A CPA license is a professional designation that allows you to practice public accounting in the United States. The CPA exam is administered by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), and is one of the most difficult exams you’ll ever take. That being said, there are non-traditional pathways that can help students meet the requirements they need to earn CPA licensure.
To pass four sections of this test: auditing, business environment and concepts; financial accounting and reporting; regulation; taxation. The test lasts for 16 hours total, with an hour break between each section–but don’t get too comfortable! You only have three hours per section to complete all questions on your exam booklet before time runs out! While this is challenging, the opportunities for employment in accounting are encouraging, partly because of the pipeline problem.
The pipeline problem refers to the fact that there aren’t enough CPAs graduating from college each year to meet demand in our economy or fill open positions at firms across America–and this has been true since 2012 when unemployment rates began falling after years of recessionary levels during 2008-2010 period known as Great Recession era where many people lost jobs due lack confidence among consumers who stopped buying goods/services which resulted into huge losses for businesses leading them into bankruptcy court where judges would decide whether companies could stay afloat or not based upon whether creditors agreed terms proposed by debtor attorneys who represented debtors’ interests against those who held claims against them (i..e., banks).

Overview of the CPA License

The CPA license is a professional certification that requires candidates to pass the Uniform CPA Examination, complete 150 semester hours of college coursework and earn at least 24 months of relevant experience. The main benefit of having this designation is that CPAs are held to higher standards than non-CPA accountants when it comes to reporting financial information, ensuring compliance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), auditing companies and providing tax advice. And they get paid more.

In addition to requiring more education than other accounting certifications, obtaining your CPA license will also require you to pass an exam administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). This exam consists of four sections: Auditing & Attestation; Financial Accounting & Reporting; Regulation; Business Environment & Concepts

The Pipeline Problem

The pipeline problem refers to the fact that, for many years, there has been a shortage of applicants for CPA licenses. As a result, many states have had difficulty meeting their own requirements for new CPAs and have had to resort to offering incentives like reciprocity agreements or reduced fees in order to attract candidates from other states.
The accounting profession as a whole has suffered as well because it has not been able to fill entry-level positions with qualified candidates who could then move up through the ranks over time. This lack of talent at all levels means that firms are having trouble finding staff members who are ready and willing to take on more responsibilities within their organizations–and this can lead directly back down again onto you as an employer!

Alternative Education Options

The first step to becoming a CPA is getting your degree. There are many options for obtaining a bachelor’s degree, but if you’re looking for something more specific and focused on accounting, there are also many alternative education options available.

  • Online CPA programs: These programs allow students to complete their coursework from home or anywhere with Internet access. They’re great for those who need flexibility because they can be taken part-time and at times that work best with your schedule. Some people may find it difficult to keep up with the workload while working full-time or raising children; therefore online programs that offer regionally accredited college courses that are self-paced (and affordable) through an online platform like may be a good idea.
  • Accelerated CPA Programs: These accelerated programs allow students who already have an undergraduate degree in another field (such as business) to earn both their undergraduate and master’s degrees within three years instead of four–and sometimes even less! This allows them more time later down the road when applying for jobs or internships since they won’t have any gaps between graduating college and starting their career path as an accountant

Pros and Cons of Alternative Education Options

Alternative education options are not right for everyone. For those who can make the commitment, however, they can be a great way to get your foot in the door and start your career as a professional accountant.
Here are some pros and cons to consider:

  • Flexibility: Alternative education programs offer flexible scheduling so that you can work full-time while earning your degree. This is especially important if you have family obligations or other responsibilities that prevent you from attending classes on campus full time.
  • Cost: Traditional programs often cost thousands of dollars per semester; at many alternative schools, tuition will be less than half of what traditional universities charge. You’ll also save money by not having to pay for housing or meal plans (unless required).
  • Time commitment: Many students find themselves overwhelmed by all they need to do during their first year at college–from adjusting academically and socially; getting involved with extracurricular activities; finding internships; working part-time jobs…the list goes on! If this sounds familiar, consider looking into an online program where there are fewer distractions so you can focus solely on studying accounting principles instead of worrying about fitting everything else into your schedule too!

Benefits of Alternative Education Options

Alternative education options are beneficial to the accounting profession because they increase accessibility to the CPA license and diversity in the accounting profession. Additionally, these programs provide opportunities for career advancement that may not be available through traditional education methods. Further, their courses may be more affordable than traditional college courses.

Challenges of Alternative Education Options

The biggest challenge is time. It takes a lot of work to complete an online program and many students find themselves taking on a second job or working more hours than they would like. This can cause stress, which can be detrimental to your health and well-being.
Another challenge is cost: while some programs offer financial aid or scholarships, many do not–and even those that do may require you to take out loans with high interest rates that could add up quickly if you don’t finish in four years (which most people don’t). In addition, some programs require students who live outside their state where they are licensed as CPAs (e.g., California) but have taken courses online through an institution located elsewhere (e.g., Arizona State University), must complete additional requirements before being eligible for licensure as CPAs in California.


As we’ve seen, there is a clear need for alternative education options that allow students to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to pass the CPA exam. These programs can help address the pipeline problem by providing an efficient way for students to earn their licenses without having to go through traditional four-year programs.
The growing popularity of these types of programs shows that there’s a demand for them in today’s market, but there are still some hurdles that need to be overcome before they become mainstream options:

  • Some cost–alternative education providers have higher tuition costs than traditional schools because they don’t receive government funding like public universities do; however, they make up this difference by offering smaller class sizes and more personalized attention from instructors (which may also make up for any lost revenue). This makes it difficult for people who don’t have access or resources available right away at home after high school graduation (e.g., military veterans) since many cannot afford this type of investment right away either financially or emotionally due -to other commitments such as family responsibilities etcetera..



  • The importance of alternative education options for the CPA license
  • The potential of alternative education options to address the pipeline problem