Certified public accountants (CPAs) generally handle the accounting, tax, reporting and/or audit processes for governments, corporations or individual clients. Their duties may vary depending on their employer and specialization. However, tasks commonly performed by CPAs include reviewing their company's financial information; preparing documentation or reporting related to finances, taxes, or audits; and staying up-to-date on changes in government regulations. They may also perform audits for their organization, as well as make suggestions on improving bookkeeping and recordkeeping processes.
CPAs usually work in an office setting with significant computer-based work. They may have to work long hours, especially during the annual tax season (January to April). CPAs may work in a variety of settings, such as larger or small accounting firms, companies in a range of industries, non-profit organizations, or local, state, or federal government agencies; they may also be self-employed. These accountants may have a specialization such as financial planning, taxes, auditing or valuation, among others.
Requirements to become a CPA vary by state. A bachelor’s degree with significant coursework in accounting and business administration is generally needed; these professionals also need to pass the four-part national CPA exam administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Additionally, each state has its own requirements for licensure by the state board of accountancy.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Tasks
Ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.
Generate and interpret financial records and statements.
Maintain records of assets, liabilities, profit and loss, tax liability, or other financial activities, utilizing accounting principles.
Analyze financial data in order to prepare and communicate financial reports.