A CPA is different than an accountant. In fact, anyone who does any type of accounting function – even someone without a degree – can call themselves an accountant.
A certified public accountant (CPA), however, is someone who has earned a professional designation through a combination of education, experience and licensing.
In addition to completing a program of study in accounting, and acquiring professional work experience in public accounting, a CPA candidate also must sit for and pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
The exam itself is developed and graded by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). Licensing, however, is done by state, district and county Boards of Accountancy.