What Is a CPA? What Do Certified Public Accountants Do?

The CPA profession has many roles and responsibilities and the process to becoming a certified public accountant is quite involved.

What Is a CPA? What Do Certified Public Accountants Do?

CPAs are essential in the complex and constantly changing business environment of today.

CPAs have a number of responsibilities, including providing accurate financial records and helping with tax preparation.

The CPA is a highly prestigious designation that indicates high levels of competence and compliance with professional standards.

You will find out more about the CPA, their roles and responsibilities, and how to obtain a CPA licence.

We will also explore the different career paths available to CPAs, and the importance and ethics of professionalism in accounting.

What is a CPA (certified public accountant)?

CPAs are accounting professionals who meet specific requirements in terms of education, experience, and examination.

Accounting services include financial accounting, tax preparation and auditing services.

It is important to distinguish between a CPA, and an accounting professional who does not hold a CPA. Non-CPAs may hold an accounting degree, and they can perform bookkeeping or financial report tasks.

A CPA, however, has passed the Uniform CPA Exam and met all work experience requirements. They are also licensed by their state boards of accountancy. This license indicates a greater level of expertise in accounting.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is the professional association that represents CPAs across the United States.

The CPA provides continuing education, professional development and resources to CPAs.

What are the educational and licensing requirements for CPAs?

To become a CPA, candidates must meet certain educational and licensing requirements. The following are some of the requirements:

Education: Candidates should have a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting or a closely related field. Some states require a graduate degree or a specific number of semester-hours in accounting to qualify for licensure.

Exam uniform CPA

The Uniform CPA Exam, administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy(NASBA), is a comprehensive test that tests a candidate’s knowledge and abilities in different accounting areas.

There are four sections to the exam:

Financial Accounting and reporting (FAR)
REG: Regulation.

Candidates must complete all four sections in a maximum of 18 months. After passing, you can earn your CPA certification.

License requirements

Each state has its own State Board of Accountancy that is responsible for regulating CPAs. These boards determine the requirements for licensing, including education and experience.

CPA candidates are required to complete a certain number of hours of work under the supervision of an accredited CPA in order to obtain their CPA license. Some states also require continuing education in order to maintain their license.

What career opportunities are there for CPAs in the accounting field?

CPAs can choose from a variety of careers, such as working for:

Positions of Chief Financial Officer and CFO: CPAs who have extensive experience can move up to executive positions such as Chief Finance Officer (CFO), which oversees an organization's strategy and financial operations.

What services are provided by CPAs?

CPAs offer a wide range of services including:

Financial Planning and Consulting Services - Helping clients reach their financial goals through advice on budgeting, investments and financial management.

A CPA career is exciting and rewarding, no matter which area of accounting one chooses to specialize in. This job provides opportunities for growth as well as the opportunity to work with people from all walks.

CPAs are in high demand because of this.

What are the different specializations of the CPA profession

CPAs may choose to specialize based on their career goals and interests.

These include:

Forensic Accounting

This specialty involves the investigation of financial fraud, disputes, and other irregularities. Forensic accounting professionals may work with businesses, law enforcement agencies or legal teams to resolve disputes and uncover financial misconduct.

Financial planning

CPAs who specialize on financial planning provide advice to individuals and businesses about various aspects of financial management such as retirement planning, estate planning, investments and other financial issues.


Tax experts focus on compliance, planning, and consulting for businesses, individuals, and non-profits. They assist clients in navigating complex tax laws, regulations and saving money on taxes.

Nonprofit and Government Accounting

In this area, CPAs focus on the specific accounting and financial reporting needs of government agencies and non-profit organizations. They assist in budgeting, financial management and ensuring compliance with specific regulations.

Consultancy services

CPA consultants offer specialized advice to businesses in various financial, operational, and strategic areas, including mergers and acquisitions. They also provide solutions for risk management, business valuations, and other issues.

What are the ethics and professional guidelines for the CPA profession?

The CPA profession is based on ethics and professionalism. CPAs are required to adhere to AICPA Code of Ethics in order for them maintain public trust and the reputation of the profession. The Code of Ethics outlines the CPAs' ethical responsibilities, and gives guidance on how they can maintain the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.

Maintaining ethical standards also requires a commitment to continuing professional education.

CPAs must complete a specific number of CPE (continuing professional education) hours every year in order to keep up with the latest trends in industry, as well as changes in laws and regulations.

Consider a career in CPA

CPAs are a great option for anyone who is interested in a career in Accounting. You can be a CPA with the right education, experience, and willingness to learn. This will lead you to a rewarding career full of many opportunities.