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Certified Public Accountant CPA

Career Overview

Public accountants are trained as generalists, finding themselves in jobs related to a broad range of accounting and consultation functions, including advice on tax preparation.  Clients might be non-profit organizations or corporations, governmental entities or individuals.  CPAs are public accountants who have passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination and have met any additional state educational and test requirements.

CPAs are the only accountants licensed to attest to the acceptability of financial audits or financial statements contained in the annual reports of public companies.  They are the only accountants that can file a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Specifically, CPAs attest to the reasonableness of disclosures, absence of material misstatement, and adherence to the applicable generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in financial reports to which they affix their signatures.


All states require a bachelors degree with a certain number of academic credits in business administration and accounting; some require an additional year of study.  States may have their own licensing exam in addition to the exam utilized nationally.  The requirement for an additional year of study in order to qualify for CPA status has led many schools to develop masters programs that incorporate all CPA educational requirements.

Current Employment

According to the U.S. Department of Labor there were 1.3 million accountants working in 2006.  One estimate puts the number of CPAs at about 500,000. 

Job Outlook

For accountants in general job growth is expected to be very strong, 18% over the decade 2006 - 2016.  The expansion of job opportunities for CPAs will be even stronger than that, as more stringent accounting requirements are set forth for businesses, especially for banks and investment houses.

Salary Range

Median Salary $57,806

Source:  Payscale.com

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