All accounting majors know about Certified Public Accountants. Through school, through an accounting club, and in all our classes much of the focus is becoming a CPA after graduation.
You already know the long, competitive road you must travel to get there. Not only do you have to work for a firm for two years, you still have to pass the exam in order to have any chance at good income and a future.
What's your option?
So, I'm going to tell you about the best kept secret in accounting -- the Enrolled Agent. EAs are very special tax professionals. We get our license from the U.S. Treasury Department. So, unlike CPAs, we can practice nationally, without re-certifying or re-testing state-by-state. Like CPAs and attorneys, we are governed by U.S. Treasury Department Circular 230, the ethical bible of tax representation.
Recently, through the efforts of Enrolled Agents throughout the country, we obtained permission for accountants to be able to keep their EA status when they became CPAs. Due to the national representation capability, many CPAs are becoming EAs. (In fact, after a seminar I just held, I got a 'thank you' from someone at KPMG saying that she was inspired to take the EA exam this fall.)
What do EAs do?
How can you become an EA?
All you have to is pass a really intense, two-day exam offered each fall by the IRS. No sweat. Pass the test and you're certified. No degree necessary. Even college students can become Enrolled Agents.
First file an application to take the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE). Select Form 2587 from the forms at www.irs.ustreas.gov/prod/forms_pubs/forms.html.
Oh, the exam? Actually, it's not a piece of cake. There are four parts, over two days. They cover: individuals, sole proprietorships and partnerships, corporations, fiduciaries, estate and gift tax and trust ethics, record-keeping, procedures, appeal procedures, and exempt organizations.
It is offered only once each year. This is the time to get the application, order the materials in the booklet and start studying.
Jim Bank's FasTax study disk Jim put together an excellent study tool in his disk. It covers about 5 years worth of exams, with a testing feature to help you gauge your progress.
Now do you understand why the CPA community doesn't want you to know about this career option? If you pass the exam, you'll be able to start earning a decent living while you're still in college. In fact, by the time you graduate, you could have a sizable tax practice of your own. Then, you'll be in a better bargaining position come recruiting time. In fact, you may decide to skip that route altogether - and become your town's expert in taxation.
(Note, some of my best friends are CPAs)