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What Is a CPA, and What Do They Do?

what does a public accountant do

They analyze financial data and offer advice on regulatory compliance issues to the finance department. Most of the day, they organize invoices, prepare statements, and supervising systems. They should be equipped with analytical skills, industry knowledge, critical thinking, and interpersonal communication. Obtaining the certified public accountant (CPA) designation requires a bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance, or accounting. Individuals are also required to complete 150 hours of education and have no fewer than two years of public accounting experience. To receive the CPA designation, a candidate also must pass the Uniform CPA Exam.

An accountant will also often help a client manage their books, which also helps the organization or individual understand their cash flow and overall financial position. While every state uses this exam as part of its local license requirements to become a CPA, each also has its own requirements for licensure. These typically involve some combination of residency in the state, education requirements, and minimum training and/or experience in accounting. In addition to offering advice on financial matters, CPAs can help companies prepare for tax audits and other compliance issues. They’ll also draft the necessary business filings required by federal, state, and local governments as well as oversee the filing process. This includes reviewing and analyzing a company’s accounting system, as well as preparing and issuing financial statements.

CPA vs. accountant

Besides overseeing financial management and budget management, a public accountant also maintains and audits an organization’s financial records. Other duties performed by public accountants include creating and analyzing budgets and recommending fiscally practical techniques to save the company’s money. A public accountant reports financial information to the organization management and audits its accounts for overspending, fraud, errors, and misinformation. If we compare the average certified public accountant annual salary with that of a tax professional, we find that tax professionals typically earn a $16,452 lower salary than certified public accountants make annually. Overall, public accountants are members of the accounting professional team who are vital for their expertise in financial statements, ledgers, and forecasting revenue reports.

In my experience, the best way to learn to audit was to actually be an auditor, which I did for many years out of college working in public accounting. Although tax returns are not open to the public, they fall under the public accounting umbrella due to the legal requirement of disclosing financial information to the government. Public accounting also includes filing corporations’ records with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and potential investors. Accountant/consultants tend to earn a higher pay than public accountants by an average of $5,455 per year.

Public Accountant Overview

Acquiring your certified public accountant license takes time, patience and planning. Being a CPA also takes a commitment to continuing education even after earning your CPA designation. CPAs are often required to complete 40 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) each year, depending on state board requirements. A CPA is a financial professional licensed by a state board to provide accounting services to the public. A CPA performs accounting duties such as tax preparation, auditing, and consulting.

  • Therefore, you can take on additional duties related to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that not all accountants can perform.
  • Comparatively, certified public accountants have the highest earning potential in the finance industry, with an average salary of $92,755.
  • CPAs must meet eligibility requirements, obtain state licensure, and follow strict principles established by the AICPA.
  • Their responsibilities revolve around preparing financial reports, performing audits and risk assessments, and identifying any errors and inconsistencies, resolving them promptly and efficiently.
  • In Texas, for example, candidates need 2,000 hours of experience in accounting services.

The people employed in public accounting are often certified public accountants or CPAs. Many accountants leave the larger public accounting firms after several years of experience and become an employee at a business or other organization. In their new position they are referred to as a private accountant, corporate accountant or internal accountant. Even though public accountants and account auditors are distinct careers, a few of the skills required for both jobs are similar. For example, both careers require cpa, real estate, and audit procedures in the day-to-day roles and responsibilities.

What is the difference between a public accountant and a certified public accountant?

There are some key differences in the responsibilities of each position. A certified public accountant (CPA) acts as an advisor to small businesses and chief financial officers to Fortune 500 companies. They aid businesses and individuals to plan and achieve their financial goals. There are several requirements to become a CPA, including having a degree in accounting, passing the CPA examination, and obtaining a CPA license to practice. Public accountants may be self-employed with their own accounting firm or may be employed by a public accounting firm that serves businesses, individuals, non-profit organizations, or government agencies.

CPAs can help companies reduce financial risk, make informed decisions, and improve their performance. They perform multiple accounting duties which vary based on where they work. All Certified Public Accountants are accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs.

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The changes “will make a tremendous difference,” says Elizabeth Krear, the vice president of the electric vehicle practice at auto data giant JD Power. “That’s $7,500 right there at the time of the transaction — versus having to finance at a higher price, which increases the monthly payments, and then waiting for that tax rebate down the line sometime in April.” Then they’d transfer the tax credit to the dealership, and in exchange, the dealer will either give them that much in cash or as a down payment toward the vehicle.

what does a public accountant do

In most states, this includes 150 credit hours in college-level accounting courses. Some CPA accounting candidates complete this requirement as undergraduate students. While a master’s degree is not specifically needed to meet the educational what is public accounting requirement, some of the 150 credit hour programs lead to a graduate degree. If you’re trying to decide whether a graduate degree is right for you, read about a Becker student’s experience pursuing a master’s in accounting.

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