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How to Become A CPA

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CPA Exam Basics

Your 1-stop-shop to CPA requirements, exam content & structure, plus tips to pass!

To become a licensed CPA, you must first determine what your State Board of Accountancy’s requirements are to obtain licensure. Each state has its own unique set of requirements to sit for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA Exam) and to become a registered CPA in that state. Make sure you’re meeting your state’s requirements early on in the CPA process by contacting your State Board of Accountancy.

What Are the Steps to Become a CPA?

  • You must fulfill the education, age, and residence criteria in order to take the CPA Exam.
  • In addition to passing the CPA Exam, you must complete additional requirements to earn CPA certification or licensing. Those criteria include passing the ethics exam and gaining job experience, if applicable.
  • Professional work experience requirements differ by state, but CPA candidates should have completed 1-2 years of relevant and confirmed accounting experience, before they are eligible for licensure.

How can you keep yourself motivated to become a CPA?

Although the licensure process does require a lot of time, effort, and dedication, remember the myriad of benefits that come with those three letters after your name. Job security, increased salary, and improving both your professional and personal life are just a few. Learn more about what keeps a CPA applicant motivated from our guest blogger Margo on Remembering Why You Want to Become a CPA.

What Are the Requirements to sit for the CPA exam?

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How to Apply for the CPA Exam?

Applying for the CPA Exam may seem more challenging than taking the CPA Exam itself. After all, the application process has many distinct aspects, which make it a little complex–especially since requirements for the CPA Exam differ by state. One thing to keep in mind is that applicants for the CPA Exam can apply through either the State Board of Accountancy or the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). As soon as your CPA Exam application has been processed by NASBA and it’s decided that you are eligible to sit for the CPA Exam, you’re ready to schedule your CPA Exam.

What are the CPA License Requirements?

Along with passing the CPA Exam, you must meet additional requirements to get a CPA license or certification.  The CPA license is a prerequisite to practicing public accounting and is issued by the 50 US State Boards of Accountancy. CPA certification is the gold standard in the accounting profession, and it serves to uphold the professional standards that CPAs must meet.

Ethics Requirements

Most states require a CPA to take an ethics course or pass an ethics exam before they can be licensed.  Check with your State Board of Accountancy as you work toward your CPA certification.

Work Experience Requirements

Most employers require at least one to two years of experience in public accounting. While experience at a non-public accounting firm is often recognized, the number of years required is typically higher. Working under the supervision of a certified CPA before, during, or after taking the CPA Exam will count toward your experience.

Many firms give out bonuses (anywhere up to $5,000!) to candidates who finish and pass the CPA Exam in an allotted amount of time (usually 1 year). Afterward, the bonus amount can decrease the longer it takes you to pass. So finish the CPA Exam before that due date, and you may get that bonus even quicker!

Continued Education

Most state boards require CPAs to complete a particular number of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) hours within a given time frame after they have received CPA licensure. For further information, you can contact your state board.

International Candidates

International applicants who fulfill all of the qualifications for one of the State Boards of Accountancy can become CPAs in the United States. Most states and jurisdictions in the United States do not require international candidates to be citizens of the United States. Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, and Puerto Rico are among the states and jurisdictions that require US citizenship.

Note: International CPA applicants must be able to take the CPA Exam in English. You can learn more about CPA Requirements for International Candidates from our international candidates resource page.

Pay Fees and Get Your License

You can apply for the CPA certification through your State Board of Accountancy, pay the application fee, and acquire your license if you’ve completed all of the CPA prerequisites and passed the exam.
“The CPA process can take up to seven years. This includes four years to complete your bachelor’s degree, one year for your additional credit requirements, and one to two years of relevant job experience.”
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Read More about the CPA Exam

UWorld Roger CPA Review provides CPA candidates with all the study materials and resources needed to prepare and successfully pass the US Uniform CPA Exam online.

Learn about state CPA licensing requirements and exceptions.
Do you know how to schedule the CPA Exam? Use your NTS to schedule your exam without delays!
The CPA Exam is divided into four sections: AUD, FAR, BEC, and REG. Learn more here.
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The Elite-Unlimited course provides UNLIMITED continuing access to your course materials until you pass the CPA Exam! How does it work? Upon activating your course, you will have an initial 36 months of access. You can then renew your subscription as many times as you need to pass your exams—for FREE. Simply click the “renew” option in your student account and you can continue studying your high-quality course materials without losing any of your data and course progress.

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