Take Charge of Your Career

Five-step guide helps current and aspiring CPAs with their career planning.

May 17, 2007
by Kayla Briggs

What do Ajilon Finance, Robert Half and Monster.com have in common? If you answered "competency advertising" then you are on the right track. So why are competencies the differential? Competencies are what each CPA has and brings with them (their value add) to solve business issues.

The AICPA developed a tool to help aspiring and current CPAs through each state of their career and continuous learning plans. The AICPA Competency Self-Assessment Tool (CAT) covers the following four competency categories:

  • Personal Attributes — the characteristics that enable the CPA to attract others to well reasoned and logical points of view, to effectively communicate and to relate to others.

  • Leadership Qualities — the skills that allow the CPA to assume a position of influence by assembling and leveraging a variety of resources that address problems and opportunities throughout the organization.

  • Broad Business Perspective — the body of knowledge that encompasses an understanding of the organization and accounting practices and applicability.

  • Functional Specialty — the technical skills for a particular area (i.e., business and industry; audit; employee benefit plan audit; government; tax; business valuation; fraud prevention, detection, & investigation; personal financial planning and eldercare; etc.).
Currently, CAT has nine competency models (as mentioned above) and is developing one for CPAs on information technology. This tool is a great way for aspiring and current CPAs to personalize their career development and continuous learning plans based upon their areas for development. Also, if a CPA wants to change from one area to another, for example, from audit to tax, they can conduct a self-assessment to help focus on the required competencies. The test is also available for those CPAs who want to specialize in a particular area, such as Personal Financial Planning, Business Valuation, Information Technology, etc.
For additional information download the publication (PDF).
Use this five-step guide to take charge of your career now. This guide is intended to help both current and aspiring CPAs with their career planning.

Kayla Briggs is currently Competency Champion at the American Institute of CPAs. She is involved in various aspects of developing competency models and tools for CPAs for use in their professional assessment, continuous learning opportunities, and career development. Previously Kayla was at Lucent Technologies as Senior Manager involved in recruiting and selecting candidates for the CFO Financial Leadership Development Program (FLDP).