In this career, your responsibilities may include:
- Working within a company or organization.
- Recording and analyzing the organization’s financial information for the purpose of informing the company leadership’s decision making.
In your job search, you may find job listings for this career under different titles. You can find some examples of these, as well as more information about this career, here.
Typically requires a bachelor’s degree, although pursuing CPA licensure requires a master’s degree. Obtaining a higher degree can make you eligible for careers with greater responsibility and higher salaries in this career pathway if you do not already have the U.S. equivalent of a higher degree. Your existing education might give you advanced standing or transfer credit towards a higher degree, reducing the time it would take you to graduate.
Certification is not required. See “Licensure” below for information on the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation, as it is actually licensure and regulated at the state level despite using the word “certified” in its title.
Post-licensure certifications are a way to show that you have achieved a high level of accomplishment within an accounting specialization. Obtaining one of these certifications could make employers more likely to hire you or offer you a higher salary. If you already have a CPA license, you may be eligible for a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential from the Institute of Management Accountants.
Licensure is not required to work as a Corporate or Management Accountant, but becoming licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) will offer you far more employment prospects, as well as a higher salary.
In the U.S., each state and territory is responsible for the licensure of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) within that jurisdiction, so CPA licensing requirements vary by state. For state-specific licensure information, contact your local Board of Accountancy.
While the specific requirements vary by location, becoming licensed as a CPA in the U.S. typically requires that you:
- Obtain a credential evaluation, which compares the accounting education you received outside the United States to a similar educational program in the U.S. If your degree is not found to be substantially equivalent to the same degree from a U.S. educational institution, you may have to take some additional courses to bring your degree up to equivalency and begin the licensure process. For more information, see Having Your International Education Recognized.
- Your state licensing board may require that you obtain your credential evaluation from a preferred provider. In the accounting field, the preferred credential evaluation service is usually the NASBA International Evaluation Services (NIES) offered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), specifically for internationally educated accountants. NIES is the ONLY approved evaluation service for 25 U.S. jurisdictions, although they do not perform evaluations for New York licensure.
- Before requesting a credential evaluation from any agency, contact the institution that needs the evaluation to understand their requirements. These institutions are responsible for the final recognition decision.
- Make sure you have fulfilled the education requirement for licensure. All U.S. jurisdictions except the U.S. Virgin Islands now require that CPA candidates have completed 150 semester hours of education. Because most bachelor’s degrees only require 120 semester hours (or “credits”) for graduation, a regular 4-year bachelor’s degree alone does not meet the education requirement for CPA licensure. If your existing education does not already meet this requirement, you have several options for doing so, depending on the results of your credential evaluation:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree if you do not already have the U.S. equivalent of a bachelor’s degree, and then take enough additional graduate level courses to meet the requirement.
- Graduate from a five-year combined bachelor’s/master’s degree professional accounting program.
- Earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. This is the most popular option.
- There are several different options for accounting students who wish to pursue a master’s degree. The Master of Accountancy (MAcc) and Master of Science in Accounting (MS) programs are designed for students who have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a similar field; while the Master of Business Administration in Accounting (MBA) and Master of Professional Accounting (MPAc) programs are open to students who have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline.
- Many people choose to pursue an MBA not just because it prepares you for the CPA exam, but also because it will afford you more career flexibility and a better salary throughout your career.
- Pass the CPA exam.
- OR, if you hold a current accounting license in a jurisdiction covered by a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), you may be eligible for a simpler path to licensure. See Mutual Recognition Agreement info below.
Mutual Recognition Agreement
A Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) is an agreement between two or more countries to accept the educational or professional credentials granted in each other’s countries. This means that if you graduated with a specific degree or earned certain professional qualifications in a country covered under an MRA, your credentials may be automatically recognized here in the US. Several professions in the US participate in MRAs, including accounting, architecture, and engineering. MRAs are not legally binding, and some states may choose not to recognize credentials covered under an MRA.
The NASBA/AICPA International Qualifications Appraisal Board (IQAB) currently has MRAs with eight international jurisdictions. Under these MRAs, accountants who are licensed in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Scotland, or South Africa may be eligible to take the International Qualification Examination (IQEX) as an alternative path to CPA licensure. The IQEX is a much shorter and simpler exam than the full CPA exam, and is based on Regulation (REG) section of the CPA exam.
If your credential may be covered under an MRA, always check with your state licensing board to be sure that they accept the agreement.