Who is a CPA ?
A Certified Public Accountant, or CPA for short, is someone who has passed the Uniform Certified Public Accounting Examination and met the state's academic and experience requirements for certification as a CPA. The Uniform CPA examination is often regarded as one of the most rigorous competitive examinations in the US, much similar to the bar examinations required for attorneys. A CPA is likely to have an undergraduate or advanced degree in accounting from an accredited university, and is required to continuously educate themselves on current regulations and industry practices.
A CPA designation is the US equivalent of a Chartered Accountant designation in most commonwealth countries. The CPA is the highest designation for a practicing public accountant in the United States.
A CPA firm is a professional corporation licensed by the State Board of Accounting to provide accounting services to the public. There are many types of accounting firms, all of which are not CPA firms. A CPA firm is owned and operated by CPAs. Other types of accounting firms include bookkeeping firms (non-certified) and tax preparation firms. Bookkeeping firms are generally not regulated by any licensing body and its owners are not required to be CPAs. Similarly tax preparation firms are also not required to be CPAs.
Choose your CPA firm carefully. Look for the CPA designation on the firm name or the practitioner's name. Look for the CPA logo, only a CPA firm can display the CPA logo.