To become a Certified Public Accountant, you need to meet the requirements of the U.S. jurisdiction in which you intend to practice. There are 55 Boards of Accountancy comprising the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Certification requirements vary between jurisdictions and are subject to change periodically. NASBA, in conjunction with the AICPA and Prometric, will now offer the Uniform CPA Examination in Japan, Brazil, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.
To qualify for certification, you must meet the Board of Accountancy’s educational, examination, experience, and residency requirements. For the most up-to-date requirements we recommend you visit the NASBA Members Web page.Summary of Basic Requirements:
Education: In most jurisdictions, CPA Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher at a college or university level at an academic institution recognized by the Board of Accountancy. (The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants recommends at least 150 semester hours of college are needed to obtain the common body of knowledge necessary to become a CPA.)
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Applicants who have attended or graduated from an international college or university may be required to get a professional evaluation of their transcript(s). The transcript evaluation must show a course-by-course breakdown of accounting, business-related, and general education subjects. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure the timely submission of transcripts for this evaluation. Visit your jurisdiction’s Board of Accountancy website for a list of international credential evaluation services recognized by your board.
Pass the CPA Examination: The applicant must successfully pass all four parts of the Uniform CPA Examination with minimum scores of 75% within an 18-month period. To take the exam, you must apply and meet the educational eligibility requirements in the jurisdiction where you plan to practice. This exam is designed to assess the knowledge and skills that entry-level CPAs need to practice public accountancy. The successful completion of the exam is a requirement in all 55 jurisdictions. Subjects covered on the exam include Auditing & Attestation, Financial Accounting & Reporting, Regulation, and Business Environment & Concepts.
Pass An Ethics Examination: In addition, certain jurisdictions require you to take the AICPA Ethics course (or an equivalent program) and successfully pass the ethics examination.
Experience: A number of Boards of Accountancy require that applicants obtain a certain amount of professional work experience in public accounting under the direct supervision of an actively licensed CPA, or have accounting experience that the board deems equivalent.
Residency Requirements: In some jurisdictions, applicants are required to prove residency by either residing in the state, maintaining a place of business as a public accountant, or by being permanently employed by a public accounting firm within the state.
Summary of Requirements by State: A general summary of the CPA requirements by state can be downloaded from the NASBA Licensure and Practice web page. This chart provides guidelines in terms of citizenship, residency, education, and experience necessary for certification or licensure. This chart is also available in the Digest of State Accountancy Laws and State Board Regulation, which can be ordered by contacting the AICPA at 888-777-7077.
Obtaining Certification and Licensure: The final step in obtaining CPA certification and licensure within the jurisdiction in which you intend to practice is to submit an application and appropriate fees to the Board of Accountancy. (Certain jurisdictions have a two step process providing both a certificate to practice and licensure.)
After earning CPA licensure, most states also require that you take specified amounts of professional education courses annually to retain your professional license to practice.
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