What does a CPA do?

Learn all about CPA duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a CPA.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a professional who provides accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting services to businesses and individuals.

CPA job duties include:

  • Act as an advisor to clients on tax matters
  • Assist clients in the preparation of their tax returns
  • Represent clients before the IRS and other tax authorities
  • Conduct audits of financial statements
  • Review client financial statements for accuracy
  • Identify opportunities for clients to minimize their tax liability
  • Prepare and file tax returns on behalf of clients
  • Manage and oversee the work of junior accountants
  • Stay up-to-date on changes in tax law

CPA Job Requirements

A CPA is a Certified Public Accountant. In order to become a CPA, one must first earn a bachelor's degree in accounting from an accredited college or university. Once the degree is obtained, the individual must then pass the Uniform CPA Examination. After passing the exam, the CPA must meet all requirements for licensure, which vary by state. Most states require CPAs to complete continuing education credits on a yearly basis in order to maintain their license. Many CPAs also choose to become members of professional organizations such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

CPA Skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Profit and loss analysis
  • Auditing
  • Budgeting
  • Cost accounting
  • Financial analysis
  • Finance
  • Forecasting
  • Income tax preparation
  • Management accounting
  • Payroll
  • QuickBooks

Related: Top CPA Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a CPA

There are many steps to becoming a CPA. The most important step is to pass the Uniform CPA Examination, which is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Once you have passed the exam, you will need to meet the requirements of your state's Board of Accountancy. Each state has different requirements, but they generally include completing a certain number of hours of accounting experience and passing an ethics exam. Once you have met all the requirements, you will be able to apply for your CPA license.

The best way to prepare for the Uniform CPA Examination is to get a bachelor's degree in accounting from a college or university that has been accredited by the AICPA. There are also many review courses available to help you prepare for the exam.

Once you have passed the exam and met the requirements of your state's Board of Accountancy, you will be able to start your own accounting practice or become employed by an accounting firm.

Related: CPA Resume Example

Related: CPA Interview Questions (With Example Answers)