What is a CPA?

What is a CPA?

A certified public accountant (CPA) is an accounting professional who has met state licensing requirements to earn their CPA designation through educational training, experience and passing the CPA Exam.

The CPA is not a career path or job title, it is a professional designation that can allow accounting professionals more flexibility and mobility in their career. Certified public accountants are typically only licensed in one state, but they can become licensed in additional states based on reciprocity laws.

Acquiring your CPA designation takes time, patience, and careful planning. It also takes a commitment to continuing education even after earning your CPA designation. CPAs are often required to attend and complete 40 hours of continuing professional education each year, depending on state board requirements.

Due to the difficulty of passing the CPA Exam, as well as the commitment to continuing education after earning your CPA designation, many in the field consider it one of the most prestigious designations an accounting professional can earn.

Why should I become a CPA?

A CPA license is an assurance of quality, showing that an accounting professional has met the profession’s highest standards of competence and achievement.

NASBA recently highlighted five of the top reasons to become a CPA, including prestige and respect, career development, career security, job satisfaction, and money and benefits.

What does a CPA do?

Across industries, CPAs are sought out for their reliability, industry knowledge, and credentials. The AICPA lists several popular fields that CPAs work in, including:

  • Public Accounting
  • Business and Industry
  • Government
  • Education
  • Nonprofit

CPAs are not limited to one industry, or even one job function. According to the AICPA, popular areas of interest available to those that earn their CPA designation include:

  • Auditing and Review
  • Tax Preparation and Consulting
  • Consulting Services
  • Financial Planning
  • Litigation Consulting

How do I become a CPA?

Start by reviewing How to become a CPA: Our 4-step guide to learn what steps to take to begin your CPA journey!