Students who clear the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination earn the Certified Public Accountant degree. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the title given to all qualified accountants in the United States.
In the US, the Public Accountant (PA) is the lower-tier designation given to those individuals, who have a qualification lower than that of a CPA. Most PAs belong to the National Society of (Public) Accountants.
As different states have different parameters for the Certified Public Accountants, therefore a person who comes from some other state has to obtain the license of that particular state to start working. Many states have prohibited the usage of the title CPA or PA by the person who doesn’t belong to the state.
Once a person has attained the CPA degree, his main functional domain is assurance services known as public accounting. CPAs verify the reasonableness of disclosures, the freedom of material misstatement and the adherence to floating principles.
Sometimes, CPAs are also employed by the private sector on higher posts such as that of CEOs or as Chief Financial Officers, but that also depends on their knowledge of business. In such cases, they serve the public indirectly.
Some CPAs also work as consultants to large business firms. However, now the rules are changing and CPAs who work as consultants don’t work as auditors or vice versa.
Whether they work as consultants or as auditors they can operate in any of the financial areas such as Financial Accounting, Management Consulting and Performance Management, Financial Planning, Financial Analyses, Venture Capital, Forensic Accounting (preventing or detecting financial frauds), and Estate Planning
There are some CPAs who offer many of these services listed above, but when considered on an overall basis, CPAs are specialists and work in only one financial area.
To get a Certified Public Accountant degree, one has to sit for the Uniform Certified Public Accountants Exam (Uniform CPA Exam). It is set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.
Eligibility to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam is decided by the states and varies from one state of the US to another. However, typically, a bachelors degree in accountancy along with one year of additional study is the prerequisite. The requirement of 5 year study is known as the 150 hour rule.
Overseas accountants, who want to become a US CPA, may be eligible to sit for the International Qualification Examination as an alternative to the Uniform CPA Exam.
The exam for Certified Public Accountant degree basically comprises various questions on the general principles of state law (however, questions which would result in a variety of answers due to variance in state laws are not asked) or federal law.