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What Is a CPA (Certified Public Accountant)?

A CPA is an acronym for a certified public accountant. All CPAs are accountants but not all accountants are considered CPAs. Getting the label of CPA means that the accountant must take a series of tests that are given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Some states in the US also implement separate state exams that CPA aspirants must also take. Becoming a CPA means that the accountant can perform a number of tasks that only licensed accountants are allowed to do. Non-CPAs are barred from doing these tasks.

A Certified Public Accountant is licensed to handle a number of tasks and responsibilities. CPAs can perform basic income tax preparation for individuals, small and medium businesses and corporations. They can also do business record keeping, auditing and consultancy. CPAs have to continually work at maintaining their license. Every three years, CPAs must undergo 120 hours of continuing education courses. This is done to ensure that the CPA is always informed of latest developments in his profession.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation also has a particular significance to CPAs. To be able to apply for a position in the FBI, one has to either be a CPA or attorney. Other government offices and agencies also have a need for CPAs. This is not to mention the many corporations and businesses who are also in need of the services of a CPA. Some of the corporate positions that CPAs can ably fill include controllers, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer.

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