Certified Public Accountant

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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.
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Grand Canyon University
Do you have entrepreneurial visions to advance your career in the business world? Learn about the options available at GCU.
Programs Offered:
  • B.S. in Accounting
  • M.S. in Accounting
  • M.B.A.: Accounting



  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

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Grand Canyon University
Why earn your degree at Grand Canyon University? GCU is a regionally accredited university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in Business, Nursing, Psychology, Education & more. Apply today!
Programs Offered:
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  • M.S. in Accounting
  • M.B.A.: Accounting

Walden University
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Purdue University Global


World-Class Education Tailored for Working Adults

Building on Purdue's mission to provide greater access to affordable, world-class education, Purdue University Globaldelivers a fully personalized online experience tailored for working adults.

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American InterContinental University Online

You’re serious about success. With your busy schedule and the desire to move your career forward, you can earn an accredited associate, bachelors or master’s degree at a pace that works for you anywhere, anytime, 24/7.

At AIU, the Serious U, you can get started to get ahead.

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended these programs, go to: www.aiuniv.edu/disclosures

Programs Offered:
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Northcentral University
  • Northcentral University was founded in 1996 to provide working professionals around the world with unprecedented access to richly engaging, professionally relevant, and academically-rigorous education from a U.S. university.
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  • Advanced Accounting - PhD in Bus. Admin.
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National Career College
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