5 Steps to Becoming a CPA in Georgia
By Susan Maphis, Accountingedu contributing writer
Updated June 2014
- Get your Education in Georgia
- Take the Uniform CPA Exam in Georgia
- Gain the Necessary Experience in Georgia
- Get your Georgia CPA License
- Continuing Education in Georgia
According to the Georgia State Board of Accountancy, as of June 2014 there were 20,325 certified public accountants licensed to practice in the state. Additionally, there are some 1,821 public accounting firms that operate in Georgia.
The many thousands of licensed CPAs and accounting firms that practice in the state must adhere to rules and regulations set forth by the Georgia State Board of Accountancy. This includes meeting stringent educational and experiential requirements in order to receive and maintain individual and firm CPA licensure in Georgia.
1. Get Your Education
*Qualifying for a CPA license requires a bachelor’s degree at minimum and a total of 150 semester hours of college credit to include coursework in accounting, business and ethics. Since bachelor’s programs typically result in just 120 semester hours of credit, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) maintains that earning a Master of Science in Accounting is the best way to achieve the full 150 semester hours you will need for your CPA license. The MS in Accounting through Syracuse University
provides the credits you need in a flexible online program designed to build upon your undergraduate education while accommodating your schedule.
a. Get information from Georgia’s colleges and universities that house accounting programs. Under Georgia State Board of Accountancy rules, a bachelor’s degree with 150 semester hours of college credit are the minimum requirements for CPA licensure in the state.
b. Choose a college or university that is recognized by the Georgia State Board of Accountancy. The four-year school you select must be accredited by a national or regional accreditation agency listed by the U.S. Department of Education here.
- If you attend a foreign school, your academic credentials must be evaluated. Contact NASBA International Evaluation Services to request an evaluation, which will be sent directly to CPA Examination Services for final approval:
c. Visit your school’s registrar’s office to sign up for the correct classes. Within your 150 total semester hours required for licensure you must satisfy the following credit requirements:
- 30 semester hours of accounting courses above the elementary level
- 24 semester hours in general business courses
Important qualifications to be aware of:
- CPA review courses offered at accredited colleges/universities are acceptable if you are given college credit for the course
- Commercial CPA review courses are not acceptable
- Online or correspondence courses are acceptable if you are given college credit for them
- Accounting internships are acceptable but may not make up more than two courses on your transcript
- Upper level undergraduate accounting courses taken at a two year or junior college are acceptable as long as you are given college credit for them at a 4 year college/university
- CLEP courses are not accepted by the Georgia State Board of Accountancy
2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam
Once you have earned a bachelor’s degree (120 semester hours) and have completed at least 20 semester hours of credit in upper-level accounting courses, you are eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam.
Courses that include study guides and practice exams designed to help you prepare for the Uniform CPA Exam are available online through Fast Forward Academy.
a. Go to CPA Examination Services (CPAES), where you may register online or download an application form for the Uniform CPA Exam.
b. Collect the required documents for your exam application:
- Official college transcript (may be submitted by applicant)
- Any foreign evaluation forms if you attended an international college or university (may be submitted by evaluation agency or applicant)
- Application fees, payable by certified check, money order or credit card to CPA Examination Services
- ADA Accommodation Form, if requesting special testing accommodations, submitted by you to CPA Examination Services
c. Mail the documents/fees listed above to:
- CPA Examination Services-GA, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219
d. Wait to receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS) the Uniform CPA Exam sent by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) by mail, fax or email (depending upon the manner you chose when submitting your application)
e. Access the Prometric website where you may schedule your exam at a Georgia testing location. Testing centers include:
f. Show up on testing day at your selected site ready to take the exam.
g. Receive your exam scores by mail or retrieve them online here once they have been calculated. Do not try to access the online score report until at least 48 hours after taking the exam.
If you need more information, call the Georgia Coordinator of CPA Examination Services at 800-CPA-EXAM.
For detailed information on the Uniform CPA Exam, click here.
3. Gain The Necessary Experience
Before the Georgia State Board of Accountancy will license you as a CPA, you must fulfill their experience requirement.
a. Ask your school’s career center to help you find suitable employment. You need one year (2000 hours) of accounting experience in public accounting, government, business, industry or college teaching, or a combination of work experience in college teaching, government, industry, business or public accounting. This experience must be earned no longer than one year prior to CPA licensure application. There may be no breaks in service longer than one year.
- Clerical functions do not count towards your experience hour requirement. These include but are not limited to:
- Account analysis of information that is already recorded in accounting books
- Mathematical calculations
- Recording information in general ledger
- Your employment experience must be verified by a licensed CPA
- Self-employment does not count towards the experience requirement
- Your experience must not occur while you are enrolled as a full-time student
b. Make sure your experience meets the requirements of Board rules for qualification:
- If working as a public accountant, your experience must:
- Be supervised by a licensed CPA in Georgia or an equivalent state
- Involve employment as a staff accountant practicing the following skills:
- Financial advisory
- Management advisory
- If working in business or industry, your experience must:
- Involve the use of financial accounting and auditing skills
- Be supervised by a CPA or RPA (Registered Public Accountant) licensed in Georgia or a substantially equivalent state
- Duties should involve the following skills:
- Using internal control systems
- Management advisory
- Financial advisory
- Regulatory laws
- If working in government, you must:
- Be employed by a federal, state or local government agency that performs auditing and accounting functions and is appropriated public funds
- If employed by the Internal Revenue Service – must be above the GS 11 level
- If working in academia, you must:
- Teach accounting at a four-year accredited college or university
- Courses taught must include at least two accounting courses above the elementary level
- Teach at least 24 semester hours in a period of at least 12 months but no longer than 36 months
- Teach courses in the accounting discipline only. Courses not acceptable include but are not limited to: finance, business law, computer applications, economics, personnel management, statistics
c. In order to document this experience, you have two choices:
- Download the Certificate of Experience, found within the Application for CPA certificate packet. Complete the first page of the document then forward to your supervisor(s) for completion. Your supervisor must return the document to you in a sealed envelope. This envelope will be submitted with your CPA Certificate application.
- Fill out online verification of your experience if submitting your licensure application online. Online verification must include your supervisor’s name, license number, issue date, and expiration date.
d. If your supervisor holds a CPA certificate or license in a state other than Georgia, complete the Employer’s Licensure Verification form, found with the NASBA Application Package for Georgia CPA certificate. Send this form to the state Board that holds your supervisor’s license or certificate. They will return it to you in a sealed envelope, which must be submitted with your CPA Certificate application. These completed documents will later be submitted with your CPA Certificate application.
4. Get Your Georgia CPA License
Are you ready to apply for a Georgia CPA Certificate? If you have satisfied the following requirements, you may begin this process:
- Achieve completion of 150 semester hours of college credit and a bachelor’s degree, including 30 semester hours of accounting and 24 semester hours of business courses
- Completed Transcript Request form (found within application packet). Forward it to your college or university. They will return your official transcript to you in a sealed envelope to be submitted with your application.
- Pass the Uniform CPA Exam.
- Fulfill the Board’s experience requirement of one year (2000 hours) of supervised accounting work experience
b. Apply for your Georgia CPA Certificate. Use the NASBA Application Package for Georgia CPA certificat , found on the NASBA website, as NASBA Licensing Services is the certificate processing agency for the Georgia State Board of Accountancy. Alternatively, you may apply for licensure with NASBA’s online application. A complete application packet will include:
- Completed application
- Certificate of Experience (found within application packet), which should have been returned to you by your employer in a sealed envelope
- Employer Verification Form (found within application packet), which should have already been sent to your employer’s state Board (if he or she holds a CPA license in a state other than Georgia) and returned to you in a sealed
- Signed Consent Form (found within application packet), authorizing the Board to complete a background check
- Payment of $170 for an initial certificate, paid by certified check, money order or credit card, payable to NASBA Licensing Services.
c. Mail the completed application and all the above- mentioned supporting documents to: NASBA Licensing Services – GA, P.O. Box 198589, Nashville, TN 37219
d. Wait to receive notification by email from NASBA when your application has been approved.
Interstate Reciprocal License
Do you already hold a CPA license or certificate in another state? You may qualify for a reciprocal CPA certificate in Georgia if:
- The state in which you hold your CPA license/certificate recognizes Georgia’s CPA Certificates as reciprocal to their own license or certificate
- Your license is not from Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands
- You meet Georgia’s education, examination and experience requirements
- You become a Georgia resident, establish an office in Georgia, or if your principal place of business is in the office of a firm in Georgia
If you meet the above qualifications, follow these steps to receive a Georgia CPA Certificate:
a. Use NASBA’s online licensure application to apply for a reciprocal license in Georgia.
b. Make sure you have the following documents completed, either via hard copy or to be submitted online:
- Certificate of Experience – complete the top portion then forward it to your supervisor(s) to complete and return to you in a sealed envelope. This must remain in a sealed envelope and be submitted with your application.
- Employer Verification Form - you must obtain official verification of a valid license from the jurisdiction in which you supervising CPA is licensed. Forward the Employer Verification Form to the state board where the license is held. That Board will return the completed form to you in a sealed envelope, which you must submit with your application
- Transcript Request Form- complete this form and send it to the college or university that holds your transcript. Your official transcript will be returned to you in a sealed envelope, which must be submitted with your application.
- Consent Form – sign this form and include it with your application. This authorized the Georgia State Board of Accountancy to conduct a background check.
- Authorization for Interstate Exchange – complete this form to have your exam scores and/or licensure information transmitted from the state Board in which you took your Uniform CPA Exam/hold a CPA license. Send it to the appropriate state Board, and the completed form will be returned to you in a sealed envelope to submit with your application
- Enclose your payment of $320 by certified check, money order or credit card, payable to NASBA Licensing Services (or pay online)
c. Mail the completed application, fee and above documents to: NASBA Licensing Services – GA, P.O. Box 198589, Nashville, TN 37219
d. Receive notification by email from NASBA when your application has been approved.
International Reciprocal License
If you hold a CPA license from another country, you may be eligible for a CPA reciprocal license in Georgia. The following foreign jurisdictions are recognized as having requirements that are substantially equivalent to those of the Georgia State Board of Accountancy:
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA)
- CPA Australia (CPAA)
- Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)
- Instituto Mexicano De Contadores Publicos (IMCP)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
- Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants
- New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)
If you hold a license from one of the above jurisdictions:
- Request that your jurisdiction’s credentialing agency send a Letter of Good Standing to NASBA
- Apply here to take the IQEX (International Qualification Examination). Mail your application, fees and any supporting documentation to: NASBA, Attn: IQEX, P.O. Box 440555, Nashville, TN 37244
- NASBA will send you a Notice to Schedule (NTS) the IQEX by mail or email, at which time you may schedule your test through Prometric.
- Test results will be mailed to you as they are available.
If you hold a CPA license from a foreign jurisdiction not listed above, contact the Georgia State Board of Accountancy at (478) 207-2440. You may still be eligible to take the IQEX, or be directed to begin the process of applying to take the Uniform CPA Exam depending on the outcome of your foreign credential evaluation.
5. Stay Current Through Continuing Professional Education in Georgia
The Georgia State Board of Accountancy requires you to complete continuing professional education to maintain your CPA certificate.
Courses designed to satisfy CPE requirements related to tax preparation are available online through Fast Forward Academy.
a. Complete 80 hours of CPE every two years
- 16 hours of CPE must be in auditing and accounting
- If you have been licensed for less than one year, no CPE is required
- If you have been licensed for one year but less than two years, 40 CPE hours are required, with 20% in auditing and accounting
- At least 20 CPE hours must be earned each year
- 15 CPE hours may be carried over to the next two-year period
- CPAs who are age 70 and above have no CPE requirements
b. Enroll in subjects that qualify for CPE credit, such as:
- Computer sciences
- Management services
- Oral/written communications
- Business law
- Specialized industries
- Functional fields of business
- Administration of an accounting practice
c. Enroll in programs that qualify for CPE credit, such as:
- Professional development programs of state and national accounting organizations/chapters
- Technical sessions of meetings of state and national accounting organizations/chapters
- College/university credit courses (one semester hour of credit equals 15 CPE hours)
- College/university non-credit courses (one semester hour of credit equals one CPE hour)
- Formal and organized in-firm/multi-firm programs
- Programs of other recognized organizations
- Breakfast, lunch, dinner meetings of professional organizations designed as educational programs
- Correspondence/individual study programs that provide proof of completion
- Published articles/books that contribute to the professional competency of a CPA (must not account for more than 25% of your total CPE hours)
The Georgia State Board of Accountancy does not pre-approve any CPE providers or courses. Find acceptable CPE programs in Georgia through:
Maintain records of your CPE for at least five years. These must include:
- Sponsoring organization/firm/institution of program
- Location of program
- Title/description of content
- Outline of program
- Dates attended
- Number of CPE hours claimed
- Proof of program completion
Now that you're a CPA in Georgia
Congratulations! You have earned a CPA Certificate in Georgia! Now is the time to consider joining the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants. These professional organizations offer their members development and networking opportunities and continuing professional education programs.
Decide if you would like to specialize in your accounting career. CPAs in Georgia have many opportunities to specialize in areas including tax advisory services, personal financial planning and international accounting.