Anyone who has ever searched the internet for help preparing taxes or other financial services may have noticed that some professionals are advertised as accountants while others are listed as CPAs. There is a common misconception that the two are synonymous. In fact, CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant, and the key distinction between the two lies in the word certified. While all CPAs are accountants, not all accountants have met the certification requirements to become a CPA.
An accountant is, generally, anyone who provides bookkeeping services for a business. While accountants generally have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, a degree is not a requirement for someone to hold themselves out as an accountant in most states (although in Texas it is). To be a Certified Public Accountant, however, a person must meet the minimum requirements set by their state. In Texas, this means having at least a bachelor’s degree with 150 semester hours of college completed. CPAs must also take and pass the uniform CPA exam, a 14-hour test broken into four sections: Regulation, Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, and Financial Accounting and Reporting. While pass rates vary with each test administration, generally only around 50 percent of test-takers pass the CPA exam.
What CPAs Offer
The advantage of hiring a CPA is not only in knowing that they have met more rigorous professional requirements. CPAs are able to offer financial services that non-certified accountants do not. Accountants can only prepare compiled financial statements, while CPAs can offer audited or reviewed financial statements, which are required of public companies and beneficial even for small family-owned businesses seeking outside financing from investors or creditors.
You owe it to yourself and your business to have the advantage of a CPA with the training and skills necessary to provide a full suite of financial services. Sueann Porter CPA, PLLC, provides accounting services and other services with a friendly, familial touch to clients in Erath County and beyond. Contact us online or call 254-968-6112 to learn more.