When it comes to pursuing a career in accounting, students adhere to the American Institute of CPAs’ “Three E’s:” education, examination and experience. As they near graduation, students begin to prepare for certification exams and look for internship opportunities that will ready them for the professional world. This page provides licensing and internship resources, definitions for common accounting terms and links to organizations that can lead to additional information.
While the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the nationally-recognized Uniform CPA Examination authority, this organization does not grant licensure. It is the responsibility of the individual U.S. state and territory accountancy boards to license qualifying applicants. CPA candidates must complete the licensure requirements in their state of preferred residence and employment. Below we have outlined the three major steps an aspiring accountant must take in their journey toward professional licensure: education, examination and experience.
INTERNSHIPS FOR ACCOUNTING STUDENTS
Many colleges and universities include internship experience requirements within their plans of study and often forge partnerships with local companies to accept undergraduate interns. Students may also seek out their own preferred internship site and consult with their program coordinator to gain approval.
Consider these points while searching for internships:
- Can your work in this environment be applied to your educational and experience requirements for CPA licensure?
- Will you get to apply the theories you’ve learned by performing relevant tasks in this accounting setting?
- Will you gain exposure to relevant business technologies in the field of accounting?
- What types of networking opportunities will you have access to as an intern for this organization/company?
One of the best ways to gain work experience, which is needed for CPA licensure and many full-time job applications, is to become an intern. Whether paid or unpaid, interning with an accounting firm or under a CPA in a business setting allows students and recent graduates the opportunity to put what they’ve learned into practice. The following are links to websites with job boards dedicated to accounting internships.
THE BIG FOUR
Future CPAs may see or hear references to “The Big Four” while searching for internships. It’s no surprise; the Big Four are the biggest and most widely-known global auditing firms. According to Quartz, “Globally, the Big Four collect two-thirds of the accounting industry’s $165 billion in annual fees.” Due to their widespread prevalence among Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, prospective CPAs can find a wealth of internship opportunities at the Big Four.
- PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC):Interns shadow current PwC employees to observe their workday, attend professional networking events and occasionally travel to international sites to perform community services as financial educators. The internship lasts for one semester. PwC pays for interns’ travel, housing and visa expenses.
- Deloitte LLP:Deloitte internships are comprised of three main concentrations: direct work with clients, participation in the National Intern Conference and collaborative work with a mentorship team. Internships can last anywhere between 8 weeks to a full semester.
- Ernst & Young (EY):The EY internship experience teaches accounting students what it takes to work for a top accounting firm. Interns are given responsibilities similar to those given to first year graduates, and they learn to work together on teams to complete client projects.
- KPMG:Prospective interns are encouraged to drive their own experience with the Build Your Own Internship Program (BYOIP), allowing students to choose from advisory, tax or auditing interactions with clients.
The following is a list of terms commonly found in accounting and business. While the list is not an exhaustive representation of every word and phrase accountants come across, we’ve included it with our resources to give you an idea of what you’ll be working with.
- ACCRUALS: Funds to be received and accumulated over a period of time
- BALANCE SHEET: A document that records business equity, assets and liabilities
- CREDIT: Recorded on the right column of accounts; sum received
- DEBIT: Recorded on the left column of accounts; amount owed
- EQUITY: Also known as “capital”; the value of a company’s assets
- GROSS PAY: Total wages earned by an employee before taxes and other deductions are applied
- INCOME STATEMENT: A document detailing a company’s financial performance; break even, gain or loss
- INTANGIBLE ASSET: Non-physical assets, such as copyrights or trademarks
- LIQUIDITY: The accessibility of turning an asset into cash
- MARK-ON: The profit margin
- MARKET PRICE: How much a business pays for a product
- NOTE PAYABLE: Also called a “promissory note”; an assurance in writing that an amount will be paid on a certain date
- PARTNERSHIP: A group of two or more business co-owners
- UNREALIZED GAINS: Gains that have yet to be cashed in
- WAGES PAYABLE: Earned wages that have yet to be received by an employee
- International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS):The IFRS Foundation is one of the organizing bodies working to create an international accounting standard. Professionals can engage with their industry on an international level by contributing feedback on the worldwide financial reporting standards developed by IFRS. Subscribers can take advantage of the newest standards and supporting documents for £295 each year. Those who want both online and print access may subscribe for £571 a year.
- International Accounting Standards Board (IASB):This is a 14-person, independent department within the IFRS that works with the global business community to develop accounting standards. You can register online to attend public meetings for free or download audio recordings of past meetings.
- The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB):This organization oversees financial standards for private sector business. The public is invited to register for and attend public meetings in-person or through live web conferences.
- National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA):This organization serves as a centralized resource on the 55 different U.S. state and territory accountancy boards. NASBA members gain access to perks like Uniform CPA Exam study materials, a CPA candidate database, an accountancy licensing library and many other resources. These services come at varying price points.
STATE BOARDS OF ACCOUNTANCY
The following includes links to boards of accountancy in U.S. states and select territories. Prospective CPAs should carefully follow their state board instructions from day one, since these offices set the education, experience and examination terms unique to your locality. Each board has its own fees for services like initial licensure, score certification, license renewal and CPA firm registration.