Veterans: Your Guide to Transition to a Civilian CPA

Transitioning from military service to civilian life can be both exciting and challenging. One of the key aspects of this transition is finding a suitable civilian job that aligns with your skills, experience, and personal goals.

While there are many options out there, one in particular—CPA, is especially appealing to many veterans. Here’s your guide on how to transition to a civilian career as a CPA.


It’s important to assess your skills and qualifications from your time in the military. What skills do you possess that will transition well to a CPA? For example, hard and technical skills transition well into work as a CPA. CPAs are analytical and rely heavily on problem-solving skills. They also tend to work long hours during tax season and depend on a team, all of which are environments and skills that veterans are familiar with.

As a veteran, you’ve proven you can perform under high pressure and, sometimes, under the worst possible conditions. This not only shows adaptability but the ability to thrive in unpredictable, kinetic environments—a competitive advantage in business, especially finance.


You may not realize it, but you do have a network of colleagues, friends, and associates. Networking can be a good way to further explore the CPA profession and how to transition into it. Through conversations and inquiries, you may learn that a certain aspect of your military career translates well to a civilian career.

Look into programs that actively recruit vets, such as Hiring Our Heroes or the Veterans Business Outreach Center. These programs place military members in civilian externships during their last three months of service and offer resume-building support as well as avenues for career discovery and how your skills align with various business areas.


Becoming a CPA does require certification. While many skills are transferable, you may still need college and other requirements. For regular non-service members, requirements vary by state; however, for returning service members—compared to normal non-service members—the qualifications to sit for the exam and apply for licensure are the same. Specific questions should be directed to your state board of accountancy.

In most cases, you must have at least 150 hours of education, including core accounting courses. This usually equates to at least a bachelor’s degree. You will also need to pass all four sections of the CPA exam before applying for licensure. Arguably, the hardest part of this process is passing the exam itself. Considered to be one of the toughest professional exams in the country, it can take up to 18 months and 500 hours of studying to pass all four sections of the exam.

Even if you’re still in the armed forces but are planning for when your tour of duty is completed, you can start a CPA review course now. It’s suggested since there is so much in-depth preparation necessary to pass the exam. 

Though becoming a dedicated member of our armed forces is a challenge that most never dream of, separating from your branch of service and returning home can be a challenge as well. Let PrideStaff Financial help you transition into the next chapter of your life.

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