The Pros and Cons of a Career as a CPA


Are you on the fence about becoming a CPA?  Pursuing this certification can grant you many opportunities and a lucrative salary.  However, you may be wondering about what the disadvantages are as well.  Any career has its pros and cons, and below are some you may encounter on this path.


  • High Salary.  There is no doubt that one of the biggest draws for people to become accountants is the high salary potential.  The median salary of accountants is typically about $67,000, but it is not uncommon for those who want more to gain into the triple digits with time and experience.
  • Direct Education to Career Goal.  Unlike your other friends who may flounder about after college, you will be well on your way.  Liberal arts majors gain a lot of useful skills, but they are not necessarily skills that take them from Point A to Point B.  Accountants, instead, learn a technical and applicable skill.  They can execute a system based on the techniques they have learned.  This is not the case with many other majors.
  • Potential for Growth.  Accountants are always in demand.  In fact, the demand is only growing.  The IRS is raising the number of times a person gets audited in his or her lifetime, which means more people need tax consultations and assistance.  You will also have the opportunity to advance in your job.  If you would like to take on more responsibility and leadership roles in the future, that option is certainly available to you.  Your efforts at taking initiative and presenting relevant information will not go unnoticed.
  • Flexibility.  Not all accountants are chained to a desk.  You may be surprised to know that you are afforded the opportunity to work in many settings with different schedules.  If you want more freedom to travel or stay home with your kids, you can work independently with individual clients.  As a CPA, you have the option to work in a seasonal position, where the intensity of work comes and goes with tax season.  On the other hand, you may be interested in a nine-to-five job, and working within a business or corporation can will allow for that as well.


  • High Stress.  Accounting is known to be a high-pressure job.  Taking care of someone’s money is an important job, and it can bring about high-anxiety and clinical perfectionism.  If you make a critical mistake in a high profile job, you can experience depression and suffer from PTSD.  This is not true for everyone, of course, but it is a job that requires acute attention to detail, and if you make a mistake, it can cost you and your employer their jobs.  This is why some people get burnt out and end up changing their career path.
  • Boring.  Boring is all about perspective.  Many accountants are well aware that people see their jobs as tedious and uninteresting.  There are also plenty of accountants who agree.  However, it does not have to be.  Many accountants find their job stimulating because they have diversified their experience and gained more education.  In addition, accountants often find that their high salary is worth the payoff of an otherwise monotonous career.
  • CPA Exam.  Getting the distinguished profile of a CPA will open many doors into careers that would otherwise not be available to you.  However, you must first overcome the obstacle of passing the infamous CPA exam.  The exam comes in four parts, and each covers a different subject.  As soon as you take the first portion, the clock begins and you must pass all other portions by the eighteen-month mark.  Only about half of all candidates pass the entire exam, and many study for hundreds of hours, only to fail the first time around.
    However, this doesn’t mean the attempt isn’t worth it.  Many pass after taking the exam more than once, but continuing your studies will only increase your chances time after time.  Luckily, there are many resources at your disposal to learn how to overcome cpa failure.

The career path to the title of CPA isn’t easy, but it can be more than worth the effort. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of this career choice and decide if it’s right for you.