hiring an accountant for our small charitable organization

What Makes A CPA Different?

If you are looking for someone to help with your accounting, reporting, and tax filing, you might be thinking about working with a local accounting firm or possibly retaining the services of a CPA. However, have you ever really understood what makes that CPA designation so important? Before you choose who to trust with your accounting records and reporting, you should understand what sets a CPA apart from the rest of the industry. Here's a look at what you need to know.

Extensive Education

In most states, a CPA candidate must have at least 120 hours of post-secondary education before they can take the CPA exams. That's equivalent to a Bachelor's degree level of education. However, in most states, candidates must complete 150 hours of education before they can actually obtain their CPA license. Passing the exams is the first step, but licensure is required to use the CPA designation. So, if you work with a CPA, you can be confident that they have completed an education equivalent to a Master's degree level.

Not only that but CPAs are also required to maintain a certain level of continuing education credits to maintain their license. Each state's continuing education levels are set independently, but CPAs must meet those requirements during each license term in order to maintain their licensure status.

Rigorous Testing

The testing process to obtain a CPA designation is extensive and rigorous. Candidates must be able to show a thorough, practical understanding of the concepts tested before they can pass. There are four main sections of the CPA exam, and each one must be taken during its own session because each is lengthy. Testing time is designated at four hours per section. You can be confident that anyone with a CPA designation has been through and successfully completed this challenging exam process.

Significant Investment

Obtaining a CPA designation isn't something that can be undertaken lightly. In fact, it is a costly process. Not only do you incur the costs of the education, but you'll also have a registration fee and exam fee associated with each section of the CPA exam. In most states, there's a significant application fee for the license itself, and then the ongoing costs for continuing education and licensing renewals. That means that any CPA you consider working with is committed to their craft because they've invested a lot in that designation over the years.

These are some of the most important things to understand about what sets a CPA apart in the accounting industry. Consider these elements when you're deciding who you need to hire. Contact a CPA such as Harold C Ward, Jr., CPA, PC to learn more.