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Bookkeepers, Accountant and CPAs
Why they are different and what is required.
by Michael C. Dennis M.B.A., C.B.F.

Bookkeepers tend to do the simpler, lower level record keeping tasks. Accountants, on the other hand, have a higher level of skill and knowledge, and can do more complex tasks. Anyone can set up a business and call himself or herself an accountant.

A CPA is an accountant that has been certified, through testing and education, and is licensed to use the title of Certified Public Accountant. CPAs often have the ability to analyze data, interpret it, compare it and then offer critical insights about the business based on their analysis. Because of their training and education, CPAs tend to be more objective and independent than bookkeepers and accountants.

Some people use the terms accountant and CPA interchangeably, but achieving the status of CPA takes intelligence, ethics, and commitment. First, candidates must graduate from an accredited college or university. After graduation and a year of on the job experience, they must pass a lengthy test of business, auditing, and general accounting skills.

Passing the CPA exam is not the only requirement. CPAs also are required to follow a strict code of ethics. They also must complete a specific amount of continuing professional education (CPE) to keep current on new rules and regulations in the financial, accounting, and business world.

(Ed. Comment: The CPA requirements are similar to CBA, CBF and CCE for Credit Professionals. Many NACM Seminars offer CPE points to those preparing to certifiy through the CPA examination.)

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