It can be confusing to distinguish between accounting degrees, and which is best for your career goals. Certified public accountants (CPA) and enrolled agents (EA) are the two well-known degrees for tax professionals. Both are excellent choices; here, we will discuss them in detail.

What is a CPA and an EA?

A certified public accountant (CPA), has passed the CPA exam to be an accounting specialist. They have to take part in state education and also gain work experience to become licensed. One of their main jobs is auditing financial statements. One of the well-known roles of the CPA is tax preparation. They prepare different types of client tax forms, from property taxes to income taxes. They often give advice and strategies to help their clients relieve tax burdens. CPAs can also have roles in consulting, auditing, financial planning, and other accounting services. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers

An enrolled agent (EA), is a federally certified tax practitioner.  They represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. They also provide tax consultation services and prepare federal and state tax returns. Unlike CPA, the enrolled agent is regulated on the federal level. To become certified, you must pass the three-part EA exam, which covers all the aspects related to taxation.

CPA vs. EA Costs

A lump-sum amount to complete CPA certification includes application cost, exam costs, ethics, and licensing. These costs do not include the cost to achieve a related degree. Mandatory continuous yearly development also comes with a cost. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers

Becoming an EA is much less costly. The exam costs are less than that of the CPA, and though they also have yearly courses, those are less costly than the annual education costs of the CPA.

EA vs. CPA Salary

CPAs earn more than EAs. According to Payscale.com, a CPA earns around $40,000 to $140,000 per year. The enrolled agent earns approximately $30,000 to $75,000 per year.

CPAs also have more earning potential down the road. The EAs peak earning is often flattened out as they progress ahead in their career due to the federal attachment. A CPA can also serve as a CFO in a big multinational company that can take a six-figure salary while the only opportunities for EAs are with the IRS.

EA vs. CPA Career Prospects Check out America's Best Bookkeepers

While enrolled agents mainly focus on tax-related issues, such as tax preparation and tax advisory, CPAs have a greater number of choices in terms of career. They can work for private firms, in the government, or independently.

Enrolled agents can also work for private firms, in the government, or independently. They do have limitations in their career that becoming a CPA eliminates.

If you like working with taxes and manage to keep up to date with the complicated regulations, EA seems to be the ideal choice for you and is less expensive to become than a CPA. It can also allow you to work flexible hours and takes less time to become one.

Becoming a CPA provides a much broader scope of career prospects and also offers better compensation compared to an EA.  There are pluses and minuses to pursuing both careers; you have to decide which one is right for you.

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