Heidi Brundage, Technical Manager - Human Capital
CPA's understand and can articulate the language of business. Therefore, CPA's have the ability to specialize in numerous areas, including, to name a few, Personal Financial Planning, Fraud and Forensics, Information Technology and Business Valuation. Personal Financial Planning, for example, is an area in which the CPA helps clients determine how they should invest and spend their individual finances. Some of these clients could be multi-millionaires who need advice on the best ways to make their money grow and direction on how to set-up trusts for future donations and inheritances. While others seeking financial planning are average citizens who require assistance planning for their children's college education, their solid retirement and the care of their aging parents. The AICPA offers credentials in four specialty areas. Be sure to learn more at www.aicpacommunities.org
After a CPA gains experience in the fundamentals of the business and the accounting world, this person may want to concentrate on becoming an expert in a particular industry, such as banking, manufacturing, non-for-profits, oil and gas or auto dealerships. A huge area right now is fraud and forensics. The world needs CPA's to investigate those who try to steal money from corporations and the public or who trick people into false investment ploys, like a ponzi scheme. Since CPA's know the language of business, these experts are often the best people to sniff out a rat! Take a a little quiz at www.journalofaccountancy.com
Finally, a CPA may specialize in other ways, such as concentrating on tax law and obtaining a JD. Or working their way to a CFO or CEO role and then spending the remainder of his/her career leading various organizations to success in similar roles. And specialization can be as simple as audit vs. tax vs. consulting or large (SEC) vs. small (mom and pop businesses) clients. New standards and regulation are introduced into our profession on a regular basis. So a person can make a career out of becoming an expert in tax legislation, for example. While other CPA's may eventually spend the majority of their time working with SEC companies, who have very different reporting requirements than a non-public company.
The most important part to specializing is gaining the foundation that is required for a CPA license. From there, the opportunities for a CPA are endless!