5 Steps to Becoming a CPA in Kentucky

Accounting professionals can look forward to a broad range of opportunities in Kentucky. That’s especially true for CPAs who invariably command more lucrative offers to fill more advanced and specialized roles.

In the Bluegrass State, that can land you a position working in manufacturing, real estate, or healthcare, three of the top-grossing industries here according to industry research company IBISWorld. Healthcare in particular has a strong footing here, with Humana and Kindred Healthcare, both Fortune 500 companies, headquartered in Louisville.

The nearly $190 billion annual state GDP is a big umbrella, though. You can find work as a CPA at many other big companies or in dedicated accounting firms such as Mountjoy Chilton Medley, with offices in Louisville, Lexington, Covington, and Frankfort. Or you can set up your own shop, as many CPAs do, specializing in everything from tax services to small business accounting.

There are 5 steps in figuring out how to become a CPA in Kentucky, and you’ll find all of them right here. Whether you go into private practice working on retirement and estate issues or head for big business and financial work, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running with the right education behind you.

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

1. Get Your Education – Meeting CPA Degree Requirements in Kentucky

a. Find out about schools in Kentucky that house accounting programs. Under the rules of the Kentucky State Board of Accountancy, would-be CPAs need 150 semester hours of college credit and at least a bachelor’s degree.

With the standard bachelor’s degree in accounting consisting of just 120 semester hours, going on to earn a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s in accounting represents the most tried and tested way to get those 30 additional credits. Many of these programs are available entirely online. You can also find specialized five-year CPA track programs that combine a bachelor’s and master’s curriculum to give you the 150 semester hours you need to meet CPA requirements in Kentucky.

b. The Kentucky State Board of Accountancy accepts all accounting degrees and additional business and accounting credits earned through colleges and universities recognized by one of the six regional accreditation agencies that operate in the U.S.:

If you attended a college or university outside of the United States, your credits must be evaluated by a member credentialing agency of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services, Inc. A list of member agencies may be found here. Contact an agency directly to request an evaluation, which will be sent to the Kentucky State Board of Accountancy for final approval.

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c. Meet Kentucky’s CPA degree and coursework requirements. Within your 150 semester hours of college credit you’ll need to take a prescribed blend of business and accounting courses:

  • 39 semester hours of business-related courses, including:
    • 27 semester hours of accounting courses
    • Other business courses may include subjects such as:
      • Finance
      • Business
      • Marketing
      • Economics
      • Management
      • Statistics
      • Computers

2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam

Once you have completed 120 of the 150 semester hours required for licensure and have at least a bachelor’s degree, you are eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam in Kentucky.

a. Apply at the Kentucky State Board of Accountancy website to take the Uniform CPA Examination.

b. Mail the complete application packet to: Kentucky State Board of Accountancy, 332 W. Broadway, #310, Louisville, KY 40202. Along with your completed application, submit:

  • Official transcript from all schools attended. Your transcripts must reflect having earned at least a bachelor’s degree with an accounting concentration.
  • Check or money order payable to Kentucky State Board of Accountancy for application and examination fees (the Initial Application Fee is $30, and the fee for each of the four sections of the exam is $30. There are also additional fees for NASBA, AICPA and Prometric that you will need to pay)
  • Signed and notarized application

c. The Board will receive your application, approve it and send an Authorization to Test to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). NASBA will then send you an invoice for their fees, which you must pay within 90 days. Once paid, NASBA will issue your Notice to Schedule (NTS) the Uniform CPA Exam by the method you selected when you applied (mail, fax or email.)

d. Schedule your test at a Prometric site in or near Kentucky. Sites include:

  • Louisville
  • Lexington
  • Florence

e. Arrive at your chosen Prometric site on exam day ready to take the test. Make sure to have your driver’s license or other official picture identification card with you.

f. The Board will mail scores to you once they have been tabulated.

If you need to arrange disability testing accommodations or want more information, call the Kentucky State Board of Accountancy at (502) 595-3037.

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

3. Gain The Necessary Experience

Now that you have passed the Uniform CPA Exam, the next step to Kentucky CPA licensure is to fulfill the state’s experience requirement.

a. Contact your school’s career center for assistance finding suitable employment. The Kentucky State Board of Accountancy requires all candidates for CPA licensure to have completed one year (2000 hours) of experience.

  • Experience may be gained in public practice accounting or auditing, industry, academia or government
  • If experience is gained through academia, you must participate in 24 semester hours of teaching college accounting courses
  • This experience must occur after receiving your bachelor’s degree
  • This experience must occur within five years of passing the Uniform CPA Exam
  • More than one employer may be used to satisfy the total number of hours required
  • All experiences must be verified by a supervising CPA who may be licensed in any state or other jurisdiction

b. Ask your verifying CPA(s) to complete a Certificate of Experience form verifying and documenting your experience. Set the completed certificate(s) aside, as it will be submitted with your licensure application. Included on the certificate:

  • Name and address of employer
  • Dates employment began and ended
  • Total number of hours worked
  • Description of duties
  • Professional titles you held in your employment
  • Signature of verifying CPA
  • If experience was attained in academia:
    • Include a list of all courses taught, dates, semester hours of each course
    • Must be signed by the verifying CPA

4. Get Your Kentucky CPA License

You are now ready to apply for a Kentucky CPA license. Make sure that you have completed each step along the pathway to licensure:

a. Checklist

  • Complete 150 semester hours of college credit, including an accounting concentration, and earn at least a bachelor’s degree
  • Pass the Uniform CPA Exam.
  • Fulfill one year of experience
  • Have your verifying CPA complete and sign the Certificate of Experience

b. Apply for your Kentucky CPA License.

  • Download the Application for Initial License as a Kentucky Certified Public Accountant
  • If you took the Uniform CPA Exam in a state other than Kentucky, complete the Authorization for Interstate Exchange of Information form and mail it to the Board of the state in which you took the exam for verification
  • Attach a recent 2” x 2” signed photograph of yourself to the application
  • Submit an official college transcript that verifies your completion of 150 semester hours and a bachelor’s degree if not already on file with the Board (i.e., if you had not completed the requirements at the time you took the Uniform CPA Exam).
  • Enclose completed, signed Certificate(s) of Experience
  • Enclose a $100 application fee payable to the Kentucky State Board of Accountancy
  • Complete and sign the application in the presence of a Notary Public
  • Mail all of the above to: Kentucky State Board of Accountancy, 332 W. Broadway, #310, Louisville, KY 40202

c. Wait for notification. You will be notified when the Board has approved your application and granted your CPA license.

Interstate Reciprocal License

Do you already hold a CPA license in another state or jurisdiction, but plan to move to Kentucky or open an accounting practice here? As long as that license is not held in the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico, you may apply for a reciprocal CPA license.

  • Fill out the Application for Initial License as a Kentucky Certified Public Accountant by Reciprocity
  • Send an Authorization for Interstate Exchange of Information form to the state Board where you passed the Uniform CPA Exam
  • Send an Authorization for Interstate Exchange of Information to the state Board that holds your CPA license (if different from B above)
  • Attach a signed recent 2” x 2” photograph of yourself to the application
  • Submit documentation of experience in one of the following ways:
    • Document one year of experience verified by a CPA on the Certificate of Experience
    • Provide certified copies of experience forms from another state Board that were filed with that Board
    • Submit one of the following that shows you have four years of accounting experience within the past ten years:
      • Proof of public accounting errors and omissions insurance
      • A letter from a CPA, client or attorney familiar with your practice
      • Copies of your firm’s license applications
      • Copies of Schedule C of your personal income tax returns
  • Attach a check for $100 payable to the Kentucky State Board of Accountancy
  • Sign the Certification and Acknowledgement page of the application and have it notarized
  • Mail all of the above to: Kentucky State Board of Accountancy, 332 W. Broadway, #310, Louisville, KY 40202

International Reciprocal License

If you hold a CPA license in a foreign jurisdiction and wish to receive a reciprocal CPA license in Kentucky, you may do so under the following conditions:

  • If your foreign jurisdiction similarly recognizes Kentucky CPA licenses as reciprocal to theirs
  • If your foreign jurisdiction regulates your practice
  • If your license was earned on the basis of education, examination and experience requirements substantially equivalent to those of Kentucky
  • If you fulfill the experience requirements in letter E above

Currently, Kentucky recognizes the following international jurisdictions’ credentialing bodies as having substantially equivalent requirements and will grant reciprocal licensure to holders of these credentials after passing the International Qualification Examination (IQEX):

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA)
  • CPA Australia
  • 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 (NZICA)
  • Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)

If you hold a license from another foreign jurisdiction see step one (1) for foreign credit evaluation.

5. Stay Current Through Continuing Professional Education in Kentucky

Once you have obtained your CPA license, keep it current and valid by fulfilling continuing professional education (CPE) requirements set forth by the Kentucky State Board of Accountancy.

a. Determine which category you fall into:

  • If you worked 3000 hours or more in a public accounting firm during the past two years, you must complete 80 CPE hours every two years
  • All other licensed CPAs must complete 60 CPE hours every two years
  • Regardless of your total CPE requirement, 2 CPE hours must be in professional

b. Enroll in subjects that count for CPE credit with the Board, such as:

  • Auditing and accounting
  • Taxation
  • Information technology
  • Management services
  • Mathematics
  • Communication arts
  • Ethics
  • Statistics
  • Business law
  • Economics
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Specialized areas of industry
  • Administrative procedures involved with attest services

Enroll in CPE program formats that count for credit, such as:

  • Local, state and national professional accounting organizations’ professional development programs
  • Credit university and college courses
  • Noncredit university and college courses
  • In house, formal educational programs
  • Formal independent study courses, including webcasts and online courses
  • Lecturing, speaking or leading a discussion (may not account for more than 60% of your total CPE hours)
  • Publishing articles and books (may not account for more than 25% of your total CPE hours)

Find suitable CPE programs in Kentucky through:

c. Maintain documentation of the CPE you took for at least five years, including:

  • Written documentation of completion of the course, signed by the instructor or sponsor, including
    • Sponsor’s name
    • Title/description of course
    • Dates attended
    • CPE hours claimed for course

Now That You’re a CPA in Kentucky

Congratulations! You have worked hard, studied, and persevered to become a licensed CPA in Kentucky! The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) would love to have you as a member. This national professional accounting organization offers its members continuing professional education and development opportunities, networking, professional advice and guidance. Also, think about joining your local Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Do you have a special interest within the accounting field? Consider pursuing it! Specializations in Kentucky within the world of accounting include management consulting, taxation, cost accounting, financial analysis, and government accounting.

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