By Susan Maphis, Accountingedu contributing writer
Updated August 2014
A Virginia Certified Public Accountant (CPA) employed within the Richmond office of one of the top international public accounting firms recently described the practice of accounting as “the language of business.”
Each year, the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA) and Virginia Business compile a list of Super CPAs.
Those that make the list are the most fluent and effective CPAs within the state. CPAs are voted on to the list by their peers after being assessed in 12 different accounting categories that include auditing, education, corporate tax, government and nonprofits, and personal financial planning.
a. Get in touch with universities in Virginia offering accounting programs to solicit information. All certified public accountants in Virginia must comply with Virginia Board of Accountancy rules, which specify a bachelor’s degree (at minimum) involving 150 semester hours of college credit.
b. If you are still attending school or have recently graduated, confirm that your program is accredited by an organization that is acceptable to the Virginia Board of Accountancy. Accreditation should be through one of these agencies:
If you attended a program that is not accredited by any of the above agencies, including colleges and universities in other countries, your credits must be reviewed by a Board-approved education evaluation firm prior to sitting for the Uniform CPA Exam. Once the Board receives their report, it will make the final decision on whether to accept your credits. Approved agencies include:
c. Enroll in the necessary courses. In Virginia, CPAs need at least 120 semester hours of college coursework and must hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible to take the Uniform CPA Exam. (For licensure, a total of 150 semester hours are required). These classes must include:
If you have completed 120 semester hours of the total requirement of 150 and have received a bachelor’s degree, you are eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination.
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. You must use the Virginia Board of Accountancy’s online application to apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam(found here). In order to use this online application, you must know your Jurisdiction ID. This may be obtained by calling the Board at (804) 367-8505.
b. Have the appropriate documentation mailed to the Virginia Board of Accountancy. This includes:
c. After the Board receives your application, necessary documents and fees, it will forward an Authorization to Test (ATT) to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), who will then issue your Notification to Schedule (NTS).
d. Upon receipt of your NTS, contact Prometric at www.prometric.com/CPA/default.htm to schedule your exam at a convenient Virginia site. In Virginia, locations include Alexandria, Bristol, Fairfax, Glen Allen, Lynchburg, Newport News and Roanoke.
e. Appear at your selected Prometric center on examination day set to take the test.
f. Your exam scores will be posted online at the Virginia Board of Accountancy website once they are mailed to you once they have been computed.
For detailed information on the Uniform CPA Exam, click here.
All CPA applicants in the commonwealth of Virginia must fulfill work experience requirements as part of the licensing process.
a. The Virginia Board of Accountancy requires all applicants to complete the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)’s Professional Ethics home study course consisting of 8 semester hours. Text and CD-ROM versions of the home study course can be purchased here.
b. Under Virginia statutes, all CPA applicants must complete one year (2000 hours) of accounting work experience. The experience, which should be paid, may be full or part-time and should be in academia, industry, government or public accounting. A supervising CPA must attest to this experience. See your college’s career center for possible work experience options.
Competencies that should be contained within your work experience consist of:
Responsibilities of the Verifying CPA
Responsibilities of the Applicant
Provide your supervising CPA with the Verification of Experience Form along with a stamped envelope to the Virginia Board of Accountancy
Passing the Uniform CPA Examination, completing the ethics course, completing 150 semester hours of college education and fulfilling Virginia’s work experience requirement renders you ready to apply for a CPA license. Make sure you have taken care of the following checklist items:
a. Review Checklist and verify your eligibility for licensure
b. Apply for your Virginia CPA License. You may do so online at the Virginia Board of Accountancy’s website.
Interstate Reciprocal License
If you presently hold a CPA license from another state that is considered to be substantially equivalent to Virginia under NASBA rules, you are eligible to receive a license to practice as a CPA in Virginia.
International Reciprocal License
If you hold a CPA license from another country, your credentials may be substantially equivalent to Virginia. The following professional bodies have substantial equivalency with Virginia:
If you are licensed by one of these bodies, you must pass NASBA’s International Uniform CPA Qualification Examination (IQEX) to gain licensure in Virginia. More information on that examination may be found here.
All other internationally licensed CPA candidates must first have their credentials evaluated by a foreign credentials evaluation service to see if they need to take the Uniform CPA Exam. A list of acceptable evaluation services in Virginia may be found here.
The Virginia Board of Accountancy states that you must satisfy professional education (CPE) requirements to maintain your CPA license.
Courses designed to satisfy CPE requirements related to tax preparation are available online through Fast Forward Academy.
a. Fulfill 120 hours of CPE every three years. 20 hours of CPE must be completed each year.
b. Attend the appropriate forum for CPE credit:
c. Search for CPE programs in Virginia through:
d. Maintain documentation of your CPE hours for at least three years in case you are audited. You must keep copies of the certificates of completion that you receive for your CPE credit. If you did not receive a certificate but received CPE credit from an in-house program given by your employer, your employer must provide records of this CPE including the course provider’s name, title and course description, date of the course and number of CPE credits you received.
Now that you're a CPA in Virginia
Kudos to you! You are now a fully licensed Virginia CPA! Consider joining the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). The AICPA offers its members continuing professional education opportunities, professional development, professional guidance, networking opportunities and discounts on office supplies and shipping services, among other benefits. Virginia’s local state professional accounting societies to consider joining include the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Accountants Society of Virginia.
You might also want to think about specializing in a sub-discipline of accounting. In Virginia, CPAs specialize in budgeting analysis, tax services, financial planning, auditing, forensic accounting, and information systems.