Japanese accountants are registering to take the U.S. CPA Exam as a way to increase their international employment options, according to a new survey.

The  U.S. CPA  Exam  is  being offered  in Japan during  the first two months of each three month testing  window this year, the same as candidates sitting for the exam in the 55 state board jurisdictions, rather than the second month only, as had been the case to date.

A recent survey by the American Institute of CPAs and National Association of State Boards of Accountancy survey of 592 Japanese U.S. CPA candidates showed that the primary motivating factors for taking the Uniform CPA Exam and becoming licensed U.S. CPAs were improving skills (68.2 percent) and expanding career options (64.2 percent).

Other key driving factors among the Japanese CPA candidates surveyed were increasing the chances of working abroad (39.9 percent) or for an international company (34.8 percent). When asked if they wished to work abroad in the future, 83.7 percent of the survey respondents said that they did.

The results indicate that the U.S. CPA license is perceived to empower people to better tap opportunities in an increasingly globalized Japan.

“2012 was a record year for outbound M&A, driven by a strong yen and an aging and shrinking domestic population,” said Mika Kobayashi of the Japan Society of U.S. CPAs, a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata. “As a global standard accounting qualification, the U.S. CPA allows people to benefit from Japan’s current push for international economic growth.”

The poll found that 84.2 percent of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that the CPA license is becoming more valuable in the job market, with 68.0 percent seeing it as more valuable than other accounting credentials. As to the benefits of holding the U.S. CPA, 70.4 percent said it improves professional ability, 57.3 percent felt that it improved self-confidence, while 52.9 percent saw it as demonstrating English language capability.

“The U.S. CPA is the Gold Standard qualification in accounting, and demand for professional accountants is increasing worldwide,” said NASBA executive vice president and COO Colleen Conrad in a statement. “Beyond accounting, the qualification opens up career paths in diverse fields as management consulting. And the number of Japanese candidates is increasing. Japanese citizens account for approximately 60 percent of all international candidates.”

“The accounting profession in the United States is expected to grow by 16 percent over the next ten years, creating 190,000 jobs,” said AICPA vice president of examinations and CPE Craig Mills in a statement. “The U.S. CPA is backed by a rigorous exam, strict licensing requirements and a stringent code of ethics. Taking the exam and becoming a licensed CPA is a great way for an accountant to prove their capability to a potential employer—in Japan, the United States and worldwide.”

According to Robert Half’s 2012 Accounting & Finance Salary Guide, the CPA is the most requested accreditation in the accounting and finance professions.

Of those responding to the survey, the vast majority (76.2 percent) of respondents were in permanent full-time employment. This is reflective of AICPA/NASBA data that indicates that Japanese candidates are more likely to be young professionals or mid-career candidates, in comparison to the U.S. or Middle East (where the international exam program also operates), where candidates are more likely to be closer to university age.

A total of 36.2 percent of respondents said that the convenience offered by now being able to sit for the exam in Japan had influenced their decision to become a U.S. CPA. The international exam, offered in English, has been available in Japan since August 2011. It is the same as the U.S. exam administered by the AICPA, NASBA, and Prometric in the United States.  The exam is available to candidates in Japan at test centers administered by Prometric in Tokyo, Osaka and Kanagawa.

Japanese candidates are invited to visit the Japanese U.S. CPA Exam site at http://www.aicpa.org/BecomeACPA/CPAExam/Pages/UScpaexam-jp.aspx.

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