The Meaning of CPA: What It Is and How To Use It

What does it mean if someone tells you they are a CPA? Keep reading to learn the meaning of CPA and alternate definitions of the acronym CPA.

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Have you ever seen the acronym CPA on a business card? This article will predominantly cover the most common meaning of the term CPA but will also touch on other various meanings of CPA. Let’s get started!

What Does CPA Stand For?

According to Investopedia and Accounting Edu, CPA stands for certified public accountant. In order to become a CPA, a person has to get a license from the state Board of Accountancy, The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), and The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). 

CPAs have many requirements for education and training. Often, a CPA must have a Bachelor’s degree in a specific subject or other equivalent professional education to gain eligibility for licensure and to gain work experience requirements. They must also pass the uniform CPA exam to receive a CPA certification from their state’s board.

With a CPA license, people can practice specialities such as public accounting, income tax preparation, forensic accounting services, financial accounting, estate planning, auditing services, or become the CFO (chief financial officer) of a company. 

CPAs could also act as consultants to other companies or as a financial analyst rather than work for private or public accounting firms. They could advise on a company’s financial statements. It is important to practice professionalism as a CPA.

To be a part of the CPA profession, a person must meet the state’s requirements for the state they will practice in. Different jurisdictions have different requirements for the regulation of CPAs, requirements for CPE (continuing public education), and more. In other countries, a CPA might be called a CA or a chartered accountant.

What Are Other Meanings of CPA? 

The Free Dictionary states that CPA has various meanings other than certified public accountant. If certified public accountant doesn’t make sense in a certain context, someone might be using CPA to stand for one of the below meanings.

Meanings of CPA in Technology

Folks in tech use various meanings of CPA, including:

  • Computer Programmer Analyst
  • Collaboration Protocol Agreement (ebXML)
  • Channel Port Adapter (Cisco)
  • Collaboration-Protocol Agreement (Oasis)
  • Collaboration Protocol Agreement
  • Cost per Acquisition
  • Consolidated Payments Architecture
  • Crashdump Pool Analyzer
  • Control Panel
  • Cisco Personal Assistant
  • Channel Port Adapter
  • Computer Press Association
  • Correlation Power Analysis
  • Content Provider Access
  • Communicating Process Architectures
  • Corpus Pattern Analysis (computational linguistics)
  • Call Progress Analysis
  • Called Party Address
  • Chosen-Plaintext Attack
  • Common Payment Application (smart chip card industry)
  • Computing Processes and Artifacts
  • Cost Per Acquisition/Action (internet advertisement)
  • Content Portal Authority (SurfControl)
  • Comment Pending Approval
  • Combined Paging/Access
  • Customer-Provided Access
  • Centralized/Bulk Power Architecture
  • Common Programming APIs
  • Computer Patents Annuities
  • Colorado Payphone Association
  • Common Process Architecture (software engineering)
  • Computer Program Abstracts (NASA)
  • Calling Party Answer (ITU-T)
  • Contiguous Processor Allocation
  • Critical Parametric Analysis
  • Coordinated Purchase Agreement
  • Common Paging and Access

Meanings of CPA in Science

Scientists might use CPA to stand for one of the below definitions:

  • Canadian Psychological Association
  • Care Programme Approach (UK mental health policy)
  • Clinical Pathology Accreditation (UK)
  • Consolidated Plan of Action 
  • Chirped Pulse Amplification
  • Critical Path Analysis
  • Coherent Potential Approximation
  • Circulating Platelet Aggregation
  • Childhood Physical Abuse
  • California Psychiatric Association
  • Connector Position Assurance
  • Cell Proliferation Assay
  • Copolymer Alloy
  • Canadian Petroleum Association
  • Consumer Protection Act of 1991
  • Cubic-Plus-Association (equation of state)
  • Connecticut Pharmacists Association
  • Ciencias Psicosociales Aplicadas 
  • Cold Plasma Analyzer
  • Co-Polar Attenuation
  • Charged Particle Analyzer
  • Centre for Proteome Analysis
  • Clinical Pathology Associates (Austin, TX)
  • Cyprus Pharmaceutical Association
  • Concurrent Photon Amplification
  • Coupled-Pair Approximation
  • Connecticut Perinatal Association
  • Customer Product Audit
  • Comprehensive Peer Assessment
  • Charged-Particle Analysis
  • Circular Patch Antenna
  • Contingency Planning Aid (NASA)
  • Circular Probable Area
  • Conventional Patch Antenna

Meanings of CPA in Business

In business, CPA has many potential meanings, too!

  • Cost Per Action
  • Comprehensive Performance Assessment
  • Canadian Payroll Association
  • Cathay Pacific Airways
  • Chartered Public Accountant
  • Critical Perspectives on Accounting (journal)
  • Corporate Performance Assessment
  • Credit Protection Association (various locations)
  • Consumer Protection Agency (Egypt)
  • Centre de Perfectionnement aux Affaires 
  • Continuous Payment Authority (automatic accounts)
  • Construction Plant-Hire Association (UK)
  • Comité des Plastiques en Agriculture (
  • Cost Plus Award
  • Customer Profitability Analysis
  • Cell Phone Amplifier (hearing aid)
  • Champagne Parc Auto (French auto park)
  • Canadian Pacific Airlines
  • Cost and Price Analysis
  • Center for Profitable Agriculture
  • Cornish Pasty Association (UK)
  • Chartered Patent Agent (UK)
  • Compulsory Purchase Annuity (UK)
  • Corrective & Preventive Action (quality assurance systems)
  • Christmas Prepayment Association (UK)
  • Corrugated Packaging Association
  • Contract Price Adjustment
  • Central Purchasing Authority
  • Consumer Protection Appraisal
  • Corporate Purchase Agreement
  • Customer Product Advisor
  • Customer Price Agreement
  • Contract Property Administrator
  • Children’s Psychology Associates
  • Cash Purchasing Agent
  • Control Purchasing Authority
  • Conversion Pad Assembly (chemical demil plants)
  • Case Processing Associate

Meanings of CPA in Government

If you work for the government, you might hear CPA used to mean one of the below definitions:

  • Citizens’ Police Academy
  • Comprehensive Peace Agreement (Sudan)
  • Construction and Planning Agency (various locations)
  • Civilian Production Administration
  • Comprehensive Plan Amendment
  • Closest Point of Approach
  • Crime Prevention Act (various locations)
  • Core Public Administration
  • Community Planning Act (various locations)
  • Community Property Agreement (legal document)
  • Consumer Protection Association (UK)
  • Chairman’s Program Assessment (US DoD)
  • Commonwealth Ports Authority
  • Christian Police Association (UK)
  • Countywide Planning Authority (Florida)
  • Canada Port Authority
  • Core Program Area (Uganda)
  • Chief of Public Affairs
  • Canaveral Port Authority
  • Chartered Patent Attorney
  • Chief Patrol Agent (US Border Patrol)
  • Crime Pattern Analysis
  • Central Planning Area
  • Cultural Property Advice (UK)
  • Cost Performance Analysis
  • Command Processor Assembly
  • Controller Processing Assembly
  • Communications Planning Aid
  • Commander’s Personal Attention
  • Cost Planning & Appraisal
  • Cost/Personal Accounting
  • Communications Power Assembly
  • Capability Provisioning Activity (NECC program)
  • Cargo Preference Act of 1954

Meanings of CPA as Slang Terms

CPA can also be used as a slang term! Have you ever used any of these phrase in your daily life?

  • Casual Players Alliance (website)
  • Chartres Poker Association (France)
  • Car Park Attendant
  • Cut and Paste Artist
  • Constant Pain in the Ass


CPA stands for certified public accountant. This is a specific type of accountant that has gone through rigorous training and education.


  1. CPA – What does CPA stand for? | The Free Dictionary 
  2. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Definition | Investopedia
  3. What Is a CPA & What Do They Do? | Accounting Edu