What is the Difference Between an Accountant and a CPA?

what is the difference between a cpa and an accountant

You may need certain credentials to perform certain tasks, such as the Internal Revenue Service’s Enrolled Agent qualification for preparing tax returns. Armed with such a degree, accountants and CPAs are able to navigate all sorts of financial situations that might arise in a variety of industries and in businesses. Explore how Maryville University’s online Master of Science in Accounting, featuring Becker CPA exam preparation courses, can help you advance your career. The qualifications needed to work as a CPA, on the other hand, are much more rigorous. You need to meet education and experience requirements set by your state’s Board of Accountancy. Once you have fulfilled all of the criteria, you can take the four-part Uniform CPA Examination, a challenging professional exam which only half of test takers pass. The most important responsibility that only a CPA can fill is the filing reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission , the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

  • Whereas, an accountant will only be able to make a compiled financial statement.
  • License is only required for CPAs, and accountants don’t need a license.
  • Accountants without a CPA certification may prepare a proper tax return, but a CPA offers distinct advantages to clients that non-CPAs cannot provide.
  • Some accountants focus on business management accounting, which helps organizations leverage company performance metrics and other data to make business decisions.
  • Many businesses that are required to have a financial statement audit will find that only a CPA is capable of performing these services and issue the necessary reports.

Accountants are legally allowed to prepare tax returns, although they may not have as much knowledge of tax codes as a CPA does. Another important distinction is that CPAs can represent clients in front of the IRS in the event of a tax audit, and they can sign tax returns, whereas non-CPA accountants cannot. Businesses that are required to have their financial statements audited or reviewed typically need a CPA to perform these tasks and provide the required reports. Based on EMSI’s aggregated job posting data for 2021, there were 46,626 job postings for accounting professionals that required a CPA. On the other hand, there were 170,607 jobs posted for accountants that only required a bachelor’s degree, not a CPA. CPAs are required to complete at least 150 college credit hours to qualify for a CPA license, compared to the standard 120 credits required to earn a bachelor’s degree.


Additionally, if a client is audited by the IRS, the CPA will represent them on their behalf. The most popular CPA career paths include working for public accounting firms, offering accounting services as self-employed professionals, and https://www.bookstime.com/ working on behalf of government and nonprofit agencies. Readers wondering “What is a CPA?” may think only of their local tax preparation professional — someone who sits behind a desk and files dozens of tax returns from January to April.

When to Hire a CPA and an Accountant?

It is recommended that you consult a CPA before establishing a business. It will aid in putting things into perspective. You will need an accountant to maintain financial records, manage payments, and plan your taxes.

Every company or individual needs to manage their books and take care of the finances. For this, you need to hire (on a full-time or freelancing basis) a bookkeeper — the main aim to maintain a systematic record of the transactions and balance the books. Accounting offers businesses with reports and insights that help them bind together multiple financial indicators. As a result, the businesses are better positioned to understand the areas generating profits and the ones that need improvement. It is responsible for turning the numbers from ledgers to statements that help businesses plan better and reach their long-term goals. Do you need help managing the day-to-day bookkeeping processes of your business? Hand the reigns to a professional bookkeeper to free up your time so you can focus on running your business and rest assured that your finances are in good hands.

What Is the Difference Between an Accountant and a CPA?

CPAs are trusted financial accountants who help an individual, organizations, and businesses plan their finance and reach their financial goals. CPAs can conduct all the tasks that are done by accountants, but an accountant cannot conduct cpa vs accountant all the tasks of a CPA. The three main components for getting a CPA license are Education, Examination, and Experience. Ageras is an international financial marketplace for accounting, bookkeeping and tax preparation services.

  • Accountants without a CPA certification may prepare a proper tax return, but a CPA provides distinct advantages to clients that non-CPAs cannot offer.
  • This daily record is a document where a bookkeeper keeps a record of all the incoming and outgoing money.
  • I was fortunate to get a job offer from a mid-size CPA firm in New England while I was a senior in college, and I spent many years working there as an auditor.
  • The profession also demands CPAs to adhere to a strict code of ethics and uphold higher standards than accountants.
  • For new businesses, a CPA can be a valuable resource in explaining financial statements and what they mean for your business — both now and in the future.

Accountants without a CPA license still compile financial statements, and they enjoy a low unemployment rate and a stable job outlook even during harsh economic times. The difference between a CPA and a regular accountant is that only CPAs can write an audited financial statement, such as a balance sheet or income statement. Companies that sell shares on the stock market have to provide audited statements so investors can judge the worth of the stock. Smaller companies that don’t sell shares may get along fine with an accountant who is not a CPA. Accountants typically have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or a related field.

Legal representation before the IRS

There are many different types of work a CPA can perform in a firm setting. A bookkeeper can help you manage your payroll taxes, sales taxes, and compile 1099s, but only an accountant, CPA, or EA can file your tax returns for you.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.