Chartered Tax Professional vs Enrolled Agent: What’s the Difference

Chartered Tax Professional vs Enrolled Agent: What's the Difference

When considering a career as a tax professional, it’s important to know the various types of designations and certifications available. While becoming an enrolled agent (EA) is one of the most common paths for tax professionals, you should also consider becoming a Chartered Tax Professional (CTP®), which is a designation offered exclusively from Surgent’s Income Tax School

But, what are the major differences between a chartered tax professional and an enrolled agent? Which path is right for you?  

While both designations are desirable, there are some key differences. In this article, our experts will explore the differences between chartered tax professionals and enrolled agents, answer these questions and more. 

What is a chartered tax professional? 

A Chartered Tax Professional (CTP®) is someone who has completed a specific series of tax courses in individual tax preparation through Surgent Income Tax School and completed a 300-hour experience requirement. This innovative online certificate program is available exclusively from Surgent Income Tax School. 

No prior tax knowledge is required to begin a CTP® certification and the course empowers students to begin working after just one course. New additions to the CTP program include revised content with more than 60 lecture videos, useful pointers that can be applied to daily work, relevant updates and more.  

Professionals who complete the Chartered Tax Professional program are highly skilled in tax preparation, planning and compliance. They are experts in tax law and regulations and can provide advice on a wide range of tax-related issues. 

Completing this coursework provides you with the foundational knowledge you’ll need to be an excellent tax preparer, and sets you up perfectly to pass the IRS Special Enrollment Exam (SEE), which is a test required to become an enrolled agent in the United States. 

Why should I become a chartered tax professional? 

Becoming a chartered tax professional is a significant achievement and requires a great deal of dedication and hard work. There are many benefits to becoming a CTP, including: 

  • Earning the CTP® designation shows a higher level of proficiency in tax. This can help you get hired at an establish tax firm and help you promote your skills to new clients. 
  • Becoming a chartered tax professional can lead to increased earning potential. By proving a higher level of proficiency, you’ll be able to take on more complicated tax returns and charge a higher rate for your services. 
  • Becoming a chartered tax professional demonstrates a commitment to professional development and a dedication to providing clients with the highest level of service. 
  • CTPs can prepare all types of tax returns, which means you’ll be able to serve all types of clients. 
  • While pursuing your CTP, you’re gaining knowledge that prepares you for the EA Exam. 

What is an enrolled agent? 

An enrolled agent is a tax professional who is licensed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to represent taxpayers before the IRS. EAs are authorized to prepare and file tax returns, as well as negotiate with the IRS on behalf of their clients. 

Enrolled agents are required to pass a comprehensive exam that covers all aspects of federal tax law. In total, EA status is the highest certification granted by the IRS. They also must complete ongoing training to ensure they stay up-to-date on changes to tax laws and regulations. They’re required to complete a total of 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.  

Enrolled agents, like certified public accountants and attorneys, have unrestricted practice rights. This means that there are no limitations to the taxpayers they can represent, the types of tax issues they can handle or the IRS offices before which they can represent their clients. 

Why should I become an enrolled agent? 

Becoming an enrolled agent is a great option for those who are interested in specializing in tax law and want to work directly with clients. There are many benefits to becoming an Enrolled Agent, including: 

  • EAs are authorized to represent clients in front of the IRS, which can be a valuable service for individuals and businesses who are facing tax-related issues. 
  • Becoming an EA can lead to increased earning potential as enrolled agents are highly qualified tax professionals and are often in high demand. 
  • Becoming an EA showcases a strong devotion to enhancing professional skills and ensuring clients receive top-notch services. 

Surgent provides the training you need 

Surgent provides the necessary tools and resources for individuals aspiring to become either a chartered tax professional or an enrolled agent.  

For those aiming to be chartered tax professionals, Surgent Income Tax School offers a comprehensive and industry-exclusive Chartered Tax Professional Certificate Program that equips candidates with the necessary skills to excel in the field. Surgent also provides CPE courses to ensure that tax professionals remain compliant with any changes in tax laws or legislation.  

If you are interested in becoming an enrolled agent, the CTP program is the best way to learn the ins and outs of tax preparation. Surgent EA Review also offers the top-rated EA Exam prep course on the market. These two together will set you up perfectly to pass the SEE exam. You can find additional benefits of Surgent EA Review on the Surgent website. 


Chartered tax professionals and enrolled agents are both highly qualified tax professionals who can provide valuable services to individuals and businesses. While there are some key differences, both are accredited and authorized to provide tax-related services. 

Whether you choose to become a chartered tax professional or an enrolled agent, it’s important for your clients to work with someone who is knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated to providing the highest level of service. 

To continue in your tax professional educational journey, visit Surgent Income Tax School and search for CPE courses that will help differentiate you from the competition. Surgent Income Tax School can help you learn how to start and grow your own business while Surgent EA Review is perfect for folks who want to become an enrolled agent or chartered tax professional.