certified public accountant (CPA)

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A certified public accountant (CPA) is an accounting professional who has met all the requirements to earn a CPA license from the State’s Board of Accountancy (SBA). The main difference between an accountant and CPAs is that CPAs may perform other services, such as auditing, tax consulting services, and financial planning, among others.

Although the requirements to become a SPA may vary from State to State, the following are the general requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance, or accounting.
  • 150 hours of education in college-level accounting courses.
  • At least two years of public accounting experience. Some states require having a year of work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA.
  • Pass the Uniform CPA Exam.
    • Additionally, some States may require passing an ethics exam or ethics course.

Furthermore, to keep the CPA license, CPAs must complete 40 hours of continuing professional education each year. The number of hours required to maintain the CPA license varies from State to State, depending on SBA requirements.

[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]