If you enjoy preparing your own taxes or have worked preparing other people’s or corporations taxes, then you may want to consider obtaining your enrolled agent or (EA) certification. While many individuals who obtain their CPA license, go onto obtain their EA certification, the great thing about becoming an enrolled agent, is you do not have to have a CPA license.
As an enrolled agent, you are authorized to represent taxpayers (whether it be individuals or corporations) before the IRS. Not only can you start in a lucrative field, but you have a recession proof occupation and plenty of job prospects once you become certified. Also, unlike traditional tax preparation work, where you may only work a few months out of the year, there is year-round demand for EA’s.
CPA vs Enrolled Agent – What’s The Difference?
You maybe wonder what the difference is between a certified public accountant and an enrolled agent and which type of certification or license is right for you. CPA’s are licensed accountants, who can legally sign an audit report, have extensive accounting or financial experience and generally provide tax or auditing services to corporations or high net worth individuals. In order to become a licensed CPA, you have to meet the individual licensing requirements; have an undergraduate degree and have a number of accounting hours, in addition to passing the CPA exam.
While many CPA’s do end up earning their EA or enrolled agent certification, many individuals who are interested in tax preparation or accounting, overlook or are not aware of enrolled agent certification. So, if you are looking for a fast track way to gain the knowledge and certification you need to represent individuals before the IRS, then you should most definitely consider obtaining your EA certification.
Enrolled Agent Salaries
As an Enrolled Agent you can expect to make between $30,000 to $75,000 a year, based upon your experience and types of clients you represent. Traditionally speaking, EA’s will work for themselves or a tax advising office and generally have a flexible work schedule. Additionally, during the tax seasons EA’s can expect to make additional money, preparing taxes for individuals and corporations and verifying tax documents.
This is a little different than the role of most CPA’s who either will work for an accounting firm or as a full time CFO at a corporation and maintaining their books. Generally speaking CPA’s can earn more money than someone with just a EA certification, however the educational expenses and time commitments are much more extensive for CPA’s.
I am Already A CPA – Should I Get My EA Certification?
This can be a difficult question to answer and it will depend on a number of factors. For instance, is your company or employer paying for your enrolled agent course and exam fee’s? Will the additional certification lead to a promotion or increase in your salary? All these factors are important to consider when thinking about getting your EA certification – that said, many CPA’s do obtain their EA certification, regardless of the costs and time commitments. It most certainly can help boost your resume and make you more attractive to employers and can demonstrate your commitment to the accounting and tax preparation fields.
How To Obtain Your EA Certification
The steps to becoming an enrolled agent are very easy and if you are already a CPA or CFA (certified Financial Adviser), you will find the test and information fairly straight forward. The main steps to obtaining your Enrolled Agent certification are:
- Enroll in a EA exam prep course – this is fairly important and will help you pass the exam on your first try
- Take and pass the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE) – You will get your official score and know if you passed each of the three sections on the day of your examination.
- Pay the fee and submit your certification information to the IRS by mail
- Wait for your certification – they will make sure that you have filed all your tax returns and have no outstanding tax liabilities, successfully passed your certification and are qualified to obtain the certification.
So as you can see, becoming an enrolled agent is a relatively easy process and if you spend the time preparing and using one of the many EA review courses to help you study and prepare for the exam, you should have no problems passing on your first try.
As you can see, obtaining your EA certification can provide lucrative job opportunities and be much easier to obtain than a CPA license. Additionally, while CPA’s are licensed on a state-by-state basis, enrolled agents are able to provide tax preparation and act as an agent for filers across the nation. Overall, while Enrolled Agent’s are less widely known than CPA’s, they provide a valuable service for tax payers and corporations and are highly in demand. Additionally, compared to tax attorneys who often will interact with the IRS, enrolled agents can often perform many of the same services, more affordably than a tax attorney could.