Chapter FourAccounting as a Profession: Characteristics of a Profession

In the mid‐twentieth century in the United States, when the discipline of accounting was seeking the status of a profession, the Commission on Standards of Education and Experience for Certified Public Accountants issued a report that listed the following seven characteristics of a profession:

  1. A specialized body of knowledge.
  2. A recognized formal education process for acquiring the requisite specialized knowledge.
  3. A standard of professional qualifications governing admission to the profession.
  4. A standard of conduct governing the relationship of the practitioner with clients, colleagues, and the public.
  5. Recognition of status.
  6. An acceptance of social responsibility inherent in an occupation endowed with the public interest.
  7. An organization devoted to the advancement of the social obligations of the group.1

It is obvious that accounting meets the first two characteristics. Accounting is a complicated discipline that requires formal study to become an expert. To become a certified public accountant (CPA) usually requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting, as well as passing the rigorous CPA exam. Retaining CPA status requires staying abreast of the latest developments with continuing education.

In meeting the third standard, the accounting profession is like many other groups that have banded together to serve the general public from a position of expertise. Doctors, attorneys, teachers, engineers, and others ...

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