How do CPA Requirements Differ by State?
Each state and jurisdiction’s Board of Accountancy maintains autonomous licensing authority over the CPAs that engage clients within its boarders. Although the process for attaining CPA licensure in all states and jurisdictions consists of the same basic steps, each Board has its own specific requirements that must be met. In all cases, becoming a CPA would involve fulfilling state or jurisdiction specific requirements and processes for the qualification, issuance, and maintenance of a CPA license.
In accordance with the Uniform Accountancy Act, all state and jurisdiction Boards qualify CPA candidates for licensure within the general framework of the “Three Es” (education, exam, experience):
Education – All CPA candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree, at minimum, and have no fewer than 150 semester hours of formal education.
Examination – All CPA candidates must achieve a passing score on the Uniform CPA Exam.
Experience – All CPA candidates must gain field experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. In most states and jurisdictions, one year of supervised experience satisfies the requirement.
The difference in education requirements between Boards has to do with how many credit hours are required in each of the core areas of ethics and law, accounting, and business.
Although the Uniform CPA Exam is the same in all states and jurisdictions, the eligibility requirements for taking the exam are not. While some states allow candidates to take the exam after completing their standard 120-semester hour bachelor’s program, most require that the full 150 semester-hour requirement be fulfilled through continuing education or a graduate program prior to sitting for the exam. Some states also require a state-specific ethics exam in addition to the CPA Exam.
Experience is a key component to qualifying for CPA licensure, and one that is upheld by all Boards of Accountancy. Although one year of general supervised experience is the standard, most Boards maintain specific requirements for the number of hours spent performing audit and attestation work during this time. Each Board also has its own process in place for tracking and logging the requisite hours, which both the CPA candidate and the supervising CPA must adhere to.
Even as all state and jurisdiction Boards of Accountancy move toward a greater level of uniformity, there are still many inconsistencies. AccountingEdu.org serves as a detailed guide to those interested in learning the process and satisfying the requirements for achieving CPA licensure within their state or jurisdiction.