Welcome to the AICPA Frequently Asked Questions page, which addresses a variety of questions and answers related to the AICPA, its mission, membership requirements, specialty credentials offered and other topics. These resources are intended to provide you with a broad understanding of the AICPA, its role within the accounting profession, and the services the Institute provides to its members.
- What is the AICPA?
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the national professional organization for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in the United States.
- What is the AICPA’s mission and how is it carried out?
The AICPA’s mission is to provide members with the resources, information and leadership that enable them to provide valuable services in the highest professional manner to benefit the public, employers and clients. In fulfilling its mission, the AICPA works with state CPA organizations and gives priority to those areas where public reliance on CPA skills is most significant.
To achieve this mission, the AICPA develops standards for audit and other services provided by CPA; provides educational guidance materials to its members; creates and grades the Uniform CPA Exam; and monitors and enforces compliance with the profession’s audit, technical and ethical standards.
- When was the AICPA founded?
The AICPA was founded in 1887 and upon its creation, established accountancy as a profession distinguished by rigorous educational requirements, high professional standards, a strict code of professional ethics, licensing status and a commitment to serving the public interest.
- Who leads the AICPA?
The AICPA Board of Directors acts as the executive committee for the governing Council which determines Institute programs and establishes general policies. The Council is made up of elected and appointed members from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. The Board oversees management and organizes the various volunteer committees which report to it.
Barry C. Melancon, CPA, CGMA is President and CEO of the AICPA. The 2013-2014 Chair of the Board of Directors is William E. Balhoff, CPA, CGMA, CFF.
- Is the AICPA the largest professional association for CPAs in the country?
Yes. Detailed information is available on the About the AICPA page.
- How many members are there?
The AICPA has nearly 394,000 members in 128 countries, including CPAs in business and industry, public accounting, government, education, student affiliates and international associates.
- How many women are members of the AICPA?
Women represent approximately 35 percent of the current AICPA membership, a percentage that is increasing each year.
- Is membership in the AICPA required in order to practice as a CPA?
AICPA membership is not mandatory for CPAs. The licensing authority and requirements for CPAs fall under the auspices of the Board of Accountancy for the state or jurisdiction in which a CPA practices.
- What are the requirements to become a member of the AICPA?
The AICPA offers several different types of memberships in order to meet the needs of the diverse CPA profession.
Regular Member: To qualify for Regular membership in the AICPA, one must: possess a valid CPA certificate issued by the authority of a state; pass the Uniform CPA Exam; complete 120 hours of continuing professional education every three years; practice in a firm enrolled in an approved practice-monitoring program; and agree to abide by the AICPA Bylaws and Code of Professional Conduct.
Associate Member: Associate members have not yet met their state’s additional requirements for certification. However, they have passed the Uniform CPA Examination. Associate members must also agree to abide by the AICPA Bylaws and Code of Professional Conduct and meet the applicable Continuing and Professional Education (CPE) and Quality Review membership requirements for their category (such as public accounting, industry, education or government).
International Associate: In order to qualify for the International Associate membership category, one must comply with the CPE requirements of the jurisdiction in which they are licensed. In addition, mandatory compliance with the Bylaws and applicable provisions of the Code of Professional Conduct, to the extent that it does not conflict with foreign laws or the professional standards in their home countries, is required.
Student Affiliate: The Student Affiliate membership is available from freshman year of college through graduate school. This option is also open to recent college graduates who are in the workforce and have not yet passed the Uniform CPA Exam. Recent graduates may remain in this category for up to five years following graduation and/or completing graduate school. Upon meeting the eligibility requirements to sit for the CPA Exam, Student Affiliate members must sit for the CPA Exam at least once each year to remain in this membership category. Only students residing in the United States are eligible.
- What is the relationship between state CPA societies and the AICPA? Are they local chapters of the AICPA?
The 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands all have independent CPA societies—they are not chapters of the AICPA. The AICPA assists any and all of these societies with individual, regional or nationwide initiatives.
- What is the relationship between AICPA and FASB?
The seven-member board of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) authorizes and makes the accounting rules of the United States under the auspices of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The AICPA provides technical support, standard-setting (including GAAP) and guidelines in conjunction with FASB’s work.
- Who determines GAAP?
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) are uniform minimum standards of, and guidelines to, financial accounting and reporting. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) are authorized to establish these principles.
- What is the role of the AICPA’s Business, Industry & Government Team?
The AICPA’s Business, Industry & Government (BIG) team promotes the role of CPAs in business, industry and government, highlighting their value as innovative and ethical leaders who are (1) essential knowledge resources, (2) recognized business partners and (3) strategic decision makers. The team provides practical guidance, information and tools related to traditional functional areas (financial accounting, reporting, governance, tax and internal auditing) and growing areas of CPA expertise such as management of processes, technology and resources. The team champions CPAs in business, industry and government in the global accounting community, through its involvement in international accountancy organizations and partnerships with other leading management accounting bodies.
- What is the role of the AICPA’s Tax Team?
The AICPA’s Tax Team provides guidance, information, and practice tools to the tax practitioner. It also works to improve the tax system for CPAs and the public, with a major theme of tax simplification. In addition, it represents the AICPA members’ tax interests. The team publishes non-partisan studies to help legislators and other interested parties understand the tax implications of legislation.
- What is a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)?
The AICPA has established the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) credential for CPAs who specialize in personal financial planning. This designation can only be acquired by CPAs who are AICPA members, have business experience and lifelong learning within the five-year period preceding the date of application in addition to passing a comprehensive financial planning exam. Personal Financial Specialists strive to demonstrate their knowledge, skill and experience by earning this exclusive credential. For further information on how to obtain the PFS credential, please visit the Personal Financial Planning web site.
- What is a Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP)?
A Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) is a CPA that has earned recognition for his or her unique ability to bridge the gaps between business and technology. The AICPA credential encourages and recognizes excellence in the technology-related services provided by the profession. The AICPA offers the tools, training, and support for CPAs to become technologically adept and to benefit the business and academic communities they serve. Please visit the Information Management and Technology Assurance section for further information.
- What is an Accredited Business Valuation specialist (ABV)?
The Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) program provides specialized access to information, education, tools, and support that enhance credential holders’ ability to make a genuine difference for their clients and employees. The mission of the Business Valuation and Forensic and Litigation Services Community is to raise awareness about the importance and value of Business Valuation and Forensic Litigation support services, serve as a comprehensive resource provider for members, create a community of individuals interested in and/or experienced in providing their specialized services and create a community of experts through the AICPA’s ABV credential. Please visit the Forensic and Valuation Services Center for further information.
- Does the AICPA provide referrals for CPA services?
Institute policy is not to recommend specific members over others for referrals. However, many state CPA societies have chosen to set up their own referral services.
- Does the AICPA publish magazines or newsletters?
Yes. The Institute publishes a number of magazines and newsletters which can be found on the Publications page.
- Does the AICPA publish research reports?
The Institute publishes the following reports: Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits; Understanding Social Security Reform: The Issues and Alternatives; Understanding Tax Reform: A Guide to 21st Century Alternatives; The Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey; and Private Company Practice Section’s National Management of an Accounting Practice Survey (in conjunction with the Texas Society of CPAs).
- Where is the AICPA located?
AICPA office locations and contact information is available by visiting the Contact page.