Longtime licensed profession makes sense of finances
California has been licensing certified public accountants (CPAs) since 1901. But what do they do, how can you become one, and why does state licensure matter?
Accounting as a profession has been around for thousands of years, since the concepts of counting, writing, and money first began in Mesopotamia. But the need to keep accurate track of finances never goes out of style. In fact, there are nearly 99,000 CPAs licensed in California—the largest group of CPAs in the nation—helping numerous individuals and organizations with various needs.
While the day-to-day responsibilities of a CPA will vary, typical duties include:
- Examining financial statements to ensure they are accurate and comply with generally accepted accounting principles.
- Computing taxes owed, preparing tax returns, and ensuring taxes are paid in the proper amount and on time.
- Inspecting accounting records and systems for efficiency and use of generally accepted accounting principles.
- Organizing and maintaining financial records.
- Assessing financial operations and recommending improvements to reduce costs and increase revenues.
For more than a century, the California Board of Accountancy (CBA) has licensed CPAs who meet the requirements under state law. The CBA also enforces professional standards by reviewing consumer complaints and conducting investigations of its licensees.
The requirements have changed over the decades, but to be licensed as a CPA in California today, applicants must:
- Pass the national Uniform CPA Examination.
- Complete a bachelor’s degree, including at least 150 semester units and other required coursework.
- Obtain 12 months of qualifying accounting experience.
- Pass the California Professional Ethics Exam.
The requirements to obtain a CPA license are high, but important to help ensure that licensees have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to perform their work. Becoming a CPA, however, can provide a person with numerous personal and professional benefits. According to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, here are the top five reasons to become a CPA:
- Prestige and respect.
- Career development.
- Career security.
- Job satisfaction.
- Money and benefits.