A State By State Accounting Guide

5 Steps to Becoming a CPA in Montana

  1. Get your Education in Montana
  2. Take the Uniform CPA Exam in Montana
  3. Gain the Necessary Experience in Montana
  4. Get your Montana CPA License
  5. Continuing Education in Montana

1. Get Your Education

a. Gather information from Montana colleges and universities with accounting programs. The Montana Board of Public Accountants specifies that CPAs need 150 semester hours of college credit and a bachelor’s degree with an accounting concentration.

b. Whether you are still attending college or have recently graduated, determine that the Montana Board of Public Accountants will accept your college credits. To be acceptable to the Board, your college or university must be accredited by one of the following agencies:

If you graduated from an institution outside of the United States, Foreign Academic Credentials Service (FACS) must evaluate your academic credentials. Request the evaluation form at their website. The evaluation must be submitted directly from FACS to CPA Examination Services who will ultimately determine your eligibility to take the Uniform CPA Exam.

c. Enroll in the proper classes. The following courses must be included within your 150 semester hours of college credit:

  • 24 semester hours of upper level undergraduate or graduate level accounting courses, including at least one course in each of the following subjects:
    • Taxation
    • Auditing
    • Financial accounting
    • Management accounting
  • 24 semester hours in business-related courses such as:
    • Business law
    • Information systems
    • Finance
    • Marketing
    • Economics
    • Organizational behavior
    • Ethics
    • Communication skills
    • Quantitative applications in business
  • Correspondence, online and CLEP courses from accredited colleges are acceptable if you receive credit for them at an accredited college
  • Community college courses from accredited community colleges are acceptable
  • Commercial CPA review courses are not acceptable
  • Professional training, such as coursework completed as part of a Chartered Accountant program, is not acceptable towards fulfilling Montana’s educational requirements

2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam

Once you have fulfilled Montana’s educational requirements, you are eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination.

a. Visit CPA Examination Services (CPAES) to register online or download application forms.

b. Send in all required documentation along with your completed Uniform CPA Exam application:

  • Request that your college send an official transcript directly to CPAES
  • Submit the ADA Modification Form to request disability accommodations as needed
  • Include signed and notarized Attestation and Affidavit Form (included within application packet)
  • Attach 2” x 2” photograph of your head and shoulders
  • Remit fees by check or money order payable to CPA Examination Services, or credit card form if applying by mail; or by credit card only if applying online
  • Send all documentation/fees to: CPA Examination Services – Montana Coordinator, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219-8469.

c. Wait to receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS) the Uniform CPA Exam from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) via mail, fax or email (depending upon the method you selected when submitting your application).

d. Go to Prometric’s website to schedule your examination at one of Montana’s testing centers. They may be found in Helena and Billings.

e. Arrive at your selected Prometric testing site on examination day prepared to test.

f. Wait to receive your exam scores by mail once they have been calculated.

For detailed information on the Uniform CPA Exam, click here.


3. Gain The Necessary Experience

Montana is a two-tier state, which means that meeting the education requirement and passing the Uniform CPA Exam is enough to earn you a CPA Certificate, inactive status. However, in order to obtain a Permit to Practice and be an active CPA in the state, you must fulfill the Montana Board of Public Accountants’ work experience requirement.

a. . Pass the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)’s Home Study Course on Professional Ethics. This must be completed before going any further in the licensure process.

b. Meet the Montana Board of Public Accountants’ requirements for accounting experience. A CPA working towards a Permit to Practice must fulfill at least one year (2000 hours) of accounting experience.

  • Find such experience within public accounting, governmental accounting, academia, or accounting in the private sector.
  • Make sure your experience is either full- or part-time, as long as it satisfies the hourly requirement.
  • Have your experience verified by a supervising CPA with an active status Permit to Practice in Montana.
  • Be sure your experience takes place within three years of filing an application for a Permit to Practice.
  • Be sure your experience includes accounting and auditing functions that are required in the practice of public accounting

c. Ask your supervising CPA to fill out and sign an Evidence of Satisfaction of Experience Requirements form. You will later submit this to the Board with your application for a certificate and permit to practice.


4. Get Your Montana CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice

Since Montana is a two-tier state, both a certificate and permit to practice are necessary to be an actively licensed CPA here.

A certificate can be applied for independent of a permit to practice immediately after passing the Uniform CPA Exam, and before the experience requirement has been met. A certificate allows use of the CPA credential, but does not grant practice privileges.

You can apply for a permit to practice and be granted practice privileges only after meeting the experience requirement. It is common for CPAs to apply for both their certificate and permit to practice at the same time after fulfilling the experience requirements.

a. Complete Checklists

Checklist for Certification:

  • Completed 150 semester hours of college education and earned a bachelor’s degree
  • Passed the Uniform CPA Exam.
  • Passed the AICPA Ethics Examination

Checklist for Permit to Practice:

  • Completed 150 semester hours of college education and earned a bachelor’s degree
  • Passed the Uniform CPA Exam.
  • Passed the AICPA Ethics Examination
  • Fulfill the Board’s experience requirement of one year (2000 hours) of accounting experience
  • Verify this experience through documentation by your supervising CPA
b. Apply for your Montana CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice
  • Use the Application for Original Certification/Permit to Practice
  • Submit along with your application:
    • 3 Verification of Moral Character References (form included within application packet)
    • Ask your college or university to submit an official transcript directly to the Board
    • Financial Statement Disclosure Form (found within application packet) declaring your intended association with financial statements or Montana clients
    • Evidence of Satisfaction of Experience Requirement (form included within application packet)
    • Fee of $150 payable to Montana Board of Public Accountants
    • Mail all of the above to: Montana Board of Public Accountants, 301 South Park – 4th Floor, P.O. Box 200513, Helena, MT 59620-0513

Interstate Reciprocal License

Do you already possess a CPA certificate or license from another state, but wish to practice in Montana? Under the state’s mobility rules, you may complete a Transfer of Licensure Application to receive this privilege.

  • This applies if you hold a CPA certificate or license in any U.S. state or territory except the Virgin Islands
  • Complete the Transfer of Licensure Application
  • Provide three Verification of Moral Character references (form located within application packet)
  • Provide proof of passing the AICPA Ethics Examination
  • Have your college or university send an official transcript directly to the Board
  • Complete the Financial Statement Disclosure Form (found within application packet) regarding your intended association with financial statements for Montana clients
  • Submit a fee of $300 for both the CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice (both are necessary to actively practice as a CPA in Montana)
  • Complete the Authorization of Interstate Exchange of Examination and Licensure Information form (located within the application packet) and send it to the Board of the state in which you passed the Uniform CPA Exam and/or where you hold your license
  • Have your employer(s) complete the Evidence of Satisfaction of Experience Requirements form (located within application packet)
  • Send all of the above information to: Montana Board of Public Accountants, 301 South Park – 4th Floor, P.O. Box 200513, Helena, MT 59620-0513

International Reciprocal License

If you hold a CPA license from any of the following international jurisdictions, you may qualify for a CPA certificate and Permit to Practice in Montana:

  • 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)
  • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
  • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)
  • Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)

Because Montana is a two-tier licensing state, you must first pass the International Qualification Exam (IQEX) and the AICPA Ethics Exam to obtain a certificate, then apply for a Permit to Practice after experience requirements have been met. After completing the requirements above:

  • Complete the International Reciprocity Application
  • Provide three Moral Character References (forms included within application)
  • Obtain verification of passing the AICPA Ethics Exam
  • Complete the Financial Statement Disclosure Form (found within application packet) regarding your intended association with financial statements for Montana clients
  • Provide documentation of fulfilling Montana’s continuing professional education (CPE) requirement of 120 hours within the past three years, with at least 2 hours in an ethics course
  • Have your employer(s) fill out the Evidence of Satisfaction of Experience Requirements form (located within application packet)
  • Complete the Authorization for Exchange of Information for International Reciprocity form (located within application packet). Submit this form both to NASBA and to a foreign credential evaluation services such as Foreign Academic Credentials Service, Inc. (www.facsusa.com). NASBA will verify your IQEX credits, while the professional credentialing institute will verify your licensure/certification status in the international jurisdiction
  • Along with these items, submit a $300 fee payable to the Montana Board of Public Accountants, to 301 South Park – 4th Floor, P.O. Box 200513, Helena, MT 59620-0513.

5. Stay Current Through Cont


inuing Professional Education in Montana

Once you have obtained your CPA certificate and Permit to Practice in Montana, you must keep these current through fulfilling continuing professional education (CPE) requirements.

a. Complete 120 hours of CPE every three years

  • At least 2 CPE hours must be in an ethics course
  • As the reporting period ends on June 30, you may carry over any excess CPE hours earned in May and June of that period to the next three-year reporting period
  • If you have not completed your 120 hours by June 30, you may carry back hours from the following months of July and August only so as to meet this requirement

b. Enroll in approved subjects such as:

  • Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Management
  • Communication arts
  • Computer science
  • Mathematics and applications
  • Business law
  • Economics
  • Functional fields of business (marketing, production, finance, business management, personnel relations, organization etc)
  • Specialized areas of industry (film, real estate, farming etc)
  • Consulting
  • Ethics
  • Personal development
  • Any other areas that contribute to a CPA’s professional competence

c. Enroll in approved educational formats like:

  • Professional development/educational programs of state, local and national accounting organizations
  • Technical sessions of meetings of state, local and national accounting organizations
  • University/college credit courses
  • University/college non-credit courses
  • Formal in-firm educational programs
  • Education programs of other organizations
  • Committee programs of professional organizations that are structured as educational programs
  • Dinner, lunch and breakfast meetings structured as educational programs
  • Firm meetings structured as educational programs
  • Interactive self-study programs (must be recognized by NASBA’ s CPE Quality Assurance Service or NASBA’s national registry of CPE sponsors)
  • Lecturing, leading discussions, instructing, speaking – may only account for 60 CPE hours every three years
  • Report reviewing – may only account for 16 CPE hours per year
  • Publishing articles and books – may not account for more than 25% of one’s total CPE hours every three years

d. Maintain documentation of your CPE for at least five years, including

  • Course outline
  • Course date
  • Course location
  • Course instructor
  • Number of CPE hours claimed

e. Report your CPE hours to the Montana Board of Public Accountants every three years:

Now that you're a CPA in Montana

Congratulations! You are now an active, certified CPA in Montana with a Permit to Practice public accounting! Now is the time to think about joining some important professional accounting organizations like the Montana Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). These state and national professional organizations provide their members continuing education, networking opportunities, as well as professional advice and guidance.

Also consider specializing in one of the many areas within the field of accounting. As a CPA you can get involved in everything from forensic accounting work to internal auditing, management accounting, or even taxation and governmental accounting.