In order to work many accounting jobs, you might be asked to get your CPA or your Certified Public Accountant certificate. The CPA is a certification that says that you have the necessary training to work as an accountant and that you know the rules and ethics surrounding the accounting industry. Unfortunately, it can be quite a pricey certification to get, so many people wonder if it is worth it.
In this article, we’ll be breaking down the costs associated with getting your CPA and if they really are worth it in the long run. We’ll also be answering some common questions about the CPA. After reading this article, you should have the information you need to start deciding if taking the CPA will be worth it for you.
Is Getting a CPA Worth It?
Getting your CPA, or your Certified Public Accountant certificate, will allow you to practice various jobs that involve accounting. This could mean running your own business or working for a business as an accountant. There are endless possibilities of jobs that you can do with your CPA, and these jobs typically pay pretty well. This means that the cost of taking your CPA will get covered by the pay from your job over time.
All of that being said, getting a CPA is quite expensive, so if you don’t think that accounting is the career choice for you, it may not be worth it for you to invest all your time and money into getting your CPA. Make sure that getting your CPA really is the best choice for you before you start the process.
What are the Fees Involved in the CPA Exam?
There are a lot of fees involved with taking the CPA exam, and we’ll be talking about all of them here. Many of these fees vary by state, so make sure that you look up the specific costs for the state you will be taking the CPA in.
CPA review course fee
Taking a CPA review course is a great way to give yourself the best chance to pass your CPA exam. A good review course can cost anywhere from $1000 to around $3000, so this will be a large portion of the money you spend for your CPA. There are a ton of options out there, from in-person review courses to online review courses, so just take the time to find the right review course for you.
CPA application fee
To apply to take the CPA, you will need to pay the application fee. This is one of the fees that vary by state, so check how much it will be in the state you live in. Generally, the application fee is between $50 and $200, with most application fees being around $100.
CPA exam fees
Since the CPA exam is broken down into four parts, Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG), there are costs associated with taking each section. Although it varies by state, it will cost you around $200 to take one section in most states. This means that it will cost you about $800 to take all four sections.
Most people take all four sections the first time they take the CPA exam, but you can go back and retake sections if you don’t pass them. In this case, you would only need to pay the exam fees for the sections that you are retaking and not the entire four-section fee.
CPA registration fees
There is a registration fee associated with taking each section of the exam, and these fees are tiered, meaning that you get a slight discount if you register for all four at once. The challenge of this is that you have a relatively short amount of time to take all four sections, so many people like to only register for one or two sections and space the exam sections out.
This fee also varies by state, but you can expect registration for all four sections at once to be around $200. If you only register for one section, it will cost you around $60, two sections will cost you around $80, and three sections will cost you around $100. Remember that all of these costs vary by state, so make sure you check with your state.
CPA ethics exam fees
You will also need to take the CPA ethics exam in order to practice accounting and maintain your license. This fee also varies by state, so, again, make sure you check with your state for the exact cost. On average, you can expect to pay between $150 and $200 for the CPA ethics exam.
CPA license fee
Once you pass your CPA, you will need to pay your license fees. Like all the other fees, the license fees vary by state, so check the state that you will be practicing in since that is the state that will bill you for your license. Some states charge as low as $50 for a two-year CPA license, but other states can charge as much as $500 for a two-year CPA license. This can make a huge difference in your overall cost, so it is good to check the licensing fees before you start taking the CPA since you will need to consider these costs when determining if taking the CPA is worth it for you.
The total cost to take the CPA exam and to get your CPA license obviously varies a lot based on the state that you are in, but to take the exam once all the way through and pay for the first two years of your license, and you can expect to pay anywhere from around $3000 to over $5000. Remember that many people have to retake sections of their exams, so you should include an extra few hundred dollars to cover any costs associated with retaking sections. This initial estimate also only includes the first cost of your license fee, and this fee will have to be paid every two years again, so just keep that in mind.
How Many Times Can You Take the CPA Exam?
There is no limit to the number of times you can take the CPA exam, but there is a limit to how many sections of the exam you can take in one testing window. This means that you will have to spread out the sections, but you can take each section as many times as you are willing to pay for. Remember that you will need to pay the exam fees associated with the section and the registration fee for each section you take, both of which vary by state and can run you on average around $260 for both fees for one section.
Most people take the exam a few times or at least retake a few sections. The CPA exam is a challenging exam to pass. The pass rate for the CPA exam varies slightly over time, but it generally hovers right around 50%, meaning that half the people who take the CPA exam will need to retake at least a section of it, so don’t feel bad if you fall into this category. The test is designed to be hard, and since you are allowed to retake it, you totally can.
If you want more information on how to study for the CPA exam, make sure to check out our guide here.
How Much Does It Cost to Retake the CPA Exam?
Most people who take the CPA will need to retake at least some sections, so you should make sure to include some money for retaking the exam when you calculate how much it will cost you overall. In order to retake a section of the exam, you will need to pay the exam fee for that section, so around $200 usually, as well as the registration fee for taking one section, so generally around $60. Depending on when you took your last section, you may need to repay the application fee as well, so it is important to find out how long you have once you are signed up for the test.
Another thing to think about when you are considering the costs associated with retaking sections is the possibility of investing in more review material. Since you didn’t pass the section the first time, it may be worth spending some more money on review materials to give you a better shot at passing the section the second time you take it. This cost can vary greatly and is up to your personal preference and how much money you want to put into it.
How Do You Pay for the CPA Exam?
Since there are so many different types of fees to be paid in order to take your CPA exam, there are a handful of different places that you pay these fees. Fees like your registration fees, application fees, exam fees, and ethics exam fees are paid to the National Association of State Boards of Accounting (NASBA). This is the body that oversees the CPA exam and collects the fees associated with the exam itself.
Your review materials can be purchased from third-party test review organizations or directly from the company that produces the materials. It is totally up to you what review materials you want to use, so you will need to figure out what type of material you want and how much you are willing to pay. These fees are separate from the CPA exam fees.
The other major category of fee that you have to consider is your licensing fees. Your licensing fees are paid to your state board, so paying your licensing fees will be done through the state that you practice in. As we’ve mentioned before, your license lasts for two years, so this is a fee that you will need to pay every two years to keep your license active and allow you to continue working.
Wrapping Things Up: How Much is the CPA Exam
The CPA exam is a costly exam to take, but it can open up various career options for you. If these accounting careers are something that you think is the best career choice for you, the CPA exam may be worth it for you. If you don’t feel that accounting is a career that you want to pursue long-term, the CPA exam may not be worth it for you. It is essential to consider all of the costs associated with the exam and your licensing costs after the exam and determine if it is worth it.
If you’re looking for the best accounting books, check out our post on that here.
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