Certified Public Accountant (CPA) describes United States qualified accounting professionals who have passed the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant's (AICPA) Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination.
Requirements. Each state requires an independent education and experience requirement for CPA license. CPAS must pass the exam and achieve state requirements, such as job experience. Continuing professional education requirements ensure that CPAs keep up-to-date with laws and best practices. If a CPA's license lapses, some states will allow the use of "Inactive CPA" or "CPA Inactive".
CPA Attestation. Most states allow only licensed CPAs to provide "attestation" to financial statement opinions. Some states (Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona, and Kansas) allow unlicensed accountants to certify these opinions. Audit professionals in these states are not required to have the CPA license. Some states allow "Public Accountants" (PAs) to perform some of the duties of CPAs. The National Society of Accountants recognizes PAs.
How CPAs Work. CPAs and other accounting professionals tend to specialize their practices by industry. A strong demand for CPAs with financial services experience exists. Wealth Managers, often CPAs, help clients with investment and tax plans.
Average Annual Compensation. According to PayScale.com, CPAs earn an average range of $48,600 to $74,288 per year in salary, bonus, profit sharing, and commissions. As financial planners, advisors, and wealth managers, CPAs have unlimited earnings potential based upon sales of financial products and services to clients.