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Foreign Residents in Japan Can Now Become U.S. CPAs

Today’s accounting profession is more about having the ability to see the bigger picture of a modern business.

By 3 min read 1

Few turn positively giddy when pondering the ins and outs of bookkeeping, audits or tax-preparation. And there is that common stereotype of the number crunching, bowtie-wearing pencil neck, which is mostly a sad misrepresentation.

The fact is most people are quite ignorant of what accountants and, in particular, Certified Public Accountants (CPA) actually do. As a result, the term “CPA” can have the unfortunate effect of steering away potential candidates from a career that could be highly satisfying and potentially quite intriguing and rewarding as well.

The professional life of a CPA has evolved from the staid stereotypes of the past. No longer is there the overarching need for one who can crunch numbers like a machine because, indeed, machines (computers) now do that work. Today’s accounting profession is more about interpretation (as opposed to generating loads of formless information) and having the ability to see the bigger picture, all of which is far more important to modern businesses.

These days CPAs are finding themselves working in untraditional and often surprising areas that transcend the accounting and auditing functions of this old stereotype. Many CPAs now enjoy the variety of other finance-related endeavors, like mergers and acquisitions, sustainability reporting and even forensics. CPAs are even increasingly taking on upper-level positions at major companies with branches in foreign countries and being venerated with rock star status.

Few could successfully argue that being a CPA is “boring” or “unglamorous” when considering this new paradigm!

If you find yourself in Japan contemplating your next move, you now have options and surprising opportunities. Empowered by a CPA certification you can work for multi-nationals in Japan or go back to your home country fully prepared to meet the needs of contemporary businesses. A U.S. CPA is a global certification and a key to freedom of choice and untold potential!

In America alone, (and quite unlike other professions), the unemployment rate for accountants hovers at an astoundingly low 4.1 percent What does this all mean? For starters a U.S. CPA certification has become a highly valuable commodity and even a global brand. It is recognized as a requirement for most accounting and finance jobs in Japan, so earning this credential is almost a no-brainer. Even if you might still be in that phase of footloose and fancy-free experimentation with a life abroad, why not get started today, even while in Japan? Practically anybody can take advantage of this opportunity due to a recent change in law allowing for students to take the U.S. CPA exam while being in Japan. (Previously one would have had to fly to the U.S. or Guam or Hawaii to do so.)

There are several providers of materials and training out there, much of them offering courses online. They can help get you to the point where you are ready and able to successfully take the CPA exam and become licensed. And, to reiterate, all this can be done while in Japan. One particularly good provider of training and preparation is Becker Professional Education. They are noted as a source of high-quality course materials that match the content and functionality of the actual CPA Exam. This would be a good place to start on the road to a lucrative and even rewarding and fun career.

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  • raeldor says:

    My wife is taking the CPA exams, but she said because she is studying for the Califonia certification she can’t take that exam in Japan. Is that still true, or has that changed also? Thanks.



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