Students and educators around the world are beginning to feel the extraordinary ripple effect of the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic as schools shut down amid the public health emergency.
According to a recent UNESCO report, the COVID-19 outbreak has affected approximately 1.7 billion learners, causing 191 countries to implement nationwide closure. And this begs the question: How will disruptions of this scale impact CPA candidates?
The simple answer is ‘pave the way for online learning.’
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The cancellation of in-person classes has caused learners and educators to transition to online and distance learning. Now more than ever, educators are leveraging the power of technology and digital media to facilitate learning and mentor their students. In this article, we’ll discuss online education for future CPAs and the various resources for distance learning.
Distance Learning & Future Ready CPAs: Actions Lecturers & White Collar Professionals Can Do to Help CPA Candidates
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it necessary for lecturers and white-collar professionals to work remotely and for all to practice social distancing. However, being away from classes or office doesn’t bring the world to a halt.
We are at the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution—an era of accelerated technological progress, and an age where the office environment is slowly becoming a relic. With distance learning on the rise and the future of remote work happening now, how can lecturers, experienced CPAs, and hiring managers help future CPA candidates succeed?
1. By Virtual Tutoring & Hosting Accounting Webinars
Given that lecturers will not be able to physically meet with their students, students may have a hard time comprehending tough topics, like Financial Reporting.
Employed CPAs who need a break from remote work could volunteer to tutor students or host webinars on demanding topics to help students stay ahead on their school work. Lecturers can also register on sites like Wyzant that offer online classes to continue imparting knowledge to aspiring CPAs.
2. Remote Mentoring
Distance learning is known to induce stress in students. Some students may feel academically and emotionally isolated as they become estranged from their fellow students. Others may lose focus as they try to navigate the murky waters of distance learning.
Experienced CPAs and lecturers can help by setting aside 10 to 20 minutes a day to mentor at least one student through the end of the semester. Continuous support and mentoring can help to lift the students’ spirits while steering them down the path to success.
3. Virtual Shadowing
Virtual shadowing refers to on-the-job learning that involves virtually spending time with a student to help them learn from you and know what your typical day looks like.
How about letting a student watch your video conference call as you conduct meetings or reconcile balance sheets and P&L. Doing so can motivate the students and give them practical insights into the skills they need to become successful CPAs.
4. Virtual Internship
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many employees to lose jobs—either temporarily or permanently. But tax and the busy season are not canceled.
Hiring managers and CPAs can tap into the pool of students they have interacted with in the past and provide them virtual internships. This can give students the practical experience they need to better understand their roles as future CPAs.
How to Become a CPA Online: Education Roadmap
In an online environment, courses are held in virtual classrooms, and training is facilitated through live videos. Below are the steps to becoming a CPA online.
Step 1: Get a College Degree
The first step in becoming a CPA is to earn a bachelor’s degree in any accounting field from a regionally accredited college. Most states require at least 150 credits in post secondary accounting coursework, which can be acquired through online degree courses.
However, you can be exempted from this rule and become a CPA without a degree in accounting as Kenneth—a renowned CPA and author explains in this article. According to Kenneth, the CPA credential is regulated by individual states, and not all states require an accounting degree to sit for the exam.
So to pursue the CPA course without a degree, you’d need to sit for the exam in one of the states that don’t require an accounting degree. Currently, only Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maine, and Alaska provide this exemption.
If you’re more into project management, you might want to consider taking a PMP exam. And just like CPA, it’s also possible to pursue PMP without a degree, but you’ll need to compensate with more years of experience. Training to be a good PMP doesn’t come easy but there’s a wealth of PMP study materials available to help you succeed.
Stage 2: Complete Additional Education
After earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting, depending on your state, you may need to take additional credit hours to qualify for the national licensing exam for CPAs.
The additional credit hours can be accomplished in several ways, including completing an online master’s degree in accounting. These programs are available in Masters of Business Administration (MBA), Masters of Science in Accountancy, or Masters of Accountancy. Many online programs offer CPA training and you should ensure the program you’re considering meets your state’s requirements for licensing.
Step 3: Gain Work Experience
The third step is to gain relevant work experience under the watchful eye of a licensed CPA supervisor. Work experience is not required to sit for the CPA exam. However, most states will require at least 1 year of on-the-job experience to issue a license.
Step 4: Take the Uniform CPA Exam
The final step to becoming a CPA is to take and pass the Uniform CPA Exam. The rigorous 4-part exam is administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), and applications can be done through the NASBA’s online application system. The exam is offered 4 times per year at computerized testing centers across the country.
CPA Resources for Successful Distance Learning
Distance learning has its share of challenges, but students can succeed with the right resources. And when it comes to CPA resources for distance learning, there is no better way to kick things off than with a CPA Exam review course.
Sure, CPA review courses are costly but you’ll need them to pass the exam. Studies show students who take CPA Review Courses have a higher pass rate than those who don’t. That said, here are a few CPA review courses that are worth considering:
- Roger CPA Exam Review Course
- Becker CPA Test Exam Preparation Courses
- Gleim CPA Review Courses
“It’s also important to ensure you’re aware of the specific education requirements, restrictions, and grading policy of your state”, says Christine P. Smith—a CPA/MACCT and professor of practice at Tulane University.
Given the challenges of delivering online education in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many state boards have relaxed their grading policies, and knowing whether your state is accepting Pass/Fail credit can help you make informed decisions.