As an accounting student, you might be wondering if you need to spend the extra time and effort to get your CPA license. “Can’t I make a decent living as an accountant?” Well, sure. But the CPA is a credential—much like a lawyer’s J.D. or a scientist’s PhD—that sets you up for a different career. Here’s why.

CPA = more opportunity.

Having the CPA credential behind your name proves that your skills are up-to-date and relevant to today’s business challenges. That simple fact opens doors for you to move up the ranks to CFO—or do something completely different, like run a non-profit, teach at a college or be a financial planner. The license lets you go in any direction you want.

CPA = higher salary.

According to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting & Finance, you’ll make 5-15% more throughout your career if you have a CPA license. Period.

CPA = more respect.

Just like the letters PhD or M.D. equal respect, so does CPA. CPAs are considered the most trusted advisors in business. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Applied Research & Consulting, LLC, 75% of business decision-makers say they would be more confident in a job done by a CPA than if it were done by an accountant who is not a CPA. The bottom line: You’ll be taken more seriously as a young professional if you’ve done the work to get the credential.

CPA = job security.

CPAs are consistently ranked as one of the nation’s most recession-proof careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an estimated 166,700 new accounting and auditing jobs will be created by 2022—a 13.1% growth rate. Accounting is essential to business no matter how the economy is doing—and CPAs are the ones running the show.

CPA = an edge.

When you’re changing jobs—which will probably happen several times in your life—the CPA behind your name will indicate to potential employers that you’re an expert in your field. And that makes you an instant choice over someone without the designation.

So, wanna join the legion of respected CPAs? Learn the process.