This article is supposed to help those who are hesitating what career path is better to choose: CPA or accountant. These positions are similar but different to some extent as they both are concerned with the field of accounting but the duties, salary differ to a great extent.
You might hear that being a CPA is quite prestigious. This abbreviation that stands for a Certified Public Accountant (or an auditor) may guarantee you a successful career if you are willing to pass all the stages of the application process. What about a general accountant (or a bookkeeper)? The fewer responsibilities a specialty requires, the less it is in-demand. Bookkeeper’s job is less popular as it requires a lot of patience, attentiveness and scrupulous attitude. But let’s start from the beginning.
While every auditor is able to do the work a bookkeeper does, not every bookkeeper is doing such scope of work as a CPA can do. A bookkeeper does not necessarily has to meet as high standards as a CPA but his salary is lower and everyday duties are easier to fulfill. It is interesting that bookkeepers are even allowed to work for a particular company to run its business having no degree at all but in practice most of the accountants still have it.
As it was mentioned above, an accountant is also called a bookkeeper. Hence, one can make a conclusion about what are the basic duties of the non-certified accountant related to. Here is a short list of them:
- collecting the bank checks, day sheets;
- preparing payrolls, paychecks;
- recording business transactions;
- preparing financial statements, annual reports, etc.
When speaking about what does a CPA do on a daily basis, there are three main directions. Thee CPAs provide their clients with the services in the following areas of finance:
An audited financial statement is usually required for the big public companies that must be audited by an independent specialist who is a CPA. Only a CPA is allowed to audit a business in order to prepare an audited financial statement as he gets a license after passing a test conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
Since bookkeeper is working for a company, he is on the opposite side of the barricade.
Education cost and durability
Let’s talk about education because this is another crucial feature that differentiates bookkeeper’s and auditor’s positions. For both careers, education is determined based on its cost and durability.
To become a bookkeeper you need to graduate from a college or university having earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The same concerns the CPAs although they additionally have to pass a Uniform CPA examination and continue their professional education completing 40 hours of it every year.
CPA applicants are obligated to have 150 academic hours in accounting after obtaining a degree with a major in accounting. Unlike general accountants, CPAs are expected to have a master’s degree or MBA, in any case, it should be a five-year degree program while bachelor’s degree is less desired for this career path.
The Uniform CPA exam cost
This exam is known to be a very tough test. Only about 20 percent of exam-takers are capable of passing it. The time needed to go through all 4 sections may be determined by a person being tested but on average it takes from 3 months to 1 year. This process is quite complicated, the total testing time is 14 hours.
Now, what is a cost of the Uniform CPA examination? Every state has slight differences in exam requirements and fees but the whole process is administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (Here is a resource on the internet: NASBA). In total, the exam fee consists of the mandatory and optional fees as well as the fees for foreign candidates.
To register for the exam you need to pay an exam and application fee which are initial and obligatory investments without which you will not be able to make a CPA designation. The Uniform CPA Exam which is conducted by the AICPA (American Institute of includes 4 sections: Regulation (REG), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), and Audit (AUD). The first 2 cost $192 each and the fee for other 2 is $172 each. You are allowed to register for each section individually or at once. The application fee is determined by the state board and it may vary from $30 to $200. It is expected to pay $1000 for a mandatory fee.
As for optional fees, you do not necessarily have to take these particular services but most of the candidates take them to increase their chances to succeed in passing the exam. They usually include review courses that are intended to help candidates to prepare for the exam.
For candidates living and studying outside the USA, the cost for the exam may also include travel and accommodation cost as well as a foreign credential evaluation report which costs up to $300. This document is to determine whether you are eligible for the exam.
Another test required by some states is a self-study CPA ethics exam that costs around $130.
Once, you passed the Uniform CPA exam and fulfilled the minimal working experience, you become a CPA and have to pay an annual license fee to keep it active. The fee varies from $30 to a hundred of dollars.
In CPACatalog we are collecting information according to different financial professionals in wide areas in USA, and building customer relationships. And basically, the CPA license is what differs a general and a professional accountant. The CPAs are regulated by the state, so they have to undergo rigorous tests to get a certification in accounting. You might make a conclusion that becoming an auditor is challenging, both academically and financially. While to obtain that dreamed license the CPA has to possess 3 “E”: education, experience and examination, a bookkeeper needs only 1 “E”, the first one, and it is even not an obligatory item.