For the Public
CPA = Certified Public Accountant.
Certified means that they have obtained a license issued by the state which can only be awarded after completing a rigorous academic program, a very difficult exam, and supervised work experience.
Public means that they must ensure the public trust, and they take that responsibility seriously. CPAs are the only professionals who may perform assurance work (i.e. audit, attestation) which investors, businesses, governments, nonprofits and individuals can rely on to be reliable and independent.
Accountant. Accounting is often called the "language of business" because it deals with interpreting and communicating information about a company's operations and finances. Accounting is extremely important to any company because the financial information allows executives to make informed business decisions.
In addition to traditional audit services, such as examining the annual reports of public companies, exciting niche areas of assurance have increased the demand for the expertise of CPAs.
Individuals, businesses, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies need CPAs to offer objective advice and assistance in both financial and strategic areas.
Information Technology (IT) Services
Exploding IT growth has created huge opportunities for CPAs with strong computer skills to design and implement advanced systems to fit an organization's needs.
Also known as investigative accounting or fraud auditing, forensic accounting digs below accounting records, searching for evidence of criminal misconduct.
With increasing resources focused on environmental issues, these CPAs conduct compliance audits and design preventive systems to ensure compliance.
In today's global economy, CPAs with an understanding and mastery of international trade laws and regulations are in great demand.
Tax and Financial Planning
CPAs help individuals and companies with financial planning, investments, taxes, mergers and acquisitions, and much more.
CPA vs Accountant: What's the Difference?
Not all accountants can call themselves CPAs. A CPA must adhere to strict professional and technical requirements. Here are some important facts to consider when you are choosing a financial professional.
CPA is a certified public accountant licensed by each state. The public can verify a CPA license here.
To be awarded a CPA license, one must meet rigorous education requirements, take a difficult Uniform CPA exam, and complete supervised experience requirements in the workplace. These vary slightly be state but DC rules are below.
- Education: To be eligible to sit for the CPA exam, one must complete 150 hours of education. This is typically accomplished via a master’s degree or a bachelors degree and 30 additional hours of education tailored to a candidates intended career path.
- Exam: The Uniform CPA exam is a four-part, 16 hour examination administered by state boards of accountancy. The exam is periodically redesigned to maintain relevancy in a changing world, and covers many different aspects of accounting, auditing, tax and other technical topics. The exam has an overall pass rate of 50%. A candidate is able to retake parts but must pass all four parts within an 18 month window.
- Experience: Prior to being granted a CPA license, a candidate must perform relevant work supervised by a licensed CPA for approximately 2,000 hours, or one year of full time work.
- Continuing Education: Once licensed, CPAs must maintain their competency through continuing education for the remainder of their professional life. Most states require around 40 hours of continuing education each year, including two hours of Ethics every year.
- Ethics: In addition to education and licensing requirements, members of the GWSCPA are bound by a strict code of professional ethics which requires competence, objectivity, integrity and independence.
Looking for a CPA or other Financial Services?
GWSCPA Firm and Organizational Members are a great place to start. As a Firm or Organizational Member, these companies have invested in ensuring their teams are technically savvy, well connected and adhere to strict ethical standards of our membership.