Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     

Certified Public Accountant


Certified Public Accountants, commonly abbreviated as CPAs, are official experts in accounting practices and financial management Their education is focused on financial analysis and general business management, however, they also are educated in all accounting practices. Many CPAs provide tax and financial advice, however CPAs today are rarely hired to perform traditional number crunching. Their role is more centered on analyzing financial proposals and making crucial business and management decisions. Some CPAs are hired to develop budgets for companies (often companies in financial trouble) in order to produce higher profits and returns. CPAs offer their financial consulting advice to a company's management team, create business proposals on how to capitalize on company profits and give presentations or write reports on such research. Their understanding of both the American economy and foreign markets is quite complex and can help businesses start up exporting ventures. CPAs are licensed by a State Board of Accountancy.

CPAs track and summarize every dollar that is spent and earned in a company, even down to the last cent. Therefore, every sale, purchase and profit transaction that occurs within a company or even the expenses of an individual person will show up on a CPAs year-end financial reports. Accountants work according to specific guidelines learned in school and are trained to help both individuals and companies organize and manage their daily finances.

Certified general accountants organize, manage and review accounting systems and prepare financial information for individuals, companies and other organizations. Many have started up their own accounting firms and become successful entrepreneurs. Businesses hire CPAs to help manage and regulate the finances in their companies. Traditionally, accountants were responsible for completing mounds of tedious paperwork, especially during peak seasons. However due to the explosion of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) into the market, the conventional role has changed allowing the accountant to spend more time on analyzing financial statements instead of dealing with red tape thereby broadening the services accountants offer.
View Schools for this Career: 
         Related Careers
arrow Accounting Clerk
arrow Accounts Officer
arrow Actuary
arrow [ view all related careers ]

Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad
Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs Offered:
  • MS in Accounting
  • MSA: Taxation
  • MBA - Accounting
  • And more...



  Interests and Skills  
Certified General Accountants enjoy working with numbers and money. They are logical people with clear and concise thinking capacities, enjoy working both alone and in a team environment, posses the ability to communicate effectively with people and in writing and finally, like solve challenging financial and mathematical problems in innovative ways. Working with other people's money and finances requires confidentiality, accuracy and strict attention to details. Therefore, there is the potential for error and CGAs must take full responsiblity should any consequences occur. CGAs must have high ethical standards and work critically and objectively, abiding by the skills learned in school.

Accordingly, CGAs should be interested in computers and programming, constantly working on updating their skills to meet the rapidly changing programs. Most CGAs enjoy having clear, organized methods in their daily work routines and are generally analytical and practical people. Finally, some CGAs enjoy teaching and directing the activities of others.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Predict revenues and expenditures and submit reports to management
  • Direct activities of workers performing accounting and bookkeeping tasks
  • Adapt accounting and record-keeping functions to current technology of computerized accounting systems
  • Develop, maintain, and analyse budgets and prepare periodic reports comparing budgeted costs to actual costs
  • Report finances of establishment to management and advise management about resource utilization, tax strategies, and assumptions underlying budget forecasts
  • Examine and analyze records such as journal and ledger entries, bank statements, inventories, expenditures, tax returns and other accounting and financial records, documents and systems
  • Ensure financial recording accuracy and compliance with established accounting standards, procedures and internal controls
  • Plan, set up and administer accounting systems and prepare financial information for an individual, department, company or other establishment
  • Examine accounting records and prepare financial statements and reports
  • Develop and maintain cost finding, reporting and internal control procedures
  • Prepare income tax returns from accounting records
  • Analyze financial statements and reports and provide financial, business and tax advice
  • May act as a trustee in bankruptcy proceedings
  • May supervise articling students or another accountant
  • CGAs generally work in comfortable office settings. Hours of work are constantly changing depending on the organization, level of responsibility and time of the month. Longer hours are required during company budgeting time, month-end deadlines and the early spring tax season with year-end corporate work and personal tax returns. Accountants working in the public service or consulting firms are required to do a bit of travelling to client's offices. Otherwise, an average day will involve office desk work, computer work and interpersonal work dealing with clients.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • CGAs are usually employed in both the public and private sectors including businesses, government services, management consulting practices, corporate and personal tax preparation offices, banks, credit offices, public accounting offices, and educational institutions. CGAs are vital in all businesses and industries because they deal with all financial and money matters.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Becoming a Certified General Accountant is an excellent stepping stone for careers in government, business, public practice and academia. Numerous top business professionals and leaders are also CGAs and have moved on to become corporate controllers, chief financial officers and vice president of finance. Experienced CGAs may advance to senior management positions within their companies, open their own consulting and accounting firms and some may decide to impart their own knowledge and experience and teach at the postsecondary level. Industry CGAs may also get promoted to positions like controller or treasurer and become partners in the firms they work for. Also, government CGAs may rise into the role of internal auditors, budget officers, accounting managers, information systems managers or senior financial executives.

  Educational Paths  
Most accountant and auditor positions require at least a bachelors degree in accounting or a related field. Some employers prefer applicants with a masters degree in accounting, or with a masters degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting.

As of early 2003, based on recommendations made by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), 42 States and the District of Columbia required CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college courseworkan additional 30 hours beyond the usual 4-year bachelors degree. Another five StatesArizona, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, and Virginiahave adopted similar legislation that will become effective between 2004 and 2009. Colorado, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Vermont are the only States that do not require 150 semester hours.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs Offered:
  • MS in Accounting
  • MSA: Taxation
  • MBA - Accounting
  • And more...

San Joaquin Valley College

San Joaquin Valley College - A Private Junior College.

Programs Offered:
  • Certificate - Business Administration
  • Degree - Business Administration

Keiser University

Since 1977, Keiser University has provided quality student-centered, career-focused education. Keiser University Online offers degree programs online to prepare students for in-demand professions.

Programs Offered:
  • Associate of Arts in Accounting
  • Master of Business Administration, MBA - Accounting
  • Bachelor of Arts in Accounting

National Career College
Choosing a school and a new career path can be a very overwhelming process.
Programs Offered:
  • Business Management and Accounting

Saint John's University

St. John's is a Catholic Vincentian University that prepares students for personal and professional success in today's global society.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Science in Taxation

Northcentral University

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

Programs Offered:
  • Advanced Accounting - PhD in Bus. Admin.
  • Advanced Accounting - D.B.A.

Seton Hall University

Founded in 1856, Seton Hall is one of the country’s leading Catholic universities.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Science Professional Accounting
  • Master of Science in Accounting
  • Master of Business Administration – Accounting

Utica College

What They’re Known For

Founded in 1946 and located in the heart of central New York, Utica College is a regionally accredited, independent, private institution that features many of the advantages of a large university — such as undergraduate and graduate degree options, excellent academics, and outstanding faculty — with the intimacy and high degree of personal attention more closely associated with smaller private institutions.

Programs Offered:
  • Masters of Science in Financial Crime and Compliance Management
  • Financial Crime and Compliance Operations Certificate
  • Financial Crime Investigation Certificate

The University of Scranton

Since 1888, The University of Scranton has grounded its education in Catholic and Jesuit principles based on intellectual growth and integrity, all of which shape the online master’s and certificate programs.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Accountancy
  • MBA - Accounting

New England College

Discover the Difference a Community of Support Makes in Your Educational Journey. From Application to Graduation, the Support You Need to Achieve Your Goals. 100% Online.

Programs Offered:
  • AS in Accounting
  • BS in Accounting
  • BA in Business Administration Accounting

Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Oregon
University of OttawaYork University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Policy Statement | Site Map | Cities Site Map

Copyright 2003- 2017 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.