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Accounting practices build their success on experience, education and compliance with regulatory requirements in a chosen field of accounting. The licensing process helps ensure that only qualified individuals are authorized to serve the people. Licenses are checked and verified by using the practitioner’s name or license number. Below is a list of credentials for career advancement:
Certified Public Accountant (CPA): This is the most popular professional designation for accountants, and requires "sitting" for the Uniform CPA Exam, developed and graded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The Uniform CPA Examination is one of the "Four Es" - Education, Examination, Ethics and Experience - required for licensure as a CPA. Passing the examination is not, in itself, sufficient to meet requirements for licensure. Requirements vary by jurisdiction, as described on the websites of all state Boards of Accountancy. A directory of and links to all of the state boards can be found online at the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).
The CMA credential differs significantly from the CPA designation, and the decision to pursue one over the other depends entirely on individual career goals. For a career in public accounting, the CPA designation is appropriate - and required by state law. However, a large majority of accounting professionals in the United States work inside organizations, building quality financial practices into the organization.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP), administered by CFP Board, identifies to the public that those individuals who have been authorized to use the CFP® certification marks in the U.S. have met rigorous professional standards and have agreed to adhere to the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence when dealing with clients.
The Licensing Process
Accountants face stringent compliance requirements when it comes to accounting and auditing standards, the Tax Code and Sarbanes-Oxley. But post-certification career paths are many and varied. Maximizing accounting training is as simple as planning ahead and making some good decisions.
Accounting certifications and professional designations are required to step out into a specialty or independent practice. Trying to understand how to comply with the complex requirements, statutes, rules and regulations of the state boards of accountancy can be difficult and time-consuming.
Key Organizations in the Licensing Process
The AICPA and National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) is an "evergreen" model licensing law developed to provide a uniform approach to regulation of the accounting profession. The UAA provides a comprehensive system for enhancing public protection, facilitating consumer choice, and supporting the efficient operation of the capital markets.
A model bill to regulate the practice of public accountancy was first published in 1916 by the American Institute of Accountants, the predecessor of the AICPA. In 1984, the AICPA and NASBA published the first joint model bill, later renamed the Uniform Accountancy Act.