20+ Differences Between CPA And Accountant (Explained)

Both accounting and the Certified Public Accountant designation are critical to running a successful company, although they mean somewhat different things.

If you’re at the point where you need help managing your company’s finances but aren’t sure whether to employ an accountant or a certified public accountant (CPA), familiarizing yourself with the fundamental distinctions between the two can help you make the best option.

Comparison Between Cpa And Accountants

RegulationBecause of the demanding nature of the CPA licensure test and the requirements for ongoing education, many CPAs have a deeper understanding of tax rules. To provide just one example, a CPA is authorized to assist clients before the IRS, but a regular accountant is not. This is an essential distinction.It is possible for accountants who do not have a CPA certification to file accurate tax returns; nonetheless, a CPA offers customers significant benefits that non-CPA accountants cannot deliver.
AttestationTo be eligible to provide attestation services, you are required to have a CPA license that is not only current but also in good standing at all times. Only then will you be considered qualified?It is impossible for the accountant to provide attestation services independently on the client’s behalf.
LicensingGetting the relevant license to start working as a Certified Public Accountant is required first. This must be done before commencing employment (CPA).Acquiring a license of any type is not required to engage in professional activities related to the field of accounting.
StandingCertified Public Accountants are the only taxpayer representatives who are permitted to act before the Internal Revenue Service (Internal Revenue Services)According to the Internal Revenue Service, the accountant is not a reputable source of information (Internal Revenue Services).
CostA price that is considerably higher than what is commonly anticipated to be paid for the item in questionInexpensive as compared to the prices of the services offered by certified public accountants (CPAs).
comparison between cpa and accountants

Major Differences Between Cpa And Accountants

Who exactly is a CPA?

CPAs are state-licensed accountants. CPA qualifications vary by state, including education, experience, and passing the CPA test. AICPA administers the Uniform CPA test, which comprises four sections: Regulation, Financial Accounting, Business Environment, and Auditing.

Many organizations believe a CPA represents an accountant’s dedication to high standards. Not all accountants are CPAs.

Key Differences: CPA

  • Two of the requirements that must be completed to be considered for this position are evidence of having passed the Certified Public Accountant test.
  • As well as a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  • It gives direction and a complete view of the organization’s financial picture. 
  • Additionally, in many situations, it provides a more in-depth grasp of the tax law relevant to the circumstance currently being discussed.
  • You have to be ready to produce reports outlining audits of the business and reports revealing assessments of the company’s operations.
  • Can represent a client in a legal case and function as an advocate on the client’s behalf, acting as the client’s representative in the procedure.
features of cpa

Who exactly is an Accountant?

Accounting, in its most basic form, refers to the act of keeping track of and reporting financial data.

While it is common for accountants to have degrees in accounting or a related field, anybody who performs accounting responsibilities might call themselves accountant accountants who haven’t earned their credentials and may handle bookkeeping, general accounting, and even certain tax wals. However, any accountant with even rudimentary education and experience can do various of tasks.

Key Differences: Accountant

  • Requires a bachelor’s degree, ideally in accounting; however, this is not usually the case. Requires a master’s degree; this is not always the case. 
  • A bachelor’s degree is the bare minimum level of education required.
  • This report provides guidance and recommendations on how to improve the overall condition of a company’s financial position.
  • As well as the status of the economy as a whole and the financial situation in general.
  • It only generates compilation reports and does not provide any other output.
  • Cannot act as an attorney for a client in a legal issue to represent the client in the case to act as an attorney for a client in a legal matter.
features of accountant

Contrast Between CPAs And Accountants

Getting license: 

  • CPA- Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are professionals who have met the high standards set by the accounting industry and the state in which they desire to work.
    Candidates for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential are expected to have completed 150 semester hours of college-level study, with a certain number of credits earned in upper-division accounting, auditing, and business courses.

    In addition to graduating from college and working for a year under the supervision of a CPA, applicants must also pass a rigorous examination of their business, tax, auditing, and general accounting knowledge.
  • Accountants- For the duration of their careers, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) must participate in ongoing training to stay abreast of developments in the accounting industry and preserve their credentials.


  • CPA- A Certified Public Accountant, sometimes abbreviated as CPA, is a specific sort of accountant who has shown to their respective state’s satisfaction that they meet the requirements outlined by that state to establish that they are qualified to work in the field of accounting (CPA).
  • Accountant- The word “accounting” refers to the process that entails the essential processing work engaged in keeping financial accounts.

    This labor is required to keep accurate records. An individual is considered to be an accountant if the major function of their job is to keep correct financial records.


  • CPA- When compared to the possible earnings that may be anticipated from an accountant in general, the prospective earnings of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) are much higher than those of an ordinary accountant.
  • Accountant- The income of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), also often referred to as a Chartered Public Accountant, is much more than that of a typical accountant. A CPA may also be referred to as a Chartered Public Accountant.


  • CPA- First, because of the demanding nature of the CPA licensure test and the requirements for ongoing education, many CPAs have a deeper understanding of the various tax regulations.

    On the other hand, CPAs are authorized to defend their clients before the IRS if audit assistance is necessary, but an accountant who is not a CPA is not. This is another crucial aspect.
  • Accountant- It is possible for accountants who do not have a CPA certification to produce accurate tax returns; nonetheless, a CPA provides customers with significant benefits that non-CPA accountants cannot provide them.

Works under: 

  • CPA- In the United States, the body that is responsible for regulating qualified public accountants is called the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA for short). Given that issue is under the purview of the AICP Accountants, they should be the ones to deal with it.
  • Accountant- Due to the impossibility of this scenario, there is not a single Governing Body that can be identified as the entity that exercises control over the situation.


  • CPA- To sit for the CPA test, prospective candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in a field relating to finance and accounting. To get their license to work in that state, individuals must take and pass tough exams and meet stringent standards.

    To take the test in certain states, you must be a resident of the state or a citizen of the United States. 150 semester or 45 quarter hours are required from an approved college or university for CPA certification.
  • Accountant- A bachelor’s degree in finance, business management, accounting, or a closely related discipline is often necessary for entry-level accounting positions. Training for an accounting position often starts with an internship throughout college.

    Additional qualifications like the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) may help accountants advance in their jobs (CFE).

Fiduciary responsibility: 

  • CPA- An AICPA poll found that CPAs are often regarded as among the most credible experts in their fields.

    In many cases, only a certified public accountant (CPA) can audit financial statements and provide the accompanying reports for organizations subject to such regulations. Additionally, CPAs have the legal obligation and authority to advocate for their clients and make decisions that are in their best interest.
  • Accountant- If an accountant does not have a CPA qualification, they are not deemed to be operating in the client’s best interest when they do their work. It is expected of fiduciaries to always act in the client’s best interest.

Tax returns: 

  • CPA- Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are the only experts who are permitted to represent clients during tax audits in front of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

    CPAs may only sign tax returns, and CPAs are the only experts who are allowed to sign tax returns.
  • Accountant- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not permit accountants to sign tax returns or represent clients during their tax returns audits.

    In addition, the IRS does not permit accountants to provide tax advice to taxpayers. This limitation is imposed on both accountants and the people they serve as customers.


  • CPA- CPAs get training that expands on their existing accounting skills and increases their ability to be the most highly trained and informed accountants possible.

    Certified Public Accountants are expected to have skills in areas such as research, analytics, problem-solving, communication, project management, and ethical standards.
  • Accountants– Accountants are required to have a diverse skill set to be successful in any business setting.

    After completing their bachelor’s degree, they are responsible for ensuring that they can manage financial data, provide guidance and analysis, comply with reporting requirements, and generate financial reports.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. When do you take the CPA exam?

Answer. Each state’s Board of Accountancy administers a four-part CPA exam. AICPA writes the exam. All four test segments aren’t required at once. However, several jurisdictions demand retakes within 18 months.

One hundred fifty semester hours of college-level coursework are needed, but no degree. This course’s need is 30 hours greater than typical undergraduate degrees. Therefore many universities provide a 5-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program.

Q2. Who is an auditor, and what is their function?

In order to guarantee that businesses are by tax regulations, it is their responsibility to have their books audited regularly.

They prevent fraud, highlight inconsistencies in accounting practices, and sometimes advise corporations to assist them in improving their operations. Auditors serve in various roles and for a wide range of businesses.

Q3. What exactly is tax season?

Answer. The time of year when people prepare and submit their tax returns for the prior year is known as “tax season.”

Beginning with the start of the filing season, the tax authority will begin receiving and processing tax returns. Seasons for submitting taxes are often different from one nation to the next.

Q4. How many chances do you have before you have to decide whether or not to take the Certified Public Accountant test again?

If you don’t pass the Certified Public Accountant exam on the first try, you may take it an unlimited number of times before it’s deemed that you’ve failed.

You will only get one shot at each part of the test during the testing session, and that attempt will count against your overall score.

Q5. Reasons why one should use a cash flow statement?

The cash flow statement provides insight into the health of a business by detailing its revenue streams and expenditures.

The CFS, which is also called a statement of cash flows, is used to inform creditors about the company’s liquidity or the amount of cash it has on hand to cover operational expenditures and debt payments.

Similar Posts:

Was this article helpful?

Did you like this article? Why not share it:

Leave a Comment