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Certified Accounts Payable Associate (CAPA) Certification: Details on Examination and Certification for Accounts Payable Associates

Written by AnonymousAugust 30, 2011
"Certified Accounts Payable Associate"

If you’re looking to improve your career in accounting, obtaining an accounting certificate is an excellent first step. Accounting certifications can expand your accounting knowledge and increase your proficiency in a specific area of the accounting field.

Introduction to Certified Accounts Payable Associate Certification

Certified Accounts Payable Associate (CAPA) is a professional certificate that may be earned by accounts payable specialists. Becoming a CAPA shows that you’ve met the standards of competency as set forth by the International Accounts Payable Professionals (IAPP), as measured by the level and quality of your education, your related work experience, and an evaluation of your skills and knowledge.

If you want to be recognized for your professional achievements in the accounts payable field, you may want to consider earning your CAPA certification. Benefits of certification include

  • Validation of knowledge: A CAPA certification reflects a high level of general accounting proficiency, while demonstrating a commitment to continuing professional education
  • Enhanced professional credibility: Certification distinguishes you from non-certified professionals in the same field
  • Greater job opportunities: Becoming CAPA certified can make you more marketable to potential employers

Key Steps to Certified Accounts Payable Associate Certification

Earning your CAPA certification requires fulfilling a set of requirements outlined by International Accounts Payable Professionals (IAPP), which issues the credential. IAPP requires that you

  • Take and pass the CAPA certification exam
  • Consistently demonstrate sound ethical behavior and practices
  • Provide employment verification
  • Agree to uphold the IAPP Code of Ethics and its five core principles (integrity, objectivity, confidentiality, professional competency, and tone at the top)
  • Meet IAPP’s minimum education and experience criteria

Applicants must pay an exam registration fee, which is $175 for IAPP members and $275 for non-members. (In addition, applicants must pay a qualification application fee, which is $25 for IAPP members and $50 for non-members.)

In order to be eligible for certification, you must have already accumulated some work experience related to the accounts payable profession. If you have an associate’s degree or higher in accounting/finance, you need at least one year of experience in a relevant accounts payable position. If you don’t have a degree, you need at least three years of experience. Some examples of relevant work experience are:

  • Recovery audit
  • General finance and accounting
  • Support or implementation of an accounts payable process/function
  • Accounts payable auditor

Your work experience only counts toward earning your CAPA certificate if the work was completed within one year prior to taking your exam and must be verified in writing by your supervisor.

If you haven’t fulfilled these eligibility requirements, you may still take the exam, but if you pass it, you may not use the CAPA designation until all requirements have been met.

Details of the Certified Accounts Payable Associate Exam

The CAPA certification exam tests you on the tasks and duties crucial to being a competent accounts payable associate. The test is administered twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. The closed-book, proctored exam covers the following content:

  • Relationships and responsibilities: Including knowledge of customer relations and staff management (10 percent of the exam)
  • Processing functions: Invoice handling, matching, procurement card, and payment processing (34 percent of the exam)
  • Travel and entertainment: Including travel card administration and employee expense reporting (12 percent of the exam)
  • Controls: Understanding of vendor master files, cash management, audits, and fraud control measures (11 percent of the exam)
  • Tax and regulatory issues: Including tax reporting, sales and use, tax, and issues specific to minority or woman-owned businesses (24 percent of the exam)

Additional topics: General knowledge, accounting, technology, and so on (9 percent of the exam)

If you miss your exam date, you’re only allowed to reschedule your exam once. Any subsequent requests for rescheduling your exam requires you to pay the full exam fee again.

Because you aren’t penalized for getting a question wrong, the IAPP recommends that you try and answer all questions on the test — whether or not you’re sure of the answer — in order to maximize the chances of answering correctly.

Preparing for the Certified Accounts Payable Associate Exam

Detailed outlines of each topic can be found on the IAPP website, which also offers study materials and exam preparation classes for an additional fee. Hands-on experience as an accounts payable clerk is excellent preparation for the exam. In addition, reviewing the standard responsibilities of a basic accounts payable clerk found in any beginner’s book on bookkeeping is an ideal place to begin your preparation for the exam.

Preparing for the CAPA exam is a self-paced process that depends on the individual, but IAPP recommends studying for at least three months prior to taking the test.

Maintaining the Certified Accounts Payable Associate Designation

To maintain your CAPA certification, you must be recertified every two years, which is achieved by fulfilling the following requirements:

  • Earn 25 or more continuing professional education (CPE) credits
  • Pay the recertification fee if you aren’t an IAPP member(IAPP members may get recertified  at no charge)
  • Agree to uphold standards as outlined in the IAPP Code of Ethics

When you complete your required continuing professional education, you must report the credits you’ve completed to the IAPP twice a year. Activities that qualify as continuing professional education are formal educational programs that contribute directly to your professional competence and development. Some examples include

  • Additional classes  in finance and accounting
  • Maintaining subscriptions to industry publications
  • Delivering oral presentations on industry-related topics
  • Participating  in a relevant professional task or job

The amount of credit earned is determined by the length of the activity, with 50 minutes counting toward one CPE credit.

If you earn more than the required 25 CPE credits within a two-year term, you can’t carry the additional credits forward into a future term so only complete what you need during each two-year period.

Governing Board Information

The IAPP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the advancement of accounts payable professionals. They can be contacted through their affiliate:

The Institute of Financial Operations
615 East Colonial Drive
Orlando, FL 32803