Choosing a CPA Exam Discipline for your career path

Man choosing a CPA Exam discipline on his laptop

CPA Evolution brings a lot of changes for students taking the CPA Exam in 2024, including choosing a Discipline. If you're feeling overwhelmed or worried about making the right choice, consider how you want your future to look and what career path you're most interested in. To help you choose the best CPA Exam Discipline, we're looking at the skills and career paths associated with each one. 

Before we dive in, it's important to note that choosing a Discipline doesn't lock you into a specific career, and every Discipline opens a variety of doors. While it provides you with a guide when you start the next step in your career, you can always change or branch out on your path. 

Check out what National Instructor Mike Potenza says are the three questions to ask yourself before you choose a CPA Exam Discipline. 

An overview of the new CPA Exam Format

Prior to 2024, the CPA Exam consisted of four individual sections: 

  • Auditing & Attestation (AUD) 
  • Business Environment & Concepts (BEC)
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR)
  • Regulation (REG)

To obtain your CPA license, you had to pass all four sections of the exam. 

With CPA Evolution, there are now three Core sections that everyone must pass: 

  • Auditing & Attestation (AUD)
  • Financial Auditing & Reporting (FAR)
  • Taxation & Regulation (REG)

Unless you passed BEC prior to 2024, CPA candidates must also choose from one of three Discipline sections, each focusing on specific skills and knowledge: 

  • Business Analysis & Reporting (BAR) 
  • Information Systems and Controls (ISC)
  • Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP)

Not sure which CPA Exam Discipline is right for you? Take our quiz and find out!


Career paths for Business Analysis & Reporting (BAR)

The BAR is the best CPA Exam Discipline for accountants and financial professionals who want to dig into the technical aspects of accounting and reporting. By focusing on this section, you'll show potential clients and employers that you have specialized skills and knowledge related to: 

  • Data analytics
  • Financial risk management and planning
  • Technical accounting and reporting
  • State and local government accounting

This Discipline opens up a variety of job opportunities, including: 

  • Auditor at a public accounting firm
  • Corporate accounting 
  • Controller
  • Chief Accountant
  • CFO or CEO

Career Paths for Information Systems & Controls (ISC)

The ISC Discipline is an excellent option if you're interested in how information technology, security, and data management relate to accounting and finance. When you pass this section of the CPA Exam, you'll demonstrate skills related to: 

  • Business processes
  • Information systems
  • Information security
  • IT audits
  • System and Organization Controls (SOC) engagements

With this proven knowledge and expertise, job opportunities include: 

  • Data manager
  • Data engineer 
  • Data scientist
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
  • IT auditor

Career Paths for Tax Compliance & Planning (TCP)

If you're interested in all things tax related, including tax regulation and compliance, this may be the best CPA Exam Discipline for you. Passing the TCP section of the CPA Exam, proves you have knowledge of complex tax issues and elements, including: 

  • Advanced individual tax compliance
  • Personal financial planning
  • Advanced entity tax compliance and planning
  • Property transactions

By gaining a deeper understanding of international tax issues, federal tax planning, business structures, and tax implications of proposed transactions, you'll be in a stronger position to manage your own tax practice or take on jobs including: 

  • Tax analyst
  • Tax compliance officer
  • Tax professional within the tax department of a company, public accounting firm, government offices, banks, or hedge funds

Explore all three Disciplines with Becker CPA Exam Review

We know choosing a Discipline can be a tough decision, but we want to make it easier. Choosing Becker CPA Exam Review gives you full 30-day access to all three Discipline exam prep courses. Get started today with a 14-day Free Trial so you can see how we get you Exam Day ReadySM.

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