You may wonder about the difference between a CPA vs an accountant. Here's an insight into what they do and their qualifications and duties.

CPA vs Accountant – Comparison Guide

Are you an individual or business looking for guidance regarding financial matters? If so, you may wonder about the difference between a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) vs a regular accountant. While both professionals are knowledgeable in the field of accounting, they do have different roles and responsibilities. 

Understanding these differences can help you select the right professional for your needs. This comparison guide will provide insight into what CPAs and accountants do and their qualifications and duties.

What’s the Difference Between a CPA and Accountant?

CPA (Certified Public Accountant) vs Accountant is often used interchangeably, especially among common people. It’s unsurprising since both are technically accountants—thus, they fulfill the same function. However, while that may be true to some degree, the two have some differences.


An accountant is a professional knowledgeable with basic and advanced accounting principles. This profession typically undertakes accounting-related tasks such as bookkeeping, financial analysis, tax preparation, and filing. Accountants come in different types, including: 

  • Staff accountants
  • Accounting managers
  • Controllers
  • Chief financial officers (CFOs) 

Each of these types comes with varying levels of expertise and responsibility. If you’re planning to hire an accountant, choosing the right type for the job is essential.


A Certified Public Accountant is a licensed professional accountant who earned their CPA license through a combination of the following factors:

  • Education: A CPA must possess an educational background in accounting, finance, or a related field and complete at least 150 semester hours of coursework.
  • Experience: CPA candidates must have at least 1 to 2 years of public accounting experience.
  • Examination: CPA candidates must pass a 4-part Uniform CPA Examination, which the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants administers. 

Since CPAs have a higher level of education and expertise, they are authorized to perform more advanced and complex accounting tasks. Some of these tasks include auditing financial statements and providing attestation services.

The difference is this: All CPAs are accountants. However, not all accountants are CPAs.. Becoming a CPA requires additional education, experience, and passing a licensing exam, which allows CPAs to perform a broader range of accounting services and gives them a higher level of credibility and authority in the field.

Which is Better?

As a business, choosing between an accountant vs a CPA will depend on your specific needs and circumstances. Accountants are ideal for smaller businesses or individuals with basic accounting needs like bookkeeping and tax management. An accountant is all you need to get professional assistance with managing financial records, preparing tax returns, and ensuring compliance with relevant standards and regulations.

However, suppose you’re managing a business or enterprise requiring more complex accounting work (e.g., financial statement audits, business valuations, tax planning, and strategy). In that case, a CPA may be the more appropriate professional. A CPA is highly trained and has had rigorous education and experience. This professional is authorized to perform a broader range of accounting services than a standard accountant.

The decision to choose an accountant or a CPA should depend on your specific needs and goals and the complexity of your financial situation. If you’re having trouble determining this, you can consult a qualified professional to help you identify the best course of action for your business or personal finances.

Why is Billing Software Important for Both Professions?

Whether you’re an accountant or a CPA, using billing software is helpful as it helps streamline the entire billing process. It also improves accuracy and ensures your services are paid for on time. With that said, here are five reasons why you should consider using billing software as an accountant vs CPA:

Saves Time

The most significant benefit that billing software can bring to the table is its time savings. Rather than manually creating and sending invoices to clients, billing software automates the entire process—from invoice creation to delivery and payment.

Improved Accuracy

Billing software also helps improve the accuracy of invoices and payments. The software automates calculations, automatically applies discounts or taxes and ensures all information meets compliance standards. At the same time, it also reduces human errors such as manual data entry and calculation mistakes.

Better Cash Flow Management

With billing software, CPA accountants can manage and improve their cash flow by providing real-time visibility into outstanding invoices, payments, and upcoming due dates. At the same time, they can also send automated payment reminders to clients who are overdue on their invoices.

Improved Customer Service

Billing software can help improve customer service by providing customers with clear, professional-looking invoices and enabling them to pay quickly and easily. It also makes it easier for accountants and CPAs to answer customer questions, track payments, and provide helpful guidance.

Why Try ReliaBills?

Accountants and CPAs may have differences, but the one thing that’s always constant between these professions is the pursuit of getting paid on time for their efforts. So if you’re looking for the best billing software available, go ahead and give ReliaBills a try!

ReliaBills is a cloud-based invoicing and billing software designed to automate payment processes, reduce administrative overhead, and streamline payment processing duties. ReliaBills’ payment processing features include automated recurring billing, payment tracking, payment reminders, online payment processing, and much more!

ReliaBills also provides tools that help manage customer information, monitor payment records, and create proper billing and payment collection reports. As a result, invoice and billing management are simple and convenient. You also have active customer support ready to assist you whenever you need help.

Get started with ReliaBills today for free! And if you need more features, you can upgrade your account to ReliaBills PLUS. For only $24.95 per month, ReliaBills PLUS will give you access to advanced features such as automatic payment recovery, SMS notifications, custom invoice creation, advanced reporting, and more!

With ReliaBills, accountants and CPAs have an all-in-one solution to invoicing and payment processing needs. That way, you can focus more on what you do best—providing quality accounting services to your customers. Get started today! Visit to learn more.

Wrapping Up

Accounting and CPAs are two different professions that require different educational qualifications. That said, these professionals are essential for various businesses and individuals as they help manage their finances and keep track of payments. Use this article as a guide to further understand the differences between both accounting professionals and which one you should choose.

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