The Value Of Licensure

Physicians, dentists, nurses, therapists, lawyers, teachers, barbers/beauticians, contractors, public engineers, skilled nursing administrators, optometrists, insurance agents and brokers, real estate agents brokers and appraisers, truck drivers, architects, financial advisors and yes… CPA’s, all require licensure or certification.

For all the positions listed above, to work in the field requires licensure except for Certified Public Accountants – CPA’s. Any unlicensed person can hang up a shingle and claim to be an accountant if they don’t claim to be a CPA. They can do taxes, business accounting, tax planning and provide bookkeeping services.

To become a CPA in California requires more college units than a normal BA in Business. Along with their Accounting classes they must take coursework in Finance, Marketing, Information Systems, and Management. After graduation the CPA applicant must have multiple hours working under a CPA in the subject area of Auditing. They can then sit for the CPA exam which is often considered to be much more rigorous than the Legal Bar Exam. Once the applicant has passed the CPA exam, they must then sit for an Ethics Exam which is just a rigorous as the CPA exam. Additionally, a CPA is required by law to take 20 hours of Continuing Education Units CPE’s) every year with 12 of those hours in Accounting technical subjects. The non-CPA who hangs out a shingle has no such requirement.

We trust our physical bodies to highly educated and licensed healthcare professionals at multiple levels. We trust our safety on the road to trained and licensed professional truck drivers. We trust the safety of our construction to educated architects, engineers and contractors. We trust the education of our children to educated and certified teachers.

Why then would we trust our financial past and future to someone who may or may not be educated and who does not hold a license?

CPA’s have a unique perspective not just on tax issues, but also on business operations. This perspective affords them the ability to help guide business clients through difficult waters and to help maintain stability of operations from a financial point of view. For the individual tax client, the CPA has extensive experience in tax and trust accounting.

If you are unsure of the professional licensure of your “accountant”, I suggest you seek out a CPA. Find one you like and are comfortable with regarding your business or personal finances.