How to Become A Tax Preparer

Tax preparers are professionally trained staff who put together tax returns for individuals or small businesses. If you like working with numbers and would like to take that up as a career, then this field might just be the thing for you.

Continue reading to find out more about how to become a tax preparer, along with all the career information you need.

Should I Become a Tax Preparer?

Tax Preparation is a rising career, with many opportunities for those who are entering the field now. Tax Preparers assist in preparing files and general tax forms, and can also defend taxpayers with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This includes court issues regarding tax and even audits.

As every year, tens of millions of Americans file their taxes, it’s the Tax Preparers who help them with their expertise and experience. The profession is regulated by the IRS, along with some other state governments who grant licenses and certifications to the Tax Preparers. There are some states that don’t require a certification but having one means additional benefits, higher salary and job security.

Education Required

Minimum high school degree or GED, training courses; bachelor's degree is not mandatory but is mostly preferred

Major Requirement

Finance, Accounting or Business


License requirement varies from state to state, but Federal Government requires registration of Tax Preparers


Not necessary

Key Skills

Strong written and verbal communication skills, excellent mathematical skills, computer literate

Annual Mean Salary (2018)

$46,860 per year

Job Outlook (2018) - ONet

4% to 6 % increase

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018), ONet (2018)

To become a Tax Preparer, the minimum education required is a high school diploma or GED. Many students also opt for bachelor’s degree in a related field like accounting and finance. To become a licensed Tax Preparer, certain minimum education hours along with some training courses have to be completed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the general field of Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents will see a -2% decline between 2018 and 2028. But according to the employment trends on O*Net Online specifically for Tax Preparers, a 4% to 6% growth is projected between 2018 and 2028.

Career Requirements

To become a Tax Preparer, you do not need a 4 year long undergraduate degree. Strong math skills with a minimum high school diploma are enough to get started in this career. There are some applicants who take tax preparation training courses and some prefer to a earn bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or business to have better job prospects and career growth.

Steps To Become a Tax Preparer

Step 1: Fulfill Education Requirements

Beyond high school diploma, Tax Preparers are required to take training courses in tax preparation. Tax schools and tax preparation companies offer different courses in areas like filing status, dependents, standard deductions, wages, income from interest and taxable benefits. Programs are designed to teach students about social security income, retirement plans and pensions, health savings accounts, charitable contributions and foreign tax. These training programs also cover written and verbal communication skills, teaching students how to deal with clients and conduct interviews. A bachelor’s degree in a related field expands employment opportunities and allows additional benefits.

Step 2: Get Licensed

Tax Preparers are required to obtain a license in most states before they can provide their services. Criteria can vary from state to state but overall, to get a license or certification minimum education hours have to be completed and a written exam has to be passed. It is mandatory for all Tax Preparers to be registered with the federal government. To become a licensed Tax Preparer, it’s important to have Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and applicants also have to pass a compliance and competency check. Once this process is complete, candidates are provided their Registered Tax Return Preparer Certificate (RTRP). This certificate has to be renewed every year.

Step 3: Employment

The job outlook for Tax Preparers is quite positive, especially for those with certification as they can provide services to wider clients. Tax Preparers can work individually as well as for tax preparation companies. Tax Preparers enjoy job security as many people turn to these professionals for guidance when filing their taxes.

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