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T
helessonsIwanttosharewillnot
shorten the route to becoming a
CPA; the fact still stands that it
takes years to get those three letters.
However, I hope to show you that at-
tainingaCPAlicenseisaseriesoflogi-
cal,progressivestepsthatcanbedone
withoutregardtoyourcurrentstationin
life. Don't confuse the use of the terms
"logical" and "progressive" with "easy" ­
it's not easy. But the lessons that I've
learned boil down to six key areas that
I believe will get you those three letters
withaslittlepainaspossible.
Step 1: Get emotionally prepared.
Before you start the logical, progres-
sive part of becoming a CPA, you
need to get emotionally prepared. You
need to accept that you're a nontradi-
tional candidate and your path will not
be the smoothest one! You will have
to pay your dues in every sense of
the term. I can assure you, there will
come a time when you will doubt your
resolve­butpersevere.
Takesolaceinthefactthatyou'reama-
turecandidate.Youknoweveryemploy-
ment opportunity is a blessing (as well
asanobligation),andthateverymoment
spentintheclassroomisanopportunity
toexpandyourknowledgeandmakeyou
more marketable. You know that study-
ing for the CPA exam is a means to an
end. Becoming a CPA will require emo-
tionaldiscipline­mustereveryounceofit
withinyouandyouwillachievethisgoal.
Step 2: Thoroughly understand the
requirements to become a CPA.
Step 2 was actually a prime candidate
forStep1,butemotionaldisciplinedoes
preclude all other steps. Now let me
say this: There is only one way to un-
derstandtherequirementstobecomea
CPAinConnecticut,andthatistoread
them.Don'tdependsolelyonwhatoth-
erssay;getatrueunderstandingofthe
factsforyourself.
How does one gain an understanding
ofthefacts?Iwillsharetheadvicethat
UniversityofNewHavenProfessor
Bob
Wnek gave me about researching tax
issues: "Start with the statute." Read
Chapter 389 of Connecticut's General
Statutes for an overview of how to be-
come a CPA. Read the state's regula-
tions, starting at Section 20-280-21, to
fill in the details that the statutes leave
out. Visit the CPA State Board of Ac-
countancy website at www.sots.ct.gov
and become familiar with its functions.
Remember that the title Certified Pub-
lic Accountant is issued by the state in
whichaCPApractices;itisalegalinstru-
menttopracticeaprofession.Therefore,
if you start from the source of the law,
youcan'tgowrong.
Step 3: Complete your
undergraduate coursework.
Assumingyounowunderstandthestate's
requirements,youshouldbefamiliarwith
the educational component. There are
specificcoursesyouneedtotaketobe
eligibletositfortheexam.Sinceyou're
a nontraditional candidate, I'm going to
assume you can't go to a full-time day
program. Luckily, there are viable alter-
nativestofull-timedayprograms­many
schoolsofferonlineprograms.
Although everyone would love to go
to a school whose name speaks for it-
self,theballgameatthispointisgetting
those credit hours in the areas listed in
Advice from a Nontraditional
CPA Candidate
By Brent Simeon, CTCPA Pledge
I'm 33 years old and my goal of becoming a CPA is clearly
within reach! I feel compelled to share the lessons I've learned
with other nontraditional candidates, so you'll know the goal
of becoming a CPA is attainable.
18
www.ctcpas.org