Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) - Check 6 Steps

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) - Check 6 Steps 

published on
Jul 2, 2024
4 Min REad
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Are you a fresh graduate or a young professional looking for a rewarding career path in the finance industry? If so, becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) could be the perfect choice for you. 

With an increasing demand for skilled financial professionals in India, pursuing a career as a CPA can open up numerous opportunities and provide a stable and lucrative income.

This article will provide valuable insights and helpful takeaways to support your journey towards becoming a successful CPA in India. And remember, WIZR is here to assist you every step of the way with our expert guidance on upskilling and certification programmes tailored to your aspirations.


Understanding the Role of the CPA

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a professional accountant who has met specific requirements and passed the CPA exam. As a CPA, you play a crucial role in ensuring the accuracy and integrity of financial statements and records.

CPAs are responsible for preparing and analysing financial documents, providing tax advice, conducting audits, and assisting with financial planning.


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Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to become a CPA in India, you must have completed a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. Additionally, you need to have completed a certain number of accounting credit hours and possess relevant work experience. Being detail-oriented, analytical, and having strong communication skills are key attributes for success as a CPA.


Step 1: Choosing an Education Pathway

To be eligible for the CPA exam in India, you have multiple education pathways to choose from: 

1. Bachelor's degree in accounting or related field: This pathway typically takes three years to complete. It provides a solid foundation in accounting principles and prepares you for entry-level accounting roles.

2. Master's degree in accounting: Pursuing a two-year master's degree in accounting allows you to delve deeper into advanced accounting topics, enhancing your knowledge and skills.

3. Postgraduate diploma in accounting: If you already hold a bachelor's degree in a non-accounting field, a postgraduate diploma can help you meet the educational requirements for the CPA exam. These programmes typically take one year to complete.


Step 2: Choose a Specialisation

Forensic accounting: In this specialisation, CPAs investigate financial crimes and fraudulent activities. They analyse financial records, gather evidence, and provide expert testimony in legal proceedings. 

Management accounting: CPAs specialising in management accounting help organisations make informed business decisions by providing financial insights and analysis. They play a crucial role in budgeting, cost management, and performance evaluation.

Taxation: CPAs specialising in taxation assist individuals and businesses with tax planning, compliance, and filing tax returns. They stay updated with changing tax laws and regulations to ensure their clients optimise their tax obligations.

Step 3: Take the CPA Exam

The CPA exam is a rigorous four-part examination that assesses your knowledge and skills as an accountant. The four sections of the exam are: 

1. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): This section tests your understanding of financial accounting principles, reporting standards, and business transactions.

2. Auditing and Attestation (AUD): The AUD section assesses your knowledge of auditing procedures, ethical standards, and compliance requirements. 

3. Regulation (REG): REG focuses on tax laws, business law, professional ethics, and federal regulations related to business transactions.

4. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): BEC covers topics such as corporate governance, economics, information technology, business structures, and strategic planning.

To be eligible for the CPA exam in India, you need to have completed specific educational qualifications, met age requirements (typically 18 years or older), and fulfilled work experience criteria set by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).

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Step 4: Explore Career Opportunities

Becoming a CPA opens up various career opportunities in India. CPAs can work in public accounting firms, corporate accounting departments, government agencies, or non-profits, or even choose to be self-employed or work as freelancers.

  1. In public accounting firms such as the Big Four (Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG), CPAs provide auditing services to clients. They may also offer financial consulting services and assist with tax planning.
  2. In corporate accounting departments, CPAs are responsible for managing the company's financial records and ensuring compliance with regulations. They may also provide strategic financial advice to senior management.
  3. Government agencies or non-profits often hire CPAs to handle their financial operations. This includes budgeting, grant management, and ensuring proper utilisation of funds.
  4. If you prefer more flexibility and autonomy in your work arrangements, you can choose to be self-employed or work as a freelancer, offering accounting services to individuals or businesses.

Salaries of CPAs

The earning potential for CPAs is highly dependent on factors such as experience level, job role, industry sector, and location. On average, CPAs in India can expect to earn between ₹5 and 10 lakhs per annum, with the potential for higher salaries as they gain more experience and expertise.

Step 5: Boost your CPA Career with Professional Certifications

Professional certifications enhance your expertise within specific areas of accounting and can lead to better career prospects and higher earning potential. They also demonstrate your commitment to professional development.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): This globally recognised certification focuses on investment analysis and portfolio management. It is highly regarded in the finance industry. 

Certified Management Accountant (CMA): The CMA certification is ideal for CPAs interested in management accounting. It covers topics such as financial planning, budgeting, cost management, performance evaluation, and risk management.

Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE): CPAs looking to specialise in forensic accounting can benefit from obtaining the CFE certification. It equips professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to detect and prevent fraud.

Step 6: Upskill To Upscale

To maintain your CPA licence, you need to upskill and continue your education requirements. These requirements vary by jurisdiction but typically involve completing a certain number of hours of continuing professional education (CPE) each year.

Here are a few upskilling options for CPAs:

  1. Webinars and online courses
  2. Professional conferences
  3. Industry-specific workshops

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Be Part of a Thriving Industry

The accounting industry in India is experiencing steady growth. As businesses expand and regulations become more stringent, the demand for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) continues to rise.

Consider WIZR as your guide to finding the right education pathway and upskilling programmes to help you achieve your CPA dream.



1. How is a CPA different from a CA?

A CPA is an internationally recognised qualification primarily focused on US GAAP and US tax laws, while CA is an Indian designation based on Indian accounting standards and regulations.

2. How long does it take to become a CPA?

On average, it takes about 2–4 years to meet the educational requirements and pass the CPA exam. 

3. Is the CPA exam difficult?

Yes, the CPA exam is considered challenging due to its comprehensive nature. However, with proper preparation and dedication, many aspirants successfully pass the exam each year.

4. Do CPAs work only with financial consulting firms?

CPAs can work in public accounting firms, corporate finance departments, government agencies, non-profit organisations, or even establish their own practice.

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