The CPA (Certified Public Accountant) credential is long associated with tax preparers. What most business owners don't know is that the CPA designation is a meaningful way to identify how much technical accounting skills/education and real world experience an accountant has. It does not identify what that CPA specializes in. Though earning a CPA distinction varies by state, most common requirements are that a CPA obtain a 4 year degree in accounting, work as a public accountant for a minimum of 2-3 years, and successfully pass a comprehensive 4 part exam, much like the legal bar exam. (For example: an attorney can focus on civil, corporate, or criminal law. They are all licensed JDs.)
CPAs can have one of 3 primary focuses:
Tax CPAs prepare tax returns, Audit CPAs review the work of other accounting professionals, and Financial CPAs focus more on operational business accounting and work most commonly as Controllers. Most of the CPAs are Financial CPAs with experience as Audit CPAs.