A Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, is a qualified and certified accountant who meets the education and experience requirements to be a certified accountant and has passed the Uniform CPA Examination. CPA is a designation given by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and helps enforce standards in the accounting industry. Additionally, certified public accountants are subject to a code of ethics. While CPAs are known for their role in income tax preparation, CPAs also specialize in areas such as bookkeeping, forensic accounting, managerial accounting, information technology, and auditing. CPAs can also work their way into executive positions such as chief financial officers (CFOs).
To receive a CPA designation, individuals are required to have a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or business administration. Individuals are required to complete a specific number of hours of education, either 120 or 150 hours, and have no fewer than two years of experience in public accounting. All CPAs must pass the Uniform CPA Examination whose requirements vary by state and must complete a specific number of hours of continuing education every year. CPA requirements vary between all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The process involves meeting the specific eligibility requirements set forth by the state board of accountancy to which you applied.
In all 50 states and D.C., individuals must complete 150 hours of credits for a CPA license. Before July 1, 2015, Colorado only required 120 hours. After July 1, 2015, the requirement was increased to 150 hours with a Bachelor’s degree. Before June 30, 2014, New Hampshire required 120 hours. After June 30, 2014, the requirement was increased to 150 with a B.A. Before July 1, 2014, Vermont required 120 hours. After July 1, 2014, Vermont increased its requirement to 150 hours with a B.A.
The minimum age requirement for receiving a CPA license varies by state. Many states have no age requirement and others have requirements ranging from 18 to 21.
The following states require a minimum age of 18 years old to receive a CPA license:
Non-U.S. citizens may still qualify as licensed U.S. CPAs if they meet the Board of Accountancy eligibility requirements in one of the U.S. jurisdictions. The exam and licensure process is the same for international applicants as it is for U.S. citizens. The following states, however, require U.S. citizenship to sit for the CPA exam: Alabama, Hawaii, Louisiana, and North Carolina.
In many states, applicants do not need to be a resident of that state to sit for that state’s CPA exam. The following states, however, do require residency:
In addition to the aforementioned requirements, the majority of U.S. states require that the individual applying to become a CPA have a Social Security Number (SSN). The following states do not require an SSN:
Visit the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy website for more information regarding exams, licensure, and requirements for each state.
Credits To Sit For Exam
Credits for License
|Alabama||150||150||19||Two-tiered states. CPA certificate is issued when exam is passed. License/permit to practice is issued upon CER|
|Kansas||150||150||None||Two-tiered states. CPA certificate is issued when exam is passed. License/permit to practice is issued upon CER|
|Nebraska||150||150||None||Two-tiered states. CPA certificate is issued when exam is passed. License/permit to practice is issued upon CER|
|Hawaii||120 (BA) or within 120 days of completing BA||150||18|
|Iowa||120 (BA) or within 120 days of completing BA||150||None|
|Maine||120 (BA) or within 120 days of completing BA||150||None|
|Minnesota||120 (BA) or within 120 days of completing BA||150||None|
|Vermont||120 (BA) or within 60 days of completing BA||120||None|
|Alaska||120 (BA) or within 18 sem. hours of completing BA||150||19|
|New Hampshire||120 (BA)||120B||None|
|New Jersey||120 (BA)||150||18|
|New Mexico||120 (BA)||150||None|
|New York||120 (BA)||150||21|
|North Carolina||120 (BA)||150||18|
|Rhode Island||120 (BA)||150||None|
|South Carolina||120 (BA)||150||18|
|West Virginia||120 (BA)||150||18|
|Tennessee||Within 200 days of CER||150||None|
|Washington||Within 180 days of CER||150||None|
|South Dakota||Within 100 days of CER||150||None|
|Missouri||Within 60 days of CER||150||21|
|Wisconsin||Within 60 days of CER||150||18|
|North Dakota||Within 6 months of CER||150||None|
|Indiana||varies (see Additional Details)||150||18||Required credits to sit for exam are either 24 semester hours/equivalent quarter hours in undergraduate accounting, 15 semester hours/equivalent quarter hours in graduate level accounting, or a equivalent combination of both.|