Why Become an Accredited Petroleum Accountant®

by Patricia Ellington, APA® Credential Holder

Over the past 18 months a few colleagues and I have discussed the advantages of becoming an Accredited Petroleum Accountant® (APA®)1. While we had specific personal goals relative to our own lives and careers, we identified three main reasons to get APA® certified:

  1. To prove our knowledge
  2. To be distinguished as top tier in our profession
  3. To advance our careers

Let’s take a deeper look at these three main benefits of becoming an APA®.

1. Prove your knowledge.

As petroleum accounting professionals, we wanted to prove to ourselves that we had the industry knowledge to pass the exam.

You might see the words “accountant” and “petroleum” and think the exam only has questions like these:

  • “How do you record a transaction for gas revenue?”
  • “Where on the financials would intangible drilling costs be included?”
  • “The calculation for DD&A includes what assets?”  

That isn’t the case. There are questions like these, yes, but the APA® exam covers all areas within the petroleum industry. 

A candidate taking the exam must know the types of hydrocarbons, including byproducts, and know how these products are explored for, drilled, produced, transferred, and processed; how these products are accounted for; and the regulations involved.

Here is a high-level table of topics.

UpstreamMidstreamDownstream
Land and leasingTypes of Revenue StreamsRefining/Petrochemicals
ExplorationPipelinesHydrocarbons Inventory Management
DrillingOil in MidstreamMarketing (wholesale/retail)
ProductionNatural Gas MidstreamKey Industry Metrics
Revenue ReportingEH&S – Incident PreventionAsset Retirement Obligation (ARO)
Joint InterestEH&S – Regulatory environmentAcquisitions and Divestitures
Key Industry MetricsEH&S – Remediation managementTaxes

This accreditation also proves to peers, employers, people in the industry, and the general public that you have the knowledge to meet any challenging accounting, finance or business situation faced in industry.

2. Be recognized as top tier in the petroleum accounting profession.

The APA® accreditation distinguishes its holders as top in the field of petroleum accountants.   

COPAS initiated the Accredited Petroleum Accountant® certification program in 1996. Its purpose is to certify accountants within the oil and gas industry and to ensure that practicing petroleum accountants are proficient in the basic elements of knowledge essential for oil and gas accounting.”2  

There are prerequisites to applying for the exam and stringent exam procedures. The exam contains 160 multiple choice questions—a massive amount of information narrowed down to 160 questions means you must know the information.

Becoming an APA® is an earned honor and privilege. As with most accreditations, the APA® requires the holder to maintain continuing education and uphold the APA® Code of Ethics.

3. Advance in your profession.

This is more subjective because “advance in your profession” means something different from person to person. Among my colleagues, these concepts included increased confidence, having a better chance at internal promotions, and gaining more clients or engagements within the industry.  

Being an APA® is a boost to your self-esteem. It indicates you know your “stuff.” This confidence may increase your chances of advancement and in building trust relationships with prospects and clients.  

Being certified can increase your chances of promotions within your company. Many times, internal promotions are decided by upper management who may not know you personally.

They’re looking at qualifications on paper. Showcasing your status as an Accredited Petroleum Accountant® will help you stand out. Also, just as you would stand out within a company, displaying the APA® behind your name will differentiate you from your competition as a petroleum consultant.  

Discover the benefits of APA® certification for yourself.

In summary, there are many reasons why you should become an Accredited Petroleum Accountant®. The three discussed above may encourage you to look into it further. You may want to prove to yourself you can achieve the honor, you may be looking for a promotion, or you may want to increase your engagements. Whatever your reasons, take the opportunity to be your best and join those in our industry that can call themselves an Accredited Petroleum Accountant® (APA®). Visit the APA® Program Overview page or contact the APA® Administrator at (303) 300-1131 to know more!

1. Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies, Inc. (COPAS) (2009-01-27). U.S. Reg. No.3,566,586 and U.S. Reg. No. 3,411,398 Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

2. THE ACCREDITED PETROLEUM ACCOUNTANT® CERTIFICATION CANDIDATE HANDBOOK published February 4, 2019 [https://www.copas.org/wp-content/uploads/APA_Certification_Candidate_Handbook.pdf