Bookkeepers, accountants, CPAs & CPA(Pratising)

People often confuse the roles of bookkeepers, accountants, certified public accountants (CPAs) and practising certified public accountants (CPA(Practising)).  Moreover, not many people have in-depth accounting knowledge, this lead to further confusions.  
Bookkeepers maintain daily accounting records, posting debits and credits, generating invoices for clients and checks for vendors, etc.  Bookkeepers typically are of less accounting experience and knowledge than accountants or CPAs, thus they are often considered as just technicians or accounting clerks. 
Accountants usually have educational backgrounds in accounting.  Accountants work with accounting clerks and technicians who handle daily financial entries.  Accountants oversee works completed by bookkeepers and are in mid-level position in the accounting department, accountants report to accounting managers, company controllers or financial directors.  Accountants need not be certified professionals. 
CPAs and CPA(practising) 
CPAs and CPA(practising) are professionals who are regulated law, for example in Hong Kong, they are regulated by the Professional Accountants Ordinance (PAO) (Chapter 50, Laws of Hong Kong). An person can become a CPA or CPA(practising) only if he possess the qualifications required, pass professional examinations and gain the required working experience. Though the requirements to become a certified Public Accountant varies from one country to another, the basic thing is that one has to undergo rigorous tests to qualify to become a certified profession.  Accountants not meeting these requirements cannot use the CPA designation legally. 

Difference between CPA and CPA(practising) 

CPA(Practising) are CPAs with Practising Certificates (“PC”) issued by authorized bodies.  In Hong Kong, a CPA may apply for a PC, which is issued annually on application, if s/he: 
has had a period of not less than four years of full-time approved accounting experience of which at least one year is post-qualifying experience.  The four-year period may be reduced to 30 months if the experience acquired is all post-qualifying.  In either case, a substantial proportion of the approved accounting experience must be in auditing and at least one year of such experience must be gained in Hong Kong within three years prior to the date of application;
is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong;
has passed examinations in local law and taxation and where applicable auditing;
is not a bankrupt nor has become bankrupt nor has entered into a voluntary arrangement with his / her creditors within the meaning of the Bankruptcy Ordinance (Cap. 6); and
has complied with the Institute’s continuing professional development requirements.
A person holding a PC may describe himself/herself as a CPA (practising) and practise public accountancy in Hong Kong.  Only CPA(Practising) can offer statutory auditing services to the public.
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