The various roles that a CPA can fill in an accounting career are briefly described in this section. These roles may transfer into any of a number of career opportunities that may or may not have accounting as the key element.

CPA as a Public Accountant

The independent certified public accountant examines the adequacy of a company’s information system as a basis for expressing a professional opinion about the fairness of its financial statement presentations. The CPA also assists clients in such areas as financial planning, financial statement preparation, development of accounting information systems, securing of financing and business counseling. The public accountant is likely to be self-employed and operating as an independent contractor who is engaged by many different clients. He or she may also be employed by a CPA firm.

CPA as a Tax Advisor

Certified Public Accountants provide tax planning and advice, prepare tax returns, represent clients before governmental agencies, and provide a variety of other necessary services in assisting firms and individuals to comply with a multitude of tax-related requirements.

CPA and Management Advisory Service

CPAs are frequently engaged to provide objective advice on a variety of problems in private firms and government. These problems involve, among others, developing and implementing manual and computerized information and control systems, production and marketing systems, feasibility studies and impact reports.

CPA as a Management Accountant

Professional accountants have responsible positions in private industry. As chief financial officers, controllers, chief accountants or internal auditors, these accountants have major responsibilities for developing, producing and analyzing data useful for business decisions and reporting to interested parties within and outside the business entity. Many of these professional accountants also obtain the CMA (Certificate in Management Accounting).

CPA and Government and Institution Accounting

All levels of government– federal, state and local– employ professional accountants in great numbers and for many different types of services. In addition, there exist many not-for-profit organizations that require accountants to provide specialized financial data for various purposes.

CPA as an Accounting Educator

Highly skilled men and women are continually needed to staff the accounting faculties of the nation’s business schools and programs of professional accounting. Graduate studies at the doctoral level prepare students as professional level accountants to serve as educators, researchers, and administrators.