Becoming a CPA vs. EA: What’s the Difference?

It is clear you need to be one of the best you could be, professionally, and a giant a part of unlocking your potential within the accounting trade is incomes sure certifications. Many accountants need to grow to be licensed public accountants (CPA) whereas others have their sights set on turning into an enrolled agent (EA). However which one is best for you?

The choice depends upon numerous various factors, resembling deciding what sort of colleagues and purchasers you need to work with and which areas of accounting curiosity you essentially the most. It is useful to check the variations between a CPA and an EA so you possibly can resolve which one is the only option to your profession.

Job description for a CPA

Certified public accountants are consultants for a variety of subjects associated to cash administration, taxes, monetary companies and different accounting areas. Their purchasers might embody companies or people who want assist in monetary planning. CPAs are specialists in a broad vary of accounting and finance-related subjects and are licensed by a state.

Job description for an enrolled agent

The federal authorities oversees the licensing of EAs and with this title, EAs can signify purchasers earlier than the IRS. Enrolled agents are extra specialised than CPAs, as their skilled expertise middle on taxes for people and companies. Virtually each facet that pertains to taxes could be dealt with by an EA, from property taxes and retirement taxes to company taxes. EAs can signify people and companies with the IRS if they’re dealing with an audit. EA credentials are awarded by the IRS and are efficient in each state.

Evaluating EAs and CPAs

There are professionals and cons hooked up to every kind of certification. Each EA and CPA certifications can improve any accountant’s profession, nevertheless it’s essential to take a look at the variations between them to correctly evaluate.

Schooling and certification

One of many key variations between a CPA and an EA is what it takes to earn the designation. A CPA applicant should meet all of the training necessities as outlined by their state, then move the CPA examination. EA candidates should move all three components of the Particular Enrollment Examination (SEE) or have 5 years of expertise as an IRS worker in a tax-facing discipline.


The CPA exam is 4 4-hour assessments that cowl Monetary Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Enterprise Surroundings and Ideas (BEC), and Regulation (REG). Candidates have 18 months to move all 4 exams. Some states additionally require an ethics examination.

The EA examination is a three-part check that every include round 100 a number of alternative questions. The sections embody People; Enterprise; and Illustration, Apply and Procedures. Candidates have two years by which to move all components of the examination.

Eligibility to follow

CPAs can solely follow within the state they’re licensed in, whereas EAs can follow in all 50 states as a result of their license is awarded on the federal degree. EAs usually are not as widespread however as purchasers acknowledge their particular expertise, the demand is rising. CPAs are extensively recognized within the enterprise and accounting world.


CPAs supply extra broad accounting companies whereas EAs specialise in tax points. For accountants who actually need to concentrate on tax points, the EA is the way in which to go. EAs normally don’t department out into different areas of accounting that aren’t tax associated. CPAs can concentrate on taxes in addition to different subjects which have little to do with taxes, resembling company finance or auditing.


On common, CPAS earn more money than EAs yearly. A CPA’s average salary is round $62,000 whereas the typical EA wage is round $50,000. As with every wage reporting, rather a lot depends upon numerous state and regional variations, which have an effect on each purchasers and earnings.

There is not any improper reply on the subject of deciding whether or not it is best so that you can research to grow to be a CPA or an EA. Each are prestigious positions that gives you numerous further revenue per yr. While you take a look at the variations and similarities between a CPA and an EA, you possibly can see that both one will provide help to obtain your skilled targets.

Serious about studying extra in regards to the wage outlook for accountants? Try this blog post.

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