Supporting Staff in Obtaining and Maintaining Their CPA

by James E. Rowen, CPA, Citrin Cooperman – December 3, 2018
Supporting Staff in Obtaining and Maintaining Their CPA

Becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) is one of many big moments in a professional accountant’s career. It takes a lot of time and energy in preparation to sit for the CPA Exam. Usually studying for the CPA Exam coincides with working a full-time job during the week, and working nights and weekends during busy seasons throughout the year. So, it is very important to manage your time well to achieve the goal of passing the CPA Exam. But once you pass the exam, your education does not stop there. All states require CPAs to continue their education on a formal basis. Accounting firms can play an instrumental role in helping obtain and maintain a CPA’s license.

It’s important to work with staff to assist them in achieving their goal of becoming a CPA.Management should openly discuss a staff member’s study plan and check to see how he or she is progressing throughout the process. Management should be available to help staff members work through any questions or case studies they may have while studying for the Exam. Taking the Exam can be grueling, but following these pointers can help staff understand the firm is supporting them and wants them to succeed. Fellow employees who have gone through the process, state that the biggest key was management boosting their self-esteem and emphasizing the importance of completing all sections in a timely manner. Along with moral support, the firm should provide financial support with reimbursing staff for course material and giving a bonus after the Exam has been completed.

Once a staff member has passed the CPA Exam, the journey does not stop there. The next step in the process is a lifelong process of learning — better known as continuing professional education or CPE. CPAs must complete continuing education courses each year to receive CPE credits to keep their CPA license active. CPE credits are determined by the hours of the course. The accounting and tax world is always changing, and we want to make sure that people stay ahead of the curve. CPE courses are directed towards topics that staff can apply to the current engagements assigned.

Firms should provide detailed course selection by staff members, if necessary, and track all the CPE courses taken by employees to ensure that all are necessary and meet CPE requirements to maintain their license. A major benefit that firms can provide is to support staff getting their CPE since the financial burden of paying for all the course materials and seminars is high. Obtaining and maintaining one’s CPA is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be done alone. One’s firm and management are crucial to assisting with completing the CPA Exam, making CPE courses available, and providing financial support. These three key factors provide huge relief while going through the process to become a successful CPA.


James E. Rowen

James Rowen, CPA, is a director at Citriin Cooperman.