The Certified Public Accountant is a designation offered to eligible accountants, who have passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination in the USA and possess the necessary state education and experience. The CPA license protects the public from inefficient individuals, who perform substandard accounting work. The first accountancy law was passed in 1896, by the state of New York, in order to test the qualifications of public accountants. Then accounting evolved as a profession and was tagged with licensing requirements, code of professional ethics and certain standards of profession.
Later many states also followed this lead and eventually fifty-four states and jurisdictions enacted the public accounting legislation. The Board of Accountancy bears the responsibility for licensing candidates as well as for compliance with the state accountancy laws. Most of the U.S. state accountants without a CPA license are prohibited from providing opinions or suggestions on financial statements. As a result, in a number of cases, the CPA designation is not allowed to be used out-of-the-state until you get a license or a certificate from the state.
To become a CPA in the United States, it is essential to take and pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants sets the test and is administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. Individual State Boards of Accountancy identify the eligibility criteria for the Uniform CPA Exams. A U.S. Bachelors degree in accounting, along with an additional one year study is required to be eligible to take the CPA test.
CPAs work in a range of areas of finance including the following:
. Audit, assurance and information integrity.
. Planning analyzing financial status.
. Forensic accounting like detecting, preventing and investigating frauds related to finance.
. Information technology.
. Venture Capital.
. Planning and tax preparation.
. Corporate governance.
Owing to the frequently changing nature of their profession, it is essential for CPAs to keep themselves abreast with the latest developments in the field. Even if the changes are in the form of new laws or old laws amended to reflect changes, pleading ignorance is not a way out for them. They need to be aware of a number of fields, as the profession deals with a range of tasks including taxation, finance, planning, business and advisory rules. In order to be successful as a CPA, it is necessary to opt for ongoing education.
A number of educational as well as other institutions, including several non-profitable centers offer ongoing professional courses for CPAs. In most states, a professional CPA license holder is required to take specified professional education courses on an annual basis. It helps to retain the professional license. In order to pursue continuing education, a CPA is required to take time off from the busy schedule and be a part of professional courses. The continuing education programs can even take the form of official conferences and seminars that offer a number of credits to CPAs attending a certain number of hours. These conferences and seminars are headed by popular speakers, who share their experiences, skills and knowledge with the CPAs.
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