Certified Public Accountants (CPA) is a US qualification in accounting, very similar to the UK and European Chartered Accountant qualification. It is a measure of that person's experience and knowledge of the principles and practices of accounting. It is a requirement for many roles within US financial business areas.
What does a CPA do?
Tax, business and public sector Many CPAs spend much of their time creating and filing tax returns, either for companies and individuals. Indeed, many tax CPAs do nothing else and are highly skilled in this area. However, many others move into audit or government accounting jobs in both of which the CPA accounting qualification is mandatory. IRS Requirements From 2011, the IRS has confirmed that tax preparers will be required to have passed an IRS exam and to have committed to ongoing training before they can practice. Qualified CPAs are exempt from the rule which is indeed another good reason for taking the exam. Other areas of employment Surprisingly, not all accounting and financial roles require the qualification. Within banks and brokerages, even the top management positions do not require the CPA exams. However, to really get on in one of the big accounting firms, a CPA is a must.
How to qualify?
How to become a CPA? In order to become a US CPA, you will be required to pass an exam and then, continue to undertake professional training. This will ensure that you understand the latest rules and regulations. However, CPA requirements do vary from state to state, so qualification in one may not allow you to practice in another. Often, this can be overcome if you are working for a large, multi-state firm. Training as a CPA There are many CPA courses available from colleges and online. In order to ensure that the course that you wish to take is avid, it is a good idea to consult the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). This website contains up to date information on requirements, getting started and the CPA exam itself. Why take the CPA exam? As mentioned above, not all accountants work requires the CPA. However, when you are in the job market, particularly for more prestigious roles, the qualification shows that you have a good financial background. You can read and understand company financial accounts and have practice of a high level of professionalism.