By Susan Maphis, Accountingedu contributing writer
Updated July 2014
In 2013, the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy made a change to the experience requirements for CPA licensure. Previously, 25 percent of the one-year experience requirement had to be spent providing attest services. CPA licensing in Pennsylvania still requires no less than 1600 hours of experience (equivalent to one year) prior to becoming licensed to practice in the state.
a. Request information from universities in Pennsylvania offering programs in accounting. The Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with 150 hours of credit. At least 24 of those semester hours must be in accounting.
b. If you’ve already graduated or are currently enrolled, check to make sure that your program is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy. In Pennsylvania, programs must be accredited by a national accreditation organization that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. A list of these approved national accreditation agencies and approved educational institutions can be found at this database.
Programs that are not accredited by one of these agencies must be assessed by the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy to ensure they satisfy the state’s requirements so as to be eligible to take the Uniform CPA Examination. Contact the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy at (717) 783-1404 to arrange a review of your credits. (Transcripts from foreign schools must be evaluated by one of the following services:
c. Enroll in the appropriate classes. You must meet the following educational requirements set by Pennsylvania’s State Board of Accountancy in order to become a licensed CPA:
After you have completed at least 120 semester hours of education, including the 24 hour accounting concentration, and obtained a bachelor’s degree, you are eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. (You must still complete the remainder of your education to total at least 150 semester hours prior to applying for Pennsylvania CPA licensure).
a. Apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam directly through the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s (NASBA) CPA Examination Services (CPAES). You may submit your application directly online or a hard copy application may be downloaded via form located here.
b. Send CPAES the proper documents along with your exam application:
c. Within four weeks of submitting your application, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) will issue your Notice to Schedule (NTS) in the manner in which you chose when you applied (mail, fax or email). The NTS remains valid for six months or one testing event (whichever comes first).
d. You may schedule your examination at a Pennsylvania testing site via Prometric’s website: www.prometric.com/CPA/default.htm. Pennsylvania testing centers include:
e. Arrive on time at your chosen exam site on examination day ready to take the test.
f. When scores have been tabulated, your Uniform CPA Exam score notice will be mailed to you.
If you need to arrange special disability testing accommodations, submit the ADA Accommodation Form with your application. If you require more information, contact the Pennsylvania Coordinator of CPA Examination Services at 800-CPA-EXAM. For detailed information on the Uniform CPA Exam, click here.
After you’ve passed the Uniform CPA Exam, you still must fulfill Pennsylvania’s practical work experience requirements to become a certified, licensed CPA in the state.
a. Complete the correct experiential requirements based on the degree you hold. The Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy requires you to complete one year (1600 hours) of experience, which may occur in private industry or federal, state or local government. This work experience must be completed within 5 years of the date you apply for a Pennsylvania CPA Certificate. Your experience must be verified by a licensed CPA.
b. Claim any type of employment except the following:
Competencies that should be incorporated into your practical experience include:
Responsibilities of the Verifying CPA
Responsibilities of the Applicant
Once you have passed the Uniform CPA Exam and satisfied Pennsylvania’s work experience requirement, you are ready to become certified and licensed to practice in the state. Use this checklist to determine if you have completed the necessary steps so far:
Interstate Reciprocal License
If you possess a CPA license from another state and wish to become a CPA in Pennsylvania, you must meet the state’s requirements. These include:
International Reciprocal License
If you are an accountant licensed in one of the foreign jurisdictions listed below, you may apply for foreign reciprocity in Pennsylvania.
You must pass the International Qualification Examination (IQEX).
If you hold credentials from a country other than New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Hong Kong or Mexico, your academic credentials must be assessed by one of the approved credential evaluation agencies listed in Step 1. This evaluation will include:
Once your academic credentials have been evaluated, request that the evaluation company send the records to CPA Examination Services, Pennsylvania Coordinator, PO Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219-8469. You will then be required to follow the standard protocol by taking the Uniform CPA exam.
The Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy has an established requirement for continuing professional education (CPE) hours that must be satisfied every two years.
a. Fulfill 80 hours of CPE every two years, with a minimum of 20 credit hours being taken in one year. Included within these hours must be:
b. To qualify, programs must meet the following requirements:
c. You must maintain records of the CPE you have taken for at least five years after completion of the course. This documentation must include: a certificate of completion, course material and attendance verification if no certificate was issued, a certified transcript for college credit courses, a statement of hours completed in non-credit college courses signed by the instructor, publication information for any publications used for CPE credit, documentation of leadership or instruction of any discussion courses claimed for CPE credit.
Now that you're a CPA in Pennsylvania
Great job! You have achieved licensure as a Certified Public Accountant by the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy! Think about joining the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). Membership in this national professional organization is on an annual basis, and includes benefits such as access to professional development opportunities, conferences, publications, special banking relationships, and discounted shipping and computer supplies. Professional organizations within the state that you might also consider joining are the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs and the Pennsylvania Society of Public Accountants.
You may also consider focusing on a specialization within the field of accounting! Within Pennsylvania, specializations can be found in information technology, tax, personal financial planning, forensics, and business valuation services.