What Does a Certified Public Accountant Do? A Complete Guide

Accounting on a tablet computer, close-up

Becoming an accountant adds up. Almost 1.4 million Americans work as accountants. It is a steady career path that allows a person to earn a substantial amount of money. 

Yet many people hesitate before becoming an accountant. They have a lot of questions about what they do. 

What exactly is a Certified Public Accountant? What does a Certified Public Accountant do? How do they get educated and gain experience? 

Answer these questions and you can decide if becoming or hiring an accountant is the right move for you. Here is your quick Certified Public Accountant guide. 

What Is a Certified Public Accountant? 

An accountant handles math tasks for a business. They help the company maintain its books and plan operations based on financial predictions. 

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is an accountant with additional training. As their name suggests, they receive certification from a state board. This means that they must pass a test, meet education requirements, and abide by ethical codes. 

Their certification lets them perform different tasks than a standard accountant. Many of them work for governments and non-profit organizations. They can serve in an advisory capacity, talking about the impact of an organization on the public. 

What Are the Different Roles of a CPA? 

A CPA can serve in roles beyond being a mere accountant or advisor. Many of them handle payroll operations. 

They work with a team on making sure that every employee is paid on time. They deduct payroll taxes, insurance, and retirement from regular paychecks.

If they work for a company that has stocks, they may help with stock options. They also track profit-sharing disbursements, even in companies without stocks.

A CPA can serve as an archivist. They maintain the financial records and make sure they are accessible to important people. This is a crucial role during tax season. 

Many CPAs work as tax filers. They memorize IRS guidelines and fulfill them down to the letter. They ensure that a company does not have to pay penalties or go through audits. 

Some companies visit pages like www.taxfyle.com/tax-preparation-outsourcing and outsource their taxes to an accountant. Someone can specialize in tax filing and handle these requests from corporations. 

What Does a Certified Public Accountant Do? 

Each CPA is different, meaning it is hard to describe what exactly they do. Someone may serve multiple roles within an organization. They may work hourly, or they may be a full-time employee. 

In general, a CPA will spend most of their time sorting through documents. Toward the start of the year, they will look at a company’s financial portfolio.

They will evaluate the taxes the company needs to pay. They can also determine if the company can expect to receive any money from the government.

Their review of documents helps with more than taxes. They can evaluate if a company is staying within the boundaries of the law.

They can also look at individual employees. The CPA can determine if someone is evading taxes or embezzling money from the company. 

CPAs also spend a lot of time running calculations. They use calculators and formulas, but they rely substantially on their brainpower. 

A CPA does not work alone. They have meetings with a company’s board of directors and lawyers. They can act as experts during legal proceedings, explaining financial processes. 

How Does a CPA Get Their Education? 

All CPAs have a college education. They get a four-year degree from a college or university. It does not matter if the college is public or private, though many public schools offer programs for CPAs. 

Most students looking to become accountants major in finance. They may have minors in mathematics, which will help them with calculations. 

While they are in school, students take jobs related to accounting. They may work inside an actual accounting firm. They may shadow as they do their work, and they may learn how to organize documents. 

Some students take a different approach. They work in a bank, financial services company, or tax firm. This allows them to specialize in a particular line of work. 

Many students go on to get a master’s degree. Some colleges offer master’s programs in accounting, though some people pursue a mathematics course. 

Anyone who wants to become a CPA must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. Some classes out there help the student prepare for this test. 

Each state has its own regulatory body for accountants. Most of them have minimum education requirements that include ongoing education. CPAs must take classes to update their skills and learn about new rules. 

How Does a CPA Build Experience?

Taking a position during college helps a CPA build experience. After they are done with their education, many of them attain a position as an accountant. They follow Certified Public Accountant hiring tips like using connections to get jobs. 

A new Certified Public Accountant hire works alongside more experienced accountants. This lets them shadow the accountant and learn from their skills. They help with less significant tasks like organization and communications. 

Most accountants stay within the company they were first hired in. As they build a rapport with company managers, they take on more responsibilities. 

Many CPAs have long work weeks, especially during tax season. This helps them build skills in very little time. But it can lead to resignations if the company culture is not respectful to them. 

Get the Best Accountant 

People have a lot of questions about Certified Public Accountants. Who are they? They are educated professionals who help a company with its finances. 

What does a Certified Public Accountant do? They spend much of their time investigating documents. They run calculations to make sure the books are correct and they look into allegations of malfeasance. 

How do they get educated? Most follow a traditional path through college. They study for an exam and receive certification from a state board. 

Hiring an accountant can bolster your company’s finances. Find out other ways by following our blog’s coverage.