CPA Exam and License

CPA Exam and License

To protect the public from individuals who are not qualified to express opinions on financial statements, all states impose strict licensing requirements for the practice of public accounting. A CPA license is required in most states to perform independent audits. The state boards of accountancy, which are the regulatory agencies for each state, set the requirements for licensing. To become a CPA and practice public accounting, there are generally four basic requirements:

Education: Applicants must provide evidence of a baccalaureate or higher degree, or foreign equivalency, in any subject, a total of 150-semester units, including a minimum of 24 semester units of accounting subjects, a minimum of 24-semester units of business-related subjects, a minimum of 20-semester units of accounting study, and 10-semester units of ethics study.

Passing the CPA examination: The CPA candidate must pass all four parts of a uniform CPA examination. The exam is developed by the AICPA and administered four times each year in all U.S. states and territories. The CPA exam is a computer-based test and consists of the following four parts:

  • Auditing and Attestation (4 Hours)
  • Regulation (4 Hours )
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (4 Hours)
  • Business Environment & Concepts (4 Hours)

Experience. One year of general experience includes any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills. The experience shall include 500 hours of attesting for those wishing to sign attest reports.
Satisfying state requirements for education and experience, successful candidates are awarded the CPA certificate by a state. A new CPA must then pay a fee to obtain a state license to practice. All states have reciprocity laws, allowing a CPA to move to another state to get a new license from that state without having to take the uniform CPA exam again.

Educational Requirements for CPA Licensure