Considering a CPA Designation in the US

A Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, has obtained a license to practice public accounting. If you’re an accountant, the CPA designation can help you advance in your career. In fact, the accounting industry prefers certain positions to be staffed by CPAs.

Here are several accounting roles that are typically filled by CPAs:

Controller and Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

The controller is the individual in a company that is responsible for all of the accounting. A controller manages other accountants in the organization. The Chief Financial Officer, or CFO, manages the Controller, as well as other finance-related positions, such as the firm’s Treasurer. While the Controller manages the accounting transactions process, the CFO is ultimately responsible for the company’s financial reports.

Tax Preparation

Many businesses and individuals hire a CPA to prepare tax returns. While a CPA is not required for tax return processing, some people prefer the expertise provided by a CPA. Another type of tax preparer designation is Enrolled Agent, or EA. An EA passes a set of exams to obtain their designation. Those exams differ from the CPA career path.

Audit Work

An auditor performs work to determine if a company’s financial statements are materially correct. This work includes financial analysis, asking client questions and testing accounting transactions. The auditor provides a written audit opinion. The opinion states that the financial statements are fairly stated. CPAs perform audits.

Senior Management

Many firms staff their senior management positions with CPAs. Your work as a CPA requires you to understand many aspects of a company’s operations. In order to process accounting transactions, you need to understand the firm’s business. As a result, a CPA may be highly valued and promoted within a business.

If getting a CPA designation appeals to you, here’s the process to get this type of credential:

State Board of Accountancy

Each state has a State Board of Accountancy, which is responsible for issuing licenses to practice public accounting. Your first step is to find your state’s Board and check out the requirements to become a CPA. Head to this site for more:

Educational Requirements

Your state will require a certain number of college credit hours, with a specific number of hours in accounting courses. Your next step is to ensure that you meet your state’s educational requirements.

The Uniform CPA Exam

All CPA candidates, regardless of their state, must pass the CPA exam. The CPA is administered and graded through the American Institute of CPAs, or AICPA. To learn about the exam, check out the AICPA’s website: (

CPA Test Preparation

There are a variety of test preparation companies that can help you study for the exam. Keep in mind that passing the CPA exam may require 400 hours or more of study time. Becker CPA review is one of the larger text prep providers. Here’s their site:

Getting the CPA designation is a long road. However, once you obtain your CPA, you may find that the credential opens up many doors and helps you advance your career.


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