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Certified Public Accountant

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A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a person licensed by a state board of accountancy to practice public accounting. The primary distinction between a Certified Public Accountant and all other accountants is that only a Certified Public Accountant can issue an opinion on audited financial statements. In most cases, the Certified Public Accountant will issue an unqualified ( or "clean")opinion that states the company's financial statements were prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). But the Certified Public Accountant may also issue a "qualified" opinion describing certain exceptions to GAAP. To become a Certified Public Accountant, an individual must pass the Uniform CPA Examination, which includes sections on financial accounting and reporting, auditing, business environment & concepts, and regulation. State boards of accountancy also demand that a Certified Public Accountant have practical experience. This requirement varies by state, but in many cases a Certified Public Accountant must have two years of practical experience. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) plays a primary role in all aspects of the professional life of a Certified Public Accountant.



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