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Becoming a CPA Career Profile

Becoming a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), Job Profile

What is a CPA? These three letters mean that you have received a broad-based education. They mean you have passed all parts of a very difficult exam. They mean you have the knowledge, skills and abilities to be a trusted business adviser to your clients or employer. They mean you feel comfortable with the latest technology. They mean you are an ethical individual who can provide an independent analysis. CPA's are many things. They are chief financial officers for Fortune 500 companies and advisors to small neighborhood businesses. They work for large and small public accounting firms. They are well-respected strategic business advisors and decision-makers. They act as consultants on many issues, including taxes and accounting.

To become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) you need to meet the requirements of the state or jurisdiction in which you wish to practice. These requirements, which vary from state to state, are established by law and administered by the state boards of accountancy. To qualify for certification, you must:

? Have professional work experience in public accounting. The Uniform CPA Exam is a prerequisite for the CPA certificate because it is the primary way Boards of Accountancy measures the competence of CPA candidates.

? Complete a program of study in accounting at a college/university. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) recommends at least 150 semester hours to obtain the common body of knowledge for becoming a CPA.

? Pass the Uniform CPA Examination, which is developed and graded by the AICPA.

Boards of Accountancy also rely on additional means to ensure that a candidate has the necessary technical abilities and character attributes to become a CPA. These may include interviews, letters of reference, investigation of educational background, and affidavits of employment. In addition, some boards of accountancy administer an ethics examination to assess a candidate's knowledge of the rules of professional conduct.

The Board of Examiners of the AICPA is responsible for preparing the Uniform CPA Examinations and for operating the Advisory Grading Service, both adopted by the boards of accountancy in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Examination is given twice each year, in May and November, and its duration is 15 ½ hours long. The exam is administered over a two-day period within the boundaries of the fifty-four jurisdictions that use the exam. It is given and graded...

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