Hiring a CPA: Job Description, Pay, and More

If you’re looking to hire a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), whether it’s for a financial firm, an accounting department at a corporate company, or somewhere else, it might help to get some insights.

Let’s explore the fundamentals of hiring a CPA so you can hire the best talent for your business.

What Is a CPA?

CPAs are accounting professionals who have gone on to pursue and meet state licensing requirements, providing them with the CPA designation. These accounting professionals go through specialized training and experience to prepare them for the CPA exam.

CPAs vs. Accounting Staff

While there are clear associations between CPAs and standard accounting team members, it’s important to note that all CPAs are accountants. However, not all accountants are CPAs.

As noted above, CPAs take their accounting degrees to the next level by preparing for, taking, and passing their state’s CPA exam.

Why Hire a CPA?

If a company’s finances are in trouble, or even if things are running smoothly, it’s important to hire a CPA to monitor and manage accounting procedures and activities.

CPAs offer a broad range of services and can help with duties including preparing personal or business tax documentation, providing insights to make informed financial decisions, and conducting or overseeing auditing sessions.

RELATED: Tax Preparer vs. CPA: What’s the Difference?

What to Look for in a CPA

When it’s time to start searching for your ideal CPA, there are some key factors to consider, including the following:

Experience Level

Like most roles, experience counts, and there are specific designations for the level at which a CPA performs:

  • Junior CPAs are professionals at the beginning of their CPA careers. They can perform accounting tasks like bookkeeping and tax preparation. Hiring a junior CPA can be a cost-effective solution for handling routine financial matters.
  • Mid-level CPAs typically have several years of experience and possess a deep understanding of complex accounting principles and tax laws. You might ask these professionals to deal with detailed financial analysis, strategic tax planning, and managing financial audits.
  • Senior CPAs are highly experienced professionals. They often have specialized knowledge in areas like forensic accounting, business valuation, or international tax law. Many private companies and accounting firms task CPAs with high-stakes financial decision-making, long-term strategic planning, and navigating complex legal and compliance issues.

Industry Experience

Different industries often require unique accounting and tax skills to manage industry-specific challenges. For example, a CPA that works with e-commerce companies understands various online tax matters.

CPAs with knowledge about specific industries are invaluable in protecting companies with their understanding of industry standards and best practices, common financial risks, and regulatory compliance.

Soft Skills

CPAs need to possess skills beyond their finance and accounting expertise to ensure their ability and commitment to solving daily issues, collaborating with colleagues, and fitting into the company culture.

Here are some soft skills to look for in CPAs:

  • Problem-solving and analytical skills to tackle complex financial issues, such as tax disputes.
  • Ethical judgment is important to uphold your company’s integrity and protect your reputation.
  • Professionalism that goes beyond qualifications and certifications. It is present in their communication, attention to detail, punctuality, ability to meet deadlines, and commitment to keeping you informed about your company’s financial matters.

What to Include in Your CPA Job Description

A CPA job description will vary according to the industry and your specific needs, but here are some general CPA responsibilities to keep in mind as you craft a job description for your CPA:

Key Responsibilities

The responsibilities of a CPA may depend on the role. Still, there are some basic responsibilities most CPAs cover:

  • Financial Reporting and Analysis. A CPA typically prepares and reviews financial statements and analyzes financial data.
  • Tax Preparation and Financial Planning. Ensure that your CPA can prepare, file, and manage tax returns for your business. It’s also important that they can advise you about laying out tax strategies, minimizing liabilities, and ensuring tax law compliance.
  • Audit and Assurance Services. Business CPAs often conduct financial statement audits to ensure accuracy, validity, and legality. They also provide assurance services to improve reliability and transparency.
  • Regulatory Compliance. Compliance is a vital task for CPAs since non-compliance can result in hefty fines and other consequences. Top CPAs stay current on financial regulations and laws and advise accordingly.
  • Additional Responsibilities. There are many other responsibilities to include in your job description, such as business valuation, forensic accounting, internal controls and risk management, and continuing education and training in accounting and their specific area.

Software, Tools, and Resources

CPAs typically use these or some combination of the following software, tools, and resources:

  • Accounting software like Xero, QuickBooks, and FreshBooks for invoicing and bookkeeping.
  • Tax preparation software, like Intuit ProConnect and Drake Software.
  • Auditing software like CaseWare, ACL, and IDEA assist with compliance checking and facilitating efficient data analysis.
  • Document management tools like DocuSign to obtain electronic signatures.
  • Compliance resources like Thomson Reuters Checkpoint, CCH Wolters Kluwer, and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) provide the latest information regarding regulations and standards for compliance.

CPA Education and Qualifications

CPAs typically obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting and pass a CPA examination. They also pursue continuing education and monitor the need for any additional state licensing requirements.

CPA Salary

According to Indeed, the average annual compensation for CPAs in the United States is about $96,000 (as of February 2024).

Interviewing a Potential CPA Professional for Your Company

When it’s time to interview CPAs, it’s important to focus on their technical expertise, along with their ethical judgment, problem-solving skills, and fit within your company culture.

Here are a few questions that reflect those areas:

  1. Can you discuss your finance and accounting experience, focusing on any experience relevant to our industry?
  2. What accounting software and tools do you use? Are you open to learning the ones we use?
  3. Can you give an example of a complex financial matter you encountered and how you resolved it for your employer?
  4. Have you ever faced an ethical dilemma in your accounting career? How did you handle it? What was the outcome?
  5. How do you discuss complicated financial matters with clients or colleagues who do not have a finance background?

READ NEXT: Hiring Temporary Accounting Support for Tax Season

Do You Need Help Hiring a CPA?

We hope this blog post serves as guidance to help you start your search for your company’s CPA. Need more help finding top CPA candidates? Contact us today.

Hiring a CPA Soon?

Reach out to Insight Global today. We can find you qualified candidates in as little as 48 hours. Questions? Call us toll-free: 855-485-8853