Gleim is proud to welcome Bryce Welker, blogger and owner of Crush the CPA exam, to the Gleim Blog.
There tends to be a lot of confusion when it comes to the difference between a CPA certificate and a CPA license. While most states see these terms as interchangeable, there are what are known as “two-tier states” that do not. That being said, it’s important to be aware of their differences.
A very basic overview of the CPA certificate is that work experience or continuing professional education (CPE) hours are not required. With so little experience, it’s not surprising that the range of work available is limited for certificate holders. For example, you could not own and operate your own CPA firm or sign audit reports.
What may be the biggest difference is that you cannot even call yourself a CPA in the state that you received your certificate.
As for the CPA license, it is more experience-based. You are required to complete 1-2 years of work experience that has been overseen and verified by an active CPA license holder.
With a CPA license you are required to complete a certain number of CPE hours each reporting year. In most states this means an additional 80 hours of classes every 2 years. This may sound like a lot more work, but it allows you to refer to yourself as a CPA and own/operate your own firm.
So, which option is better? It all depends on what you want to do and where you live.
Two-tier states create a distinction between the certificate and licensing process by recognizing a candidate’s work experience. These states require you to sit for the CPA exam and become certified before you gain work experience and eventually get your license.
On the other hand, the one-tier states offer certification and licensing at the same time. This was done in an effort to remove the confusion surrounding the difference between the two.
Most states utilize the one-tier system, however here is the list of the remaining two-tier states:
To learn more about CPA exam requirements and find actionable study tips and tricks, head over to http://crushthecpaexam.com.