Why a CPA License Matters

By Brandon Vagner, CPA, Ph.D. & Former KPMG Manager

You may have already experienced this.  If you haven’t, then you likely will.  There are going to be people that will tell you a CPA license doesn’t matter and there is no reason to get it.  This couldn’t be further from the truth if you are looking for a successful career in accounting and/or many opportunities as your career matures.

There are gobs and gobs of reasons why a CPA license should matter to you, but this is going to focus on a few of the more important ones.

Getting Hired

If you need to apply for another job for whatever reason it might be, having your CPA license is going to be critical.  Think about this.  Let’s say you get hired straight out of college by a company that ‘thinks’ you are going to be a licensed CPA.  However, you don’t really try for it and 5 years goes by with no CPA license.  You might be able to keep your job at that company because you’ve built relationships and have demonstrated your work ethic to them.  BUT, you can’t exactly put ‘Your Name, high ethics and good worker’ at the top of your resume.  No, your competition is going to have ‘Their Name, CPA’ nice and bold at the top of their resumes.  Who would you give an interview to?  The CPA or the non-CPA?

RELATED: Best CPA Review Courses

Getting Promoted

This one goes along with ‘Getting hired,’ because if you don’t get promoted within a public accounting firm, you are typically coached out of the firm.  They want people to be moving up.  If you get coached out because you don’t have a CPA license, then you’re all of the sudden trying to get hired, and I just talked above about how hard that can be.

Those of you who work in industry don’t have to worry as much about this, BUT there are certainly some companies who want to promote accountants who have their CPA license.  To the managers within those organizations, it tells them that you’re committed and somebody who can accomplish difficult tasks.  You may be sitting just fine right now under the current management, but what happens if a new CFO comes in and he/she only wants CPA’s moving up the ranks.  Things can change in an instant, and you really need the CPA license if you really want job security in the accounting field.  No matter whether you’re reaching for the stars or just trying to maintain a regular accounting position.


Listen, no matter where you work, people know who has their CPA license and who doesn’t.  I’m not debating whether people should or shouldn’t use that to judge others within a work environment, but I am telling you that it happens.  I’ve seen it time and time again.  To avoid any negative judgments toward you at any point in your career, just get the CPA exam knocked out.  I can’t recommend it enough!

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