How to Become a CPA Steps & Certification Requirements

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The lenient ones will allow you to work any job in an accounting firm and some will even allow you to work in academia or the government. The more strict states often require that you work directly under a licensed and practicing CPA doing audit work. I’m sure you know by now that the CPA credential is regulated by individual states. This means that each state sets its own requirements and rules for the certification process. Here’s a general guideline for how these CPA requirements typically work.

If you decide that you’d like to have a specialty, you may want to learn more about getting a certification. This can show potential clients that you’ve put in the extra work necessary to become an expert in your chosen specialty. If you happened to fall into the 50% of people who do not pass the exam, you have some decisions to make about when you schedule a CPA exam next. There are two basic schools of thought when it comes to rescheduling an exam after failing. Some people believe that it makes sense to reschedule the exam right away, while the material you’ve studied is still fresh in your mind. Others believe that it makes sense to wait and analyze your results, finding your areas of weakness, and then taking some time to work on those areas before you attempt to take the exam again.

It’s important to note that states have different CPE requirements and deadlines. For example, states have different requirements for the number of hours of ethics CPE you’ll have to do, and accept various types of education. It’s always best to check your state’s rules and regulations before starting your CPE. As an aspiring CPA, you might want to consider an online accounting degree program, which offers convenience and flexibility, especially when working full time while going to school. Online programs may also provide a flexible or accelerated format. You might like to consider the Online Master’s of Accounting (iMSA), offered by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Remember that nearly every state requires some type of documented work experience for you to obtain licensure, even though this work experience is not required to take the Uniform CPA exam. The next step is to find out if you need to be a resident in your state. You will need to provide your social security number, age, and start thinking about where you want to work. Once you complete these steps and have this information in order, you will then take the Uniform CPA exam.

  • Getting your master’s in accounting at a new school often takes longer (two years rather than one), but it can be less intensive because your schedule is more spread out.
  • If you’re a freshman, sophomore, or junior worried about college admissions, our world-class admissions counselors can help.
  • However, you will need to complete any additional educational requirements to apply for the actual license.
  • After receiving your test scores, you must wait 24 hours to reapply for the same section.

For those wondering how to become a CPA, the process begins with a bachelor’s degree, culminating with a CPA license. Candidates must first pass a challenging four-section test known as the Uniform CPA Examination. is committed to delivering content that is objective and actionable. To that end, we have built a network of industry professionals across higher education to review our content and ensure we are providing the most helpful information to our readers. Accounting clerks provide vital support to accounting departments through tasks such as invoice processing, data entry, record keeping, basic financial analysis, and more. Their accuracy and organization are essential to the smooth operation of the department and overall organization.

Save 25% on Surgent CPA Review’s Premier or Essentials Pass!

NASBA offers information and links to the 55 jurisdictional accountancy boards that operate in the United States. Consult the board specific to the jurisdiction where you plan to work for details on local licensure requirements. While this isn’t a CPA Exam requirement, all states and territories do have an experience requirement to gain licensure. Most states require CPAs to have one to two years of experience, though not necessarily in public accounting.

They research how their clients’ or employers’ financial performance measures up to the market overall. Using their expertise, they can guide organizational policy and help executives plan for the future. Therefore, once you narrow down your state board options, you might want to confirm that they accept part-time work by emailing them directly.

WGU is an accredited online university offering online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Some people may choose to become CPAs because of the online store accounting stability and competitive pay the career provides. Your work experience and the education you have will determine the amount you can make per year.

What Can You Do With an Associate Accounting Degree? 6 Jobs to Consider

You must also have 120 semester units within the subjects listed below. Getting a CPA in each state mandates different requirements for taking the CPA Exam and becoming a licensed CPA. In order to be eligible for the CPA Exam, California requires candidates to meet certain education and experience requirements. If you’re an accounting major, you can combine your undergraduate accounting degree with a master’s degree at the same school or at a different one. Or, you can even just take non-degree courses from an accredited educational institution.

CPA Licensure Requirement Categories

If you’re ready to kick off your journey, you can do so by launching a side hustle or small enterprise tailored to your passions. Your financial skills can be leveraged to craft business plans, oversee budgets and keep an eye on start-up cash flow. It is important to remember that all states necessitate that your college credits come from an accredited institution. This is especially vital to keep in mind when you are gathering your 30 extra college credits after your Bachelor’s (to make up the total 150).

The AICPA does not specifically require CPA candidates to have a graduate-level degree such as a Master of Accountancy (MAcc), Master of Science in Taxation (MST), or an MBA. Since people need to fill that 30 credit hour gap, many people who want to become a CPA choose to earn a master’s degree as a way to fulfill their education requirements. However, it’s important to remember that grad school is just one way to earn those extra credit hours. A certified public accountant (CPA) is an accounting professional who has met certain education, exam, and experience requirements for licensure by a state board of accountancy.

If you want to be an accountant, then you need to major in (you guessed it!) accounting. Technically, you don’t need to have a degree in accounting to become an accountant or a CPA, you’re just required to have a bachelor’s degree in any field. You can absolutely choose to double major though, if that’s something you’re interested in. In addition to the required college coursework, some states have additional experience requirements that students must fulfill to be eligible to sit for the CPA Exam. Most states require a year of experience working under a licensed CPA before you can be licensed, and other states require more experience.

Many students find the FAR section the hardest to pass because it covers the most information, so it’s recommended that you take that section first to get it out of the way. You take each part of the exam individually, in any order that you like. Once you pass your first exam section, you have 18 months to pass the other three.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About CPAs

As you approach the exam, be aware of the additional preparation time you may have to invest in order to address your specific weaknesses and build that into your preparation strategy. The path to CPA for non-accounting majors might seem more challenging, but  take stock of your situation and create a plan tailored to your life. Designed for students who need flexibility in their study schedule. This online option allows you to study when and where it’s most convenient for you, and is perfect for accountants looking to study for the CPA Exam while working full-time.

CPA FAQ: Do I need a bachelor’s in accounting to become a CPA?

They usually run from January through March, April through June, July through September, and October through December. To understand how CPA exam scoring works, it’s important to understand how it doesn’t work. First, exam scores are not percentages (a 75 doesn’t mean you got 75% of questions right).

As we’ve outlined in the article How to Become a CPA Accountant, applying for the CPA exam is a little bit complicated. First, you will need an Authorisation to Test (ATT), and then you will receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS) from NASBA. Fortunately, there are a number of states that allow nonresidents to take the CPA Exam. However, some states stipulate that a CPA candidate must be a resident for at least six months before sitting for the exam.

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