Educational Resources and Exams for Accountants and CPAs

What is Accounting? – Accounting is the profession and the process of recording, comparing, analyzing, summarizing and reporting financial transactions of any kind for the purpose of both internal documentation and analysis as well as for regulatory and tax compliance. Every organization uses accounting professionals, from basic bookkeepers up to Chief Financial Officers, to build an accurate financial picture of operations, from inventory, to earnings, to valuations, to tax filings.

The need to control operational costs and manage growth, while being fiscally accountable to shareholders, regulators and the IRS are just the standard parts of doing business. And so companies of all sizes rely on auditors and accounts specializing in public, management, and government accounting in order to be successful in these domains and to ensure they are playing by the rules.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2029 the number of accountants and auditors will increase by 4% and represent more than 1.4 million members of the U.S. workforce. Job growth combined with normal attrition and other changes in the employment market will open up nearly 62,000 positions across all accounting specialties in the ten-year period leading up to 2029.

Job outlook data for accountants and auditors published by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed January 2021.

In any economic climate, thorough analysis, reporting, review and record maintenance offer the assurance of sound financial practices, and that’s as true in government and industry as it is with small-to-medium sized businesses and individuals.

Here aspiring CPAs will find the steps to take in the licensing process for all 55 jurisdictions, information on certification standards in the major areas and vital subspecialties of accounting, and up-to-date resources that address the evolving legal framework in which accountants operate.

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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 borders. 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.