Define: Certified Public Accountant

UK Accounting Glossary

Definition: Certified Public Accountant


Quick Summary of Certified Public Accountant


A designation given to an accountant who has passed a standardised CPA exam and met the government-mandated work experience and educational requirements required to become a Certified Accountant.



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Full Definition of Certified Public Accountant


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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Definition Sources


Definitions for Certified Public Accountant are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 24th December 2018.