What is a CPA (Certified Practicing Accountant) and What Do They Do?

What is a CPA (Certified Practicing Accountant) and What Do They Do?

In the United States, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the title reserved for accountants who have passed the CPA exam. Not only must the student pass the exam; there are additional requirements that must be met such as furthered education or gaining a certain amount of work experience. Becoming a CPA gives an accountant license to offer their services to the general public.

The designation of CPA is typically used behind a person’s name to show their level of experience. Interestingly, there are approximately 1.3 million accountants in the United States and of these around 650,000 are CPAs; which means that around half of all accountants in the United States are licensed CPAs. A CPA license is an assurance of quality – a symbol of achievement – and indicates the highest standard of competence in the accounting profession.

The ‘Uniform CPA Examination’

Candidates wishing to become a CPA in the United States must successfully complete the Uniform CPA Examination which is overseen by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The designation ’CPA’ was first established in law on April 17, 1896 in New York State.

Similar to the way a lawyer is defined by his or her law license, a CPA license shows the public that an accountant has passed the Uniform CPA Examination by mastering the more advanced elements of the accounting profession. In order to qualify for the prestige associated with a CPA license, candidates must demonstrate competence and knowledge by complying with a certain educational standard, sitting for and passing the Uniform CPA Examination, and having a specific amount of experience in general accounting.

A CPA credential will be issued by one of the 55 United States jurisdictions, authorizing the holder of such credential to practice as a Certified Practicing Accountant in that jurisdiction. CPA requirements could well vary across jurisdiction borders, so, depending on the jurisdiction, CPAs are required to meet those specific licensing requirements.

The Value of a CPA License

A CPA license is an assurance of quality, skill, and dedication, and indicates a high standard of knowledge and expertise. A CPA license is widely recognized by governments, the public, employers, and their clients. While there’s certainly a wide range of opportunities on offer in the financial and accounting job market, it can’t be denied that a CPA license offers an interesting and financially rewarding career. Whether for professional or personal reasons, deciding to become a CPA is the first step on the path to a long and successful career.

The Role of the CPA

The main function of a CPA is to offer public accounting services, but the designation ‘CPA’ allows accountants to handle more involved tasks, such as auditing. An auditor’s role is to go through financial documents to ensure there are no discrepancies. Many CPAs work in the tax field, while other CPA roles include financial planning, management consulting, forensic accounting, working as a financial analyst, corporate finance, and estate planning.

Generally, a CPA is a financial advisor whose role is to help individuals and businesses plan for and reach their financial goals. A CPA in today’s business world represents a trusted voice in financial consulting. More and more we are seeing CPAs becoming a highly sought after commodity in all professional areas.

Are You Interested in Becoming a CPA?

If you are interested in becoming a CPA and would like to discuss your options, the Minnesota Academy College offers an Accounting Bachelor of Science degree. We can help you achieve your goal of becoming a licensed CPA. Please contact us today for further information.

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