US CPA vs CFA – What is the difference?

US CPA (US Certified Public Accountant) is one of the highest accounting credentials administered by the American Institute of Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA).

CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) is a globally recognized credential in the field of financial management and investment management. The CFA Institute administers it.

Certified Public Accountant:

US CPA exam is a single-level toughness exam. It is divided into 4 parts

  1. BEC – Business Environmental Concepts
  2. FAR – Financial Accounting and Reporting
  3. REG – Regulation
  4. AUD – Auditing and Attestation

The candidates can schedule the exam according to their leisure. Once they get the result of the first exam, they have to clear the remaining parts of the examination within 18 months.

AICPA, the world’s largest accounting body, offers memberships to all the aspirants after they clear all 4 examinations. However, the CPA license is issued by the 55 state boards of accountancy of the US, which are part of the National Association of the State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). 

Each state board has different eligibility criteria that need to be met by the aspirants to take the US CPA exams.

The common eligibility criteria for the exam are

  • Have 120 credits to take the US CPA exam. It is considered that 1 year of University education in India is equal to 30 credits of US education.
  • Masters Degree in any of the streams like accounting, commerce, finance.

For the US CPA license/certification, the candidate has to

  • Pass the Ethics Exam
  • Require 150 credits for certification
  • Must have 2000 hours of experience in taxation, accounting, and management consultancy

The US CPA exam has Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs), Task-Based Simulations (TBS), and Written Communication (Essay Type Question).

The candidate needs 75 points or more to pass the examination and become a US Certified Public Accountant. 

The US CPAs have many career opportunities in different fields like

  • Forensic Accounting
  • Assurance Services
  • Consulting Services
  • Financial Planning
  • Taxation Services
  • Information Technology Services
  • International Accounting
  • Litigation Services
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • Business Valuation And Many more

Chartered Financial Analyst:

The CFA course instils financial management and investment management skills in the aspirant. The course can be completed in 1.5 – 4 years depending on the caliber of the candidate.

The eligibility criteria for CFA is

  • The candidate must hold a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Applicants need to have at least 4 years of working experience.
  • Candidates must have a passport in order to appear for the CFA program exams.

The CFA exam has 3 levels

  • Level 1: Deals with basic aspects of investment analysis.
  • Level 2: Deals with the application of investment tools and topics that focuses on different types of asset
  • Level 3: In this level, the emphasis is laid on all the concepts and analytical methods.

Level 1 and Level 2 exams are MCQ based questions whereas Level 3 exam is essay type based questions.

After attaining the CFA certification, the candidate can choose different career opportunities like

  • Business Consultant
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Chartered Financial Analyst
  • Investment Manager
  • Portfolio Manager
  • Risk Manager
  • Chief Executive Officer

Difference between US CPA and CFA:

Point of DifferenceUS CPACFA
Course DurationWithin 1 year1.5 to 4 years
Administered ByAICPACFA Institute
Examination MethodOnlineOnline
Examination Level4 exams3 levels
Course EligibilityMust have 120 credits(150 credits in some states) from NAAC-A recognized collegesMust hold Bachelor’s DegreeApplicants needs to have at least 4 years of work experience

Conclusion:

With the brief overview of the US CPA and CFA, hope you may have a clear picture of both the Certifications. It completely depends on the candidates that certification or course they opt for based on their interests or backgrounds. Both the certifications have their importance and own values on their own.

To know more details, please feel free to contact Simandhar Education @+91 7780273388 or mail us at [email protected]






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