CPA vs EA: Difference and Comparison

CPA and EA seem similar as a profession but differ in their functionality. It is vital to know about the licensed tax profession to get a good career path.

If you are a tax professional, then develop your profession in accounting by understanding the difference between CPA and EA.

These certification helps to get promoted to a higher position in finance and accounting. The greater the knowledge, will greater your earnings.

Key Takeaways

  1. CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant and is a license to practice accounting in the US, while EA stands for Enrolled Agent and is a license to represent taxpayers before the IRS.
  2. CPAs have a broader scope of practice and can perform a wide range of accounting services, while EAs specialize in tax preparation and representation.
  3. CPAs are required to have a college degree and pass the CPA exam, while EAs must pass a comprehensive exam administered by the IRS.


The EA stands for Enrolled Agent, and the course specialises in taxation, while the CPA US course specialises in taxation and more. Enrolled Agent Status is the highest credential awarded by the IRS, while Certified Public Accountants (CPA) are licensed by their applicable state boards of accountancy.


CPA stands for (Certified Public Accountant) which needs 150 hours to study and must clear four-part of the exam conducted by AICPA. It is a state-level examination.

Every state has different requirements for eligibility. It has 150 hours a semester, and must work under a senior for around 1-2 years to get the license.

It is not a degree or a diploma program. A completion certificate provides at the end. CPA aims to improve your skills in your business career.

EA stands for (Enrolled Agent). You need to pass all three parts of the exam conducted by the IRS. Then you can apply for the license.

It takes 1-3 months to become a certified enrolled agent, and nearly 71%of of candidates clear the enrolled agent exam.

The enrolled agents can also perform accounting tasks. The EPA exam took 3.5 hours.

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In the EA exam, the part two segment is difficult among the three sections.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCPAEA
CreditsCPA more credits in all the levels.EA has fewer credits compared to CPA.
TimeCPA needs 8-12 months to clear.EA needs 1-3 months to clear.
Sections in examThe CPA has four partsThe EA has three sections.
Difficulty levelThe CPA is high difficult compared to EA.The EA is less complex compared to CPA.
Expected salaryThe CPA certified agent earns around $60,000 in a yearThe EA agent earns nearly $40,000 in a year.

What is CPA?

The CPA( Certified Public Account) is a state-level licensed tax advisor.

The CPA-certified professions are Auditors, Accountants, Business advisors, Corporate accountants and executives, Tax consultants, Forensic accountants, and financial planners.

The CPA exam conducts by AIPCA( American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). It takes eight to twelve months to crack the exam.

The CPA is more difficult when compared to the EA examination.

The CPA exam has four parts. Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG) are the four sections of the CPA exam.

It has no limit in attempts. You take as much as you can if you fail. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) is the hardest part of the CPA exam.

The certified CPA agent works in organizing, examining, preparing and providing financial and accounting services.

Every state has its requirements to apply for CPA. The basic eligibility for CPA is a bachelor’s degree with two years of experience in public accounting service.

Germany considers the best place to study accounting and finance. Ethics, management, and finance are the main topics covered by the CPA exam. The scale range of CPA is 100-900, and 540 is the pass range of the CPA examination.


What is EA?

The EA( Enrolled Agents ) are accounting professionals. They can advise on tax payments and file tax returns for individuals, partnerships, estates, IRS audits, and appeals.

The difficulty might depend on the effort to crack the examination. PTIN are the passing scores of the Enrolled agent’s exam.

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Many online sites help to clear the EA exam, and they provide free materials for your preparation. The EA exam establishes in the year 1884.

The EA exam has three parts. It conducts by IRS( Internal Revenue Service). Focusing on Individuals, Businesses, and Representation, Practices and Procedures are the three parts of the EA exam.

Each section carries 100 questions, and the exam takes 3.5 hours long. Unlike CPA, it doesn’t need any bachelor’s degree as eligibility criteria.

The exam is officially known as Special Enrollment Examination (SEE).

According to a census, the net revenue of an enrolled agent was 5180 U.S. dollars in 2018. The candidate needs to pass the three-part of the exam as well as the background check.

The enrolled agent may also be a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents. Before starting their practices, the enrolled agents may work as IRS agents to gain experience in the field.

The EA agent can work IRS agent and get a better experience.


Main Differences Between CPA and EA

  1. The CPA certified has high credits in all the levels, and the EA agent has fewer credits.
  2. The CPA candidate needs 8-12 months to clear, and the EA candidate needs 1-3 months to crack.
  3. The CPA examination has four parts, and the EA examination has three sections.
  4. The CPA exam is high in difficulty compared to EA, and the EA is less complex compared to CPA.
  5. The CPA-certified agent earns around $60,000 in a year, and the EA agent earns nearly $40,000 per year.
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Last Updated : 15 August, 2023

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8 thoughts on “CPA vs EA: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The comprehensive comparison between CPA and EA credentials is an insightful read for aspiring professionals in the field.

  2. The article effectively highlights the different career trajectories of CPA and EA with a clear emphasis on educational requirements.

  3. The key differences between CPA and EA are very well explained. This article provides comprehensive information about the two professions.

  4. The article provides valuable insight into the potential career paths and earnings of CPA and EA professionals.

  5. The comparison table is a great way to highlight the disparities between CPA and EA qualifications. This is a useful reference.


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