WHAT IS A CPA?
If you asked the general public “What is a CPA?” you’d likely receive various responses related to tax preparation when, in actuality, a CPA is so much more than that.
A CPA is a highly educated, skilled, and respected individual with expertise spanning across many financial and accounting areas. These areas can include financial planning, taxation, auditing and assurance, consulting, forensic accounting, business valuation, government accounting, non-profit accounting, and company management. The depth of knowledge and breadth of skills which CPAs possess make them invaluable to companies of all sizes. Beyond that, CPAs are often regarded by other professionals as moral, ethical individuals who are trusted advisors serving the public interest. Lastly, a CPA has passed the regulated CPA exam and has met the state mandated work and education requirements, a designation separating CPAs from unlicensed accountants.
WHY BE A CPA?
Becoming a CPA is no small feat. It requires immense knowledge and abilities. The skills required today now exceed comprehension of accounting codification and Microsoft Excel. As the world economy becomes increasingly more complex, CPAs are asked to provide more and more expertise and guidance on a wide range of topics from IT to technology, financial planning, and business deals. These areas require additional knowledge and even greater skills.
Beyond vast understanding, CPAs are increasingly required to have competent soft skills. The days of sitting quietly behind a computer are long gone. Being a CPA requires confidence, interpersonal skills, sound professional skepticism and judgement, the ability to analyze and conclude quickly and comfortably, and more. This is all to say that being a CPA is an evolving field—one that is both challenging and exciting. Each day is different from the one before and provides little opportunity for the job to become ‘boring.’
A specialty needed by all companies and organizations, a CPA license sets you apart as a trained expert in accounting. Getting your license is a rigorous but rewarding process requiring ample preparation and testing. Due to that rigor, becoming a licensed CPA is one of the best ways to stand out to potential employers. It shows commitment to the accounting profession, and often paves the way for future leadership and management positions.
What’s more, the career path for a CPA can be as versatile and exciting as you want it to be! Financial Analyst at Apple? Manager of International Finance at ESPN? CFO for the Carolina Panthers? A CPA license can get you there.
As a CPA, you are a part of an elite class of professionals that have a very specific, yet desired skill set. This lends itself to higher paying jobs. CPAs, on average, make 10-15% more than unlicensed accountants and often start at a higher salary and receive higher pay increases over time while unlicensed CPAs tend to reach a ceiling. CPAs can also leverage the wide range of job opportunities available to them to obtain higher salaries than other accounting and finance professionals.
MAKE AN IMPACT
The financial world, as it operates, depends on CPAs to be the regulators and assurance providers that companies are operating fairly and ethically. CPAs are the supporting infrastructure for regulated competition and creating economic confidence. As role models for our community, it is our responsibility to be leaders and problem solvers. This perception creates a profession and career that goes way beyond a paycheck.
We work every day to make a difference for our clients and our communities. Not many professionals can say that.
Being a CPA affords not only great job stability, but flexibility. As businesses diversify and become increasingly complex, CPAs are needed more than ever. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, predicted job growth for CPAs through 2026 is faster than the average 10% or 140,000 new jobs. The increased demand for the technical and technological skills held by CPAs means they are crucial for all forms and sizes of businesses and can work for non-profits, government, private companies, public accounting firms, or consulting firms. You’ll never be without a job, or another exciting opportunity waiting.
RESPECT & PRESTIGE/PRIDE
As CPAs we are in the business of client service. Whether the client is a young family or a large corporation, we work diligently to provide expertise to our clients for them to prosper within the regulated boundaries established by the accounting profession. In that capacity, CPAs are looked to as leaders and role models for other professionals; and rightly so. To earn the designation of CPA, one’s ethics, character, and judgement are extensively tested. CPAs must act without bias, with an inclusive mindset, with care for everyone, and with respect to differences. CPAs exemplify how business should be conducted in the modern world—it’s an exciting place to be!
A CPA license allows for a great degree of professional freedom throughout a career. CPAs have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to provide professional services independently as consultants or to serve clients as a firm founder. The widespread skills possessed by CPAs and the myriad of opportunities available to them create the possibility for CPAs to choose how and where they work.