pays relatively well. But some are forced into this profession because it’s the only job they can find with an accounting major.

But a few years down the road, with solid accounting experience under your belt, it might be time to revisit your decision. Should you go for a career change from accounting? If so, what would be a great second career?

Regardless, before leaving an accounting career, consider why accountants leave the profession. And then, think about alternative careers for accountants, like how to become an investment banker, entrepreneur jobs, and even Enrolled Agent jobs.

Good Career Change for Former Accountants

At some point in their careers, many public accountants start to consider a career change. So if you’re thinking of leaving public accounting, don’t worry—you’re not alone. In fact, leaving public accounting after 1 year is not uncommon. However, some professionals think that the best time to leave public accounting is after 3 to 6 years. That is, you might be ready after you’ve advanced in your firm but you haven’t yet made manager or become too specialized in a specific niche. Or, you should think about shifting roles if you realize that you don’t eventually want to become a partner in your firm.

If you’re thinking of when to leave public accounting, I recommend starting your career change with a plan for where to go next. You have many choices since accounting skills are often transferable into other positions in the finance and business world. For example, you could consider corporate banking, financial planning, corporate accounting or finance, internal auditing, and other roles. Some former accountants even go to work for the FBI because they must analyze and audit a lot of business and financial records. But in this article, I’m only going to focus on a few specific choices:

  • Investment banker
  • Business analysts and project managers
  • Entrepreneur
  • Enrolled Agent

Investment Banker

I used to work in Morgan Stanley’s Investment Banking division. After all, big commercial banks down to small regional and boutique banks often have investment banking departments. Plus, asset management companies, private equity institutions, and venture capital firms also hire investment bankers.

In our analyst class, we had a few lateral hires, and almost all of them were accountants by training. However, some investment bankers start with a bachelor’s degree in business or finance or even an MBA.

Investment banker requirements

It’s no surprise that bankers find accountants complementary in their working team. Investment banking analysts are often hired based on how they can carry themselves professionally (in front of an interviewer or client), how smart they seem to be, and how likable they are. In other words, their majors and previous training do not always count. For instance, in my department at Morgan Stanley, we had History and English majors, just to give you an example.

All new investment bankers went through a month of training. But still, many of us lacked a solid foundation in accounting. At the same time, financial modeling requires a certain level of accounting knowledge, which often creates an issue for the working team.

As you can imagine, my seniors were thrilled when they saw a candidate coming from a Big 4. Or at least, they were happy with accounting majors with a few years of solid training. Better yet, if new hires had taken the time to pass the CPA Exam, they were gold.

What does an investment banker do?

So just exactly what is an investment banker? Well basically, investment bankers are highly skilled professionals who help people and organizations make investments. When companies, governments, and other organizations need to raise capital, they turn to investment bankers for help. Then, these trained experts examine an entity’s overall fiscal health, fundraising needs, and financial goals. And finally, after analyzing this data and the entity’s projected future, they connect the entity to potential investors.

In addition, investment bankers can find new support for growing ventures by selling investment products like stocks, bonds, and securities. Or, they can facilitate mergers and help take companies public. Therefore, a typical investment banker job description includes financial and statistical analysis and the ability to accurately forecast financial futures.

Moreover, because of their workload, investment banker hours can be long. But still, are investment bankers happy? Well, to be honest, the field can be stressful. However, if you enjoy the work, it can be worth it. After all, the banking environment is diverse, giving you plenty of opportunities to branch out and grow your career.

How much do investment bankers make?

According to payscale.com, the typical investment banker starting salary in the United States is about 55K. However, when factoring in all professionals regardless of the length of employment, an investment banker average salary jumps up to over $101K. And furthermore, at the height of one’s career, an investment banker salary can reach as high as $208K.

Investment banker jobs

If you’re starting a second career in investment banking as a former accountant, please expect that your firm may discount your experience and put you in a first-year class. Therefore, your fellow cohorts may have just graduated from college. I suggest that you look at the longer-term view, though—your solid accounting experience will help you stand out from the crowd. With dedication and hard work, your boss will notice. Plus, you could reap other benefits like a bigger bonus and a faster promotion down the road.

If you’re interested in this career move, check out this insider guide to investment banking.

Business Analysts to Project Managers

Many accountants grow tired of working as bean counters. Fortunately, accountant jobs have evolved into interesting opportunities that require constant interaction with business operations, business development, and strategic planning units.

For example, accountants can transition careers as business analysts. Basically, a business analyst analyzes a company’s current processes and identifies potential areas of improvement. And then, the analyst helps the company create initiatives that will grow business and meet certain goals.

Therefore, business analysts must be good at solving problems, setting new objectives, and streamlining business processes. Plus, they need skills in everything from stakeholder management to data analysis, modeling, and even IT.

Business analysts often have bachelor’s degrees in business or accounting. So if you’re already an accountant, you could have the education you need to get started as a business analyst. If you are interested in this direction, the easiest way is to look for jobs via internal transfer. This is the most efficient way for you to transfer your accounting skills into one that’s more analytical and business-oriented.

Entrepreneur as an Accounting Career

For those who feel like analyzing a company’s business is not exciting enough, you might want to jump straight into creating a business yourself. But what is an entrepreneur? And do you have the skills needed as a former accountant?

First, an entrepreneur is simply someone who starts a business venture but takes on a greater financial risk to do so. So essentially, an entrepreneur takes on a lot of the financial risk of a new company but also reaps most of the rewards if and when it becomes successful. Entrepreneurs are known as innovators, as they find new goods and services to fill a community’s needs.

Second, if you’re wondering if you’d make it as an entrepreneur, consider that accounting requires a very practical set of skills. After all, it helps you understand how money flows in and out of any business. Plus, it also helps you plan and avoid pitfalls if you are leaving public accounting to run a business yourself. So if you are creative and entrepreneurial, launching your own company after your accounting training may be the way to go.

How to become an entrepreneur

Of course, I’m not necessarily suggesting setting up your own CPA firm. However, it is possible if you have 10+ years of experience under your belt. But generally, starting a new firm is a tough road.

Instead, I am talking about creating your own company according to your passions. Essentially, it can be a bakeshop, an online business, or any other new business that fills a need in the market. But the point is that your accounting skills will help you along the way for years to come.

Nevertheless, to pursue a new business as an entrepreneur, you’ll need more than accounting skills. Instead, you should build a diverse skillset and stay current with the market so you can identify problems to solve with your new business. Specifically, skills like time management, networking, sales, and communication will help you bring an entrepreneurial idea to fruition.

Become an Enrolled Agent

Do you want to know the best-kept secret in the accounting circle? There is a profession called theEnrolled Agent that is perfect for accountants interested in tax who have an entrepreneurial mind.

What is an Enrolled Agent?

The Enrolled Agent credential is offered by the IRS. And in fact, it’s the highest designation offered by the IRS. Therefore, Enrolled Agents are tax specialists. Basically, they can assist with any tax issue, including appeals, audits, and collections. Moreover, they prepare and sign tax returns, represent the client at tax audits, assist clients with collections issues, set up installment tax liability, and sign consents to extend the statutory period for assessments. Experienced EAs can even advise clients in IRS tax disputes and appear before the IRS in place of a taxpayer.

Unless you hate tax, you are probably already well-prepared to be an Enrolled Agent as an accountant. And after you receive the credential, you’ll be able to demonstrate your tax abilities, earn more money, and increase your job security.

Even more, with an accounting career as an Enrolled Agent, you can enjoy flexible hours. But unlike Financial Advisors, your job is not linked to the external markets (e.g. the stock market) in which the ups and downs of your performance could be out of your control.

Enrolled Agent positions are great opportunities for stay-at-home parents, retirees, and those who need flexible working hours. At the same time, it is a job that can provide financial freedom. After all, the Enrolled Agent salary is usually higher than that of tax preparers without the credential. In fact, EAs make about 10% more per tax return than their uncredentialled peers.

Enrolled Agent vs a CPA accounting career

Some accountants question whether they should choose the path of an Enrolled Agent vs. a CPA. Or, if you’re looking to leave public accounting, you might wonder how an Enrolled Agent position could vary from what you’re already doing. So, here are the basic differences between an Enrolled Agent and a CPA.

  • Basically, Enrolled Agents have the same tax privileges as CPAs. That is, they both have unlimited representation rights before the IRS.
  • However, EAs only deal with taxation. CPAs, on the other hand, can advise clients in both tax and accounting issues and is, therefore, a more well-rounded credential.
  • EAs often have more technical expertise in taxation than CPAs.
  • The IRS gives EAs the authority to work and represent clients in any state. In contrast, CPAs receive their credentials from state boards of accountancy. Therefore, they can only practice in the state in which they have a license.
  • The IRS does not have any education or experience requirements to obtain the EA certification. However, CPAs need at least a bachelor’s degree, 150 semester hours of higher education, and 1+ years of experience, depending on the state in which they plan to practice.
  • Moreover, most candidates pass the EA exam in less time than the CPA Exam.

How to become an Enrolled Agent for an accounting career

The IRS doesn’t require any specific education or experience to become an Enrolled Agent. Nonetheless, you do have to meet a few other requirements. For example, you must pass the Enrolled Agent exam, which is the SEE (Special Enrollment Examination).

  • First, you should go to the IRS website and create an online account.
  • Next, apply for a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number).
  • With your PTIN, go to your online account and register to take the 3-part SEE.
  • And finally, pass all parts of the SEE within 2 years.

What’s more, once you become an Enrolled Agent, you need to gain continuing education credits every year. Specifically, Enrolled Agents need:

  • 72 hours of continuing education every 3 years
  • 16 of those 72 hours must be gained annually
  • And 2 of the annual 16 hours must be in an approved ethics course

Taking the Enrolled Agent exam

The Special Enrollment Examination has 3 parts: Each section has 100 multiple-choice questions and two essays and lasts for 3 ½ hours.

  • Individuals: Part 1
  • Businesses: Part 2
  • Representation, Practices, and Procedures: Part 3

Note: Candidates who have been working in certain IRS positions for 5+ years don’t even need to take the exam. Instead, they can apply for the Enrolled Agent credential directly from their online IRS account.

Depending on the part and the year taken, the pass rate for the EA exam is about 61-88%. Therefore, it’s important to study with a review course that will greatly increase your chances of passing on the first try. If you need some reviews, check out this article about the best Enrolled Agent study materials from our partner site.

And to learn more about how to become an Enrolled Agent, check out this link.

How to Leave Public Accounting

If you’re thinking of leaving public accounting, I hope this article gives you good ideas about where to go. Just remember that accounting has already given you the skills you need for your next position. Once you’ve made your transition, feel free to leave a comment for other readers!

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