Cpa vs accountant: CPA vs Accountant: 5 Big Questions To Consider

Cpa vs accountant: CPA vs Accountant: 5 Big Questions To Consider

Cpa vs accountant

For example, daycare can be a considerable expense for young working families, and an on-site daycare could save thousands of dollars and dozens of hours in commuting each year. At the same time, some people dislike the bureaucracy that comes with larger organizations, and they’re happier at the end of the day if they have more leeway to pursue their own ideas. Presently, an entry-level private accountant can expect to make about $57,250 per year. Presently, an entry-level public accountant can expect to make about $57,750, per year. In addition, CPAs are considered fiduciaries with a legal duty and power to act on behalf of, and in the best interest of, their clients. Each state’s board of accountancy determines the laws and rules for their specific state, so be sure to check your state’s requirements.

  • Whether it is better for you to pursue CPA certification and licensure is a question that only you can answer.
  • Select your program and we’ll help guide you through important information as you prepare for the application process.
  • CPAs are required to take continuing education classes throughout their careers to stay up-to-date on accounting-related issues and changes.
  • In addition, CPAs are considered fiduciaries with a legal duty and power to act on behalf of, and in the best interest of, their clients.

The CPA vs. accountant contrast becomes clearer when you begin to explore job opportunities. We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team. Mary Girsch-Bock is the expert on accounting software and payroll software for The Ascent.

The Difference Between Accountant and CPA

The Big 4 accounting firms are good examples of public accounting firms where an entry-level CPA could expect to make a higher-than-average starting salary. A Certified Public Accountant is a professional designation earned after completing education requirements, working in the accounting field, and passing an examination. 1Most state boards of accountancy require 150 credit hours of post-secondary education in order to sit for the CPA exam. As this program is less than 150 credit hours, this program alone does not meet the minimum coursework requirements to sit for the CPA exam.

Cpa vs accountant

This range includes candidates who have an average amount of experience, have the necessary skills to meet job requirements, and whose role may be of average complexity or in an industry where competition for talent is moderate. A comprehensive test of business, tax, auditing, and general accounting skills must be passed after graduation and a year of experience under the supervision of a CPA. CPAs are required to take continuing education classes throughout their careers to stay up-to-date on accounting-related issues and changes.

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While an accountant might be able to service your basic needs, the government recognizes a CPA as a credible expert in accounting and as a better qualified professional than an accountant to perform accounting duties. In some instances, accountants also function as financial advisors, taking on the role of fiduciaries to make financial decisions on behalf of clients. Accountants are usually responsible for creating departmental and organizational budgets. Because staff accountants are familiar with company operations, preparing a budget is a natural extension of their experience and expertise.

Cpa vs accountant

An accountant is typically a professional who has earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. A CPA, or Certified Public Accountant, is a professional who has earned their CPA license through a combination of education, experience and examination. With many Baby Boomers retiring and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act enforcing higher standards for public corporate accounting, there is currently a shortage of experienced accounting professionals.


Select your program and we’ll help guide you through important information as you prepare for the application process. Small business owners should understand that, while they may not always need a CPA, there will be times when they do. As fiduciaries, CPAs are obligated and empowered to act on behalf of and in the best interest of their clients.

  • First, many CPAs are more knowledgeable in tax codes as a result of the rigorous CPA licensing examination and continuing education requirements.
  • That’s because it depends upon what career opportunities you’re interested in pursuing.
  • Let’s take a look at the estimated salaries for general private accounting work.
  • The responsibilities of unlicensed accountants are similar to those of CPAs, but limited in some areas by comparison.
  • All states require CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework to be licensed and successfully pass the 4-part Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
  • If you’ve thought about pursuing a career in accounting, you’ve most likely considered all the different roles and responsibilities involved in an accounting career and wondered about the differences between an accountant and a CPA.

Accountants and CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) both are essential for business functions, and both roles have an important distinction. All CPAs are accountants, however not all accountants are CPAs—that’s because factors such as licensing, their function, skills, and more differ them. The BLS projects that jobs for all accountants and auditors will grow by 7% by 2030. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), globalization, a growing economy, and a complex tax and regulatory environment are expected to continue to lead to strong demand for accountants and auditors. CPAs must also perform continuing education on a yearly basis in order to maintain their knowledge of best-practice accounting standards. Both of these paths are viable long-term career options for aspiring accounting professionals.

CPA or Accountant: What’s the difference?

Your salary package will vary depending on the type of accounting you choose, the field or industry you work in, your location, and your experience level. By choosing wisely for yourself, you can enjoy a satisfying and prosperous career as a CPA. This range includes candidates who have more experience than almost all of their peers, have among the highest level of expertise and/or certification(s), and whose role may be highly complex or exist within a highly competitive realm. Unfortunately, the Department of Labor does not distinguish between accountants with a CPA certification and those without. It also does not make any distinction between the many specific on-the-job titles an accountant might hold, and it does not include self-employed income.

CPA vs. Accountant: Which Role Will Be in Higher Demand in the Future?

However, many small business owners find themselves in a bind when they try to prepare business taxes for the first time. A CPA is the best person to use when it comes to preparing taxes since they have familiarity with complex tax laws that accountants generally lack. With the widespread use of accounting software, you don’t need a CPA to run financial statements.

Businesses, nonprofits, and governments will always need accounting services, and computers won’t be able to replace experienced CPAs any time soon. Therefore, the CPA credential offers a higher level of job security to accountants during a period of otherwise uncertainty. Because CPAs are required to take rigorous licensing exams and attend continuing education courses, they are more knowledgeable about tax laws and codes. CPAs can also represent clients before the IRS if audit support is required, whereas non-CPA accountants cannot.

Depending on the company, accountants may also supervise bookkeepers or accounting clerks and handle payroll. Living on campus is all about you getting the whole academic experience—from getting to class and extracurricular activities, late-night study sessions, creating new meaningful friendships, and learning more about yourself. While BAU does not offer its own on-campus housing, we have established relationships with apartments in the D.C. One thing is guaranteed, you will not miss a single thing on-campus housing offers. While CPAs and accountants perform similar tasks, there are multiple differences in the functions they perform.

The lowest 10% of accountants earned less than $44,480, and the highest 10% earned more than $124,450. CPA salary data from the Department of Labor shows that the average accountant’s salary in the U.S. is $71,550—and if you hold the CPA certification, you are likely to make 10-15% more than a non-CPA. Most audits are performed by CPAs, although accountants can sometimes perform in-house audits. However, external audits or auditing of public companies are always handled by a CPA. CPAs acquire a skill set that builds on accounting capabilities and enhances their potential as the most highly qualified and knowledgeable accountants. CPAs must possess abilities in accounting and business concepts, research, analytics, problem-solving, communication, project management, and ethical standards.

Assurance services or public accounting are the principal services provided by CPAs. In fact, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and CPA licensure data, only about 50% of accountants in the United States are actively licensed CPAs. This guide will help you differentiate between a CPA and an accountant, as well as answer pressing questions about how these designations impact an accountant’s career path. For professionals who want to enter the accounting field, it’s common to wonder what the difference is between an accountant and a CPA. While it may seem that people use these terms interchangeably, there are distinctions between these professionals. There are a few more factors to consider when determining or projecting a CPA salary.

One of the significant differences between accountants vs. CPAs is that there is no license required to become an accountant; however, to become a Professional CPA, you need to get the license. Accounting is the process of recording, keeping, and reporting the financial affairs of an organization, which shows the company’s clear financial position. The CPA, on the other hand, is the title given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to individuals with education or experience in accounting when they pass the CPA examination.