Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) generally handle the accounting, taxes, reporting, and audit processes for governments, corporations, and individual clients. To become a CPA, one must obtain a bachelor’s degree (preferably with a major in Accounting or Business Administration), earn an additional 150 hours of college credit (unless in California, Colorado, New Hampshire or Vermont, which have different requirements), and pass the four-part national CPA exam administered by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA); additionally, each state has its own requirements for licensure by the State Board of Accountancy. In order to be successful in the profession, CPAs typically must have an analytic mind, an excellent eye for detail, and aptitude for math. They usually work indoors, in a well-lit office. Work usually is performed at a desk, with a computer, and typically involves reviewing various types of financial information, keeping up-to-date on changes in government regulations, or preparing documentation or reporting related to finances, taxes, or audits. A CPA may have to work long hours, especially during the annual tax season (January to April). CPAs have a variety of career paths from which to choose. One can work for any sized firm, ranging from a large, international firm to a small local accounting practice, as well as in a range of industries, non-profit organizations, or level of government (local, state, or federal). CPAs also have various specializations available as professional options. Additionally, CPAs may choose to be self-employed and focus on personal financial matters of a limited number of clients.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Tasks
- 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.
- Ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.
- Generate and interpret financial records and statements.