Career Development

CPA Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Learn more about what it takes to succeed as a CPA, the skills you'll need to become one, and what you can expect on the job.

Certified public accountants (CPAs) are accountants who have met specific requirements for education, experience, and examination. They are licensed by the state in which they practice and must adhere to a strict code of ethics.

CPAs are often called upon to provide expert advice on a wide range of financial matters. They commonly work with individuals, businesses and other organizations to help them make financial decisions.

CPA Job Duties

CPAs have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Preparing tax returns for individuals or businesses by researching tax laws and regulations
  • Preparing monthly financial statements and forecasts for clients
  • Providing advice on financial matters such as investments, taxes, retirement planning, and estate planning
  • Analyzing data and making recommendations based on findings
  • Preparing tax returns for individuals or businesses according to federal laws and regulations
  • Preparing tax returns for individuals or businesses by researching tax laws and regulations
  • Preparing reports on current tax laws to ensure compliance with new legislation
  • Advising clients on how to improve their financial situation to meet long-term goals
  • Counseling clients on financial issues such as debt management, budgeting, and savings planning

CPA Salary & Outlook

The salary of a CPA can vary depending on a number of factors, including their level of education, years of experience, and the type of work they do. CPAs who work for public accounting firms typically earn more than those who work in other industries.

  • Median Annual Salary: $73,500 ($35.34/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of certified public accountants is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Employment growth will be driven by demand for services from businesses, which will need help with tax planning and compliance. However, automation may limit the number of jobs for accountants in some fields, such as auditing.

CPA Job Requirements

CPAs must meet stringent requirements in order to become certified. These requirements include:

Education: To work as a CPA, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Some CPA employers prefer that you have a master’s degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Many CPA students take undergraduate courses in accounting, business, auditing, taxation and finance.

Training & Experience: CPA firms and public accounting agencies provide on-the-job training to newly hired accountants. The training programs are designed to teach new hires the specific processes and procedures the firm employs. Accountants who work in public accounting, consulting or industry may receive combined on-the-job and classroom training if they work in a field they are unfamiliar with.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications allow you to prove your skills and qualifications to current and potential employers. All states have some kind of certification requirement for public accountants, although the exact requirements vary.

CPA Skills

CPAs need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information to others. As a CPA, you use communication skills to interact with clients, explain financial information and answer questions. You also use communication skills to collaborate with other professionals, such as accountants, lawyers and bankers.

Business knowledge: CPA firms often specialize in a specific industry, such as healthcare or finance. Having business knowledge can help you understand the financial needs of a business and how to create a plan that meets those needs. Business knowledge can also help you understand the legal aspects of business transactions.

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to analyze a situation and make a decision based on the information you have. As a CPA, you may be required to make important decisions regarding your clients’ finances. Critical thinking can help you make the best decision for your client.

Organization: As a CPA, you may be responsible for managing multiple projects at once. Organization skills can help you prioritize tasks and keep track of important information. Organization skills can also help you manage your time effectively.

Conflict resolution: Conflict resolution is the ability to help two parties come to an agreement. This is an important skill for CPAs because they often work with clients who have different opinions about their finances. For example, a business owner may want to invest in a new technology system while an employee may believe the company should keep its current system. The CPA can help the two parties come to an agreement about the best financial decision for the company.

CPA Work Environment

CPAs work in a variety of settings, including public accounting firms, corporations, government, and not-for-profit organizations. The work environment for CPAs can be very demanding, with long hours and high expectations. CPAs often work on teams and must be able to collaborate with other professionals. They must also be able to work independently and be able to manage their time effectively.

CPA Trends

Here are three trends influencing how CPAs work. CPAs will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More Professionals Will Focus on Technical Skills

As technology becomes more complex, businesses are increasingly looking for professionals who have expertise in specific technical skills. This is especially true for accounting firms, which are looking for CPAs who can help them stay competitive and keep up with the latest trends in technology.

CPAs can stay ahead of the curve by focusing on developing their technical skills. This may include learning how to use specific software programs or becoming familiar with new accounting methods.

The Expansion of the Blockchain Across Industries

The blockchain is a distributed database that allows for secure, transparent and tamper-proof transactions. It has already been adopted by a number of industries, such as finance and healthcare, and is expected to continue expanding across other industries.

As the blockchain becomes more popular, CPAs will need to understand how it works and how it can be used to streamline transactions within their industry. They will also need to be aware of the potential risks and challenges associated with the blockchain in order to mitigate them.

The Emergence of Advanced Tax Planning

As the world becomes increasingly complex, so too does the field of taxation. This has led to a rise in the demand for advanced tax planning services, which is a niche that CPA professionals can capitalize on.

By developing expertise in this area, CPA professionals can provide valuable services to businesses and individuals who are looking for ways to reduce their tax burden. In addition, this trend is likely to continue in the future, as the complexity of the tax code is only likely to increase.

How to Become a CPA

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. CPAs can work in many different industries and hold a variety of jobs. Some CPAs work as controllers, chief financial officers, or other executive-level positions. Many work as managers in public accounting or tax firms. Others work as consultants, educators, or researchers.

The best way to become a CPA is to meet the requirements set by your state board of accountancy. These vary by state but typically include passing the Uniform CPA Examination, completing a certain number of credit hours of accounting education, and meeting experience requirements.

CPAs must also abide by the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, which requires members to maintain high standards of professional conduct.


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