How Much Time Does It Take to Earn a Decent Income After Becoming a Certified Tax Preparer?

By: Jamie Waggoner 

This is a question many people might be asking themselves when considering whether or not they might want to become a tax preparer.  

They may have started out with questions like, how can I get money fast, how to make money at home, or what job can I get fast?

It is true you can easily become a tax preparer quickly click here.  

Now can you make money fast? 

Well, technically yes, you can start preparing people’s taxes right away after you “go pro”!  

You don’t need to wait, you can get started right away.

The question though is, how much time does it REALLY take to accrue a decent income after becoming a professional tax preparer?

 Let’s explore the answer…

What Is Your Definition of a “Decent Income”?

What is a decent income for you? People have different views on what a decent income could look like.

Maybe some would say $2,000 per tax season would be nice, some would say $50,000 would be more like it. 

Again, it all depends on the person, and what you’re trying to accomplish.

Generally speaking, tax preparers range from $20 to $50 an hour depending on experience in the job, what company you work for, and other factors.

The 100 Tax Return Rule

On average—and, again, this is just a general rule of thumb—it takes about three years, or 100 tax returns prepared, for a tax preparer to be pretty good at what you do.

Whichever comes first, either three years of experience or 100 tax returns, one way or another you need to hit one of those markers before you can expect to earn good


Once you’re good at your job, clients will notice. 

Before 100 tax returns, let’s face it, you are just learning the ropes. 

And most clients don’t exactly want to be your “guinea pig” when you are just starting out.

How fast can you get your first 100 returns under your belt? 

Some people will do it in one tax season, many tax preparers do it over three seasons. 

Do not expect to be “raking it in” before you have gotten some experience or else you will be disappointed.

Remember though that when we say “three years” it’s not like you’re sitting there working every day for three years.

On the contrary, you might work as little as 50-80 days per year during tax season. 

Many tax companies hire people to work just a few weeks per year.

The point is you need to get experience under your belt.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

You might be disappointed about the three years or 100 tax returns comment, but everything takes practice.

Listen, tax preparer isn’t the type of job to go up and quit your day job and replace your income overnight.

You know the story of the tortoise and the hare?  Who won that race, in the end?  Just sayin.’

How Long to Build Up a Good Tax Business?

If you are taking the self-employed route then you will need to market yourself to get clients.

The big tax preparation chains often pay minimum wage or close to it because they give you the clients and the technology needed to do taxes.

 You sit in the desk and do tax returns.  Believe it or not doing tax returns is the easy part of the job for many tax preparers.

Getting clients can be much more challenging.

The best part about being self-employed is the fact that it is your own money.  

Pronto Tax School is a great course for the self-employed because they don’t require you to work for us after you take our courses unlike some other tax education programs. 

The speed of your client acquisition will depend on your marketing and sales acumen.

The Secret Ingredient to Speeding Up Your Tax Career

If you can market and sell your services effectively, that will certainly accelerate how long it will take you to start pulling in good money.

Many people get into the tax business because they like the technical aspects of the work but they neglect the importance of sales skills and then they wonder why clients

don’t exactly flock into their arms.

Make it a focus to build up your marketing and sales skills and you will surely accelerate your ability to earn a good income as a tax preparer.

Step by Step

Look at this profession as “taking the steps” to having a good career that makes money.

It is not an “escalator,” it is a stairway.

Focus on the steps involved:

  • Getting your education
  • Doing at least 100 tax returns to become experienced
  • Learning to market and sell your services so that clients choose you

Take the steps themselves and let the money follow.

You have to earn what you get in this business.

Everything depends on the trust you create with clients and that cannot happen overnight.

The good thing though is that once you have the trust, it also cannot be taken from you overnight.

Let’s get to it then! No time like the present.  If you’re curious about the tax business, and have the patience to make it work for you, get started today click here!

About the writer: 

Jamie Waggoner is a Communication Major at University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW).  Jamie’s favorite course at the moment is Integrated Marketing, which shows how smart companies use storytelling and word-of-mouth to develop authentic and compelling relationships with their customers and the general public.  Jamie did not realize when she accepted an internship at Pronto Tax School that she would become a tax expert, but hey, life is full of surprises and that’s a good thing.

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Let's Make Sure We Direct You to the Right
Training for Your Needs!

Please click the button below for your primary tax credential.

Not sure which credential applies to your situation?  Click here to reach our support team and we'll help you decide.