CPA Certification Requirements For Students Seeking Their CPA License


To become certified public accountants, candidates have to meet strict CPA certification requirements. To prepare adequately, comprehensive knowledge about CPA certification requirements is particularly helpful. CPA certification requirements encompass technical competency, analytical skills, people skills, communication skills and strong ethical values. As a result, CPAs gain the ability to analyze business problems and superior interpersonal skills. This skill set ultimately benefits employers who hire CPAs.

However, educational qualification is not enough for obtaining CPA certification. CPA candidates also must clear the uniform CPA exam and acquire sufficient experience. CPA certification requirements have been designed to protect public interests. They ensure that only the most qualified candidates get licensed as CPAs. This post will attempt to shed light on the different aspects of CPA certification requirements.

CPA Certification Requirements Vary By State

The CPA licensing authority falls under state jurisdiction. Consequently, the CPA certification requirements are determined by the state, district or country Board of Accountancy. These institutions try to maintain high licensing standards set by American Institute of CPAs. Nonetheless, CPA certification requirements tend to differ from one state to another. Although the uniform CPA exam is same for all states in the USA, the CPA eligibility criteria varies too. CPA candidates should find out the exact CPA certification requirements for the state where they want to practice.

Educational Requirements For CPA Certification

A certified public accountant must have extensive knowledge about accounting and business related topics. Four year undergraduate degrees do not offer enough knowledge for a CPA. In total, 150 semester hours of education is requisite of CPA certification. Specifically, 24 hours of the 150 semester hours should be earned from accounting coursework. To fulfill this educational requirement, students should start by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting. As the bachelor’s degree course encompasses just about 120 credit hours, students have to add extra education credits. A good strategy is to complete a master’s degree to achieve the total 150 semester hours of education. With all of that education, you can be pretty sure that candidates have a working knowledge of accounting and business.

Examination Requirements For CPA Certification

The uniform CPA exam is the official CPA examination in the United States. It evaluates the knowledge and analytical abilities of CPA candidates. The results of uniform CPA exam are used for licensure in all the US states. A candidate has to score at least 75 to pass the exam. The four parts of the uniform CPA exam include: auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting and regulation. Candidates can take all the four parts of CPA exam in the same exam window. Or, they can schedule the different sections separately. However, all four parts must be completed within 18 months of sitting for the first part.

Experience Requirements for CPA Certification

CPA certification requirements include a minimum amount of experience. Before taking the uniform CPA exam, CPA candidates have to obtain one year of supervised working experience. Accountants can secure an entry level job in public accounting, corporate accounting or finance departments. The job experience enables candidates to tackle tax filing, audit preparation and preparing financial statements efficiently.

CPA License Hour Requirements

If you are looking to obtain your CPA certification, there is a specified number of semester hours required in order to apply for your license. You will need at least 150 semester hours of education. According to the American Institute of CPA’s, a four year undergrad program is simply not enough to adequately prepare for a position as a certified public accountant. A CPA should be able to do more than your average free accounting software. In order to reach this hour requirement, you can combine a bachelors with some graduate level courses. Or, you can choose to complete a post baccalaureate accounting program or enroll in an integrated five year accounting school. It is up to you to answer the question “is an MBA worth it for a CPA career?” No matter which method you choose, if you want to become a licensed CPA you must complete the 150 semester hour requirement.

Even after passing the uniform CPA exam, many states require additional working experience, to obtain CPA certification. To monitor working experience, licensed CPAs supervise and document the candidates’ experience in accounting. Employers must also fill out particular forms, documenting the candidate’s attested experience. Once the state’s experience requirements have been met, candidates finally become eligible for CPA certification.

The strict CPA certification requirements put candidates through a rigorous process. However, the requirements are necessary to filter out inexperienced or unqualified accountants. More importantly, once you have achieved CPA certification, numerous rewarding career options will open up for you because companies know that you are truly qualified.

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