What exactly is a CPA, and what does one do?

CPA stands for "Certified Public Accountant." A CPA is a trusted financial advisor whose training and experience helps him interpret an individual's or organization's economic history, ultimately providing him with the ability to help his clients meet their financial goals. A CPA typically oversees his clients' financial strategies and procedures, providing numerous specialized services along the way, such as auditing, tax preparation, financial planning, and management consulting.

What is the difference between CPAs and accountants?

All CPAs are accountants by trade, but not all accountants have received the certification necessary to be a CPA. The main differences between CPAs and uncertified accountants are education and experience. To become a CPA, an accountant must fulfill all of the requirements, including education and experience requirements and an arduous exam. Only the finest accountants are capable of receiving CPA status.

Why is hiring a CPA important?

Known as the "language of business," accounting measures, records, conveys, and interprets information about an organization's operations and finances. When interpreted by qualified CPAs, this financial information helps executives make informed business decisions to lead their organization toward further success by creating a financial "timeline" which serves as a tool for forecasting the company's future economic cycles.

How does public accounting differ from corporate accounting?

In public accounting, a CPA owns or works for a firm which provides accounting services such as audits, assurance services, tax preparation, management consulting, or financial planning to various individuals and organizations. These days, a CPA can also use his skills in new specialties, such as forensic accounting and information security.

Corporate accounting, on the other hand, is often called "managerial" or "private" accounting because the CPA is working only for one business enterprise as an employee of that company. Successful corporate accounting CPAs who help their company prosper often advance to a leadership position within the company, such as Controller or CFO.