The Value of Becoming a CPA and the Struggles to Get There

by Dianna L. Gilluly, Holman Frenia Allison P.C.  – November 1, 2017
The Value of Becoming a CPA and the Struggles to Get There

When someone chooses to pursue a career in accounting, their end goal should be to become a CPA. The benefits are immea­surable. Corporations in every industry, nonprofit organizations, public accounting firms and governments worldwide look to CPAs to meet their needs. Firms are now looking for junior accountants with CPA status or newly graduated accounting students who are studying for the exam and possibly have passed some sections. Having a CPA license can provide you with the following benefits: 

Respect and Credibility

When some­one finds out you are a CPA, they look at you in a better light. The profession is held in high esteem and respected in other business fields. Ever since the financial crisis, there has been particular emphasis on corporate accountability, and organizations rely on CPAs for the financial health and integrity of their companies. Additionally, it often is easier for CPAs to get business loans, negotiate contracts and get referrals from others. For those who open their own account­ing firm, having a CPA license lends credibility and shows people you have the knowledge to help them with their financial and accounting problems.

Earning Potential

Salaries for CPAs have averaged about 10-percent higher than salaries for non-CPA accountants who have the same or comparable responsibilities. The high demand for CPAs leaves plenty of room for excellent compensation. The employ­ment stability and the opportunity for professional growth assures that there will be long-term earning potential for those with a CPA license.

Overcoming the Obstacles

Anyone who has obtained their CPA li­cense or is in the process of taking the CPA exam knows the difficulty of the testing process. There is a significant investment both in money and time, but those who have completed their journey have said it is well worth it. 

There are four parts to the CPA exam requiring hundreds of hours of exhausting preparation. A candidate can take live or online classes, and there are many compa­nies that offer review courses. The registra­tion process is specific, and the exam fees can be expensive. Essentially, your life gets put on hold for a while if you are serious about passing. Once the first part is passed, the clock starts ticking. Candidates must pass all four parts within 18 months of the date the first part is passed.Disappointment can come when, after putting in all that time and money, you don’t pass a part on the first or even second try. As discouraging as that may be, do not give up. Each time you have to go back and review the material you gain more knowledge, and eventually you will pass all four parts. The elation you will feel will be worth all the hard work and investment. Your reward for all that time and money will be the designation of CPA after your name, job security — and possibly a big pay raise! 

Help is Available 

If you need help in learning the process to become a CPA, the first place to visit is the NJCPA website at njcpa.org/becomeacpa. It explains the education requirements, ex­perience requirements, forms for licensure and has answers to many of your questions. The website also has the registration pack­age and application for approval in order for you to sit for the exam.

Most review courses are expensive. The NJCPA has a list of courses, comparing what they provide and the fee for each course. When you become a Student or CPA Candidate member of the NJCPA, you can also take advantage of discounts on some of the programs. 

Studying for and passing the CPA exam will undoubtedly help you in establishing a prominent, lucrative career. 


Dianna L. Gilluly

Dianna L. Gilluly is a senior tax accountant with Holman Frenia Allison P.C. She is a CPA Candidate member of the NJCPA and can be reached at dgilluly@hfacpas.com.

This article appeared in the November/December 2017 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.