Louisiana has a tremendously varied economy – from a strong tourist sector that draws people from around the world, to offshore oil and gas drilling and refineries that contribute to a massive petrochemical industry and all the subsidiary supports it requires. And as the place where the mighty Mississippi finally connects to the oceans of the world, trade and transport are, and always have been, big business in the Pelican State.
That gives CPAs here a broad range of different industries and specialties to work in. You can always step into private practice or sign on with a well-established firm too.
Major consultancies here include accounting shops like Baton Rouge’s Postelthwaite & Netterville, and Allday Consulting, with offices in Metairie, Slidell, Lafayette, and Covington. The Big Four firms have a presence here too, of course, in New Orleans and smaller cities, so a job at KPMG, Deloitte, or Ernst and Young could be on the table as well.
According to research firm IBISWorld, the state GDP surpassed $240 billion in 2019 and is only forecast to go higher. So just about any of those firms are solid bets for your career as a CPA in Louisiana.
If you’re ready to meet the challenge and learn how to become a CPA in Louisiana, then the 5 steps below will show you exactly how to get there.
- Get Your Education in Louisiana
- Take the Uniform CPA Exam in Louisiana
- Gain the Necessary Experience in Louisiana
- Get Your Louisiana CPA License
- Continuing Education in Louisiana
1. Get Your Education – Meeting CPA Degree Requirements in Louisiana
a. Get information about accounting programs through Louisiana schools. The State Board of CPAs of Louisiana requires its CPAs have a bachelor’s degree and a total of 150 semester hours of college credit.
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 you need to become a CPA in Louisiana. 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 Louisiana.
b. The Louisiana State Board of CPAs recognizes all accounting bachelor’s and master’s degrees and additional business and accounting courses earned through any institution in the United States accredited by one of the six regional accreditation agencies:
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools–Commission on Colleges
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges–Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
- Higher Learning Commission
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges–Commission for Senior Colleges
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
If you attended a school outside of the 55 United States jurisdictions, you must have your credits evaluated by Foreign Academic Credentials Service, Inc. Contact the organization directly to request an evaluation, which will be submitted directly to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s (NASBA) CPA Examination Services.
c. Meet Louisiana’s CPA degree and specific curriculum requirements. The 150 semester hours of college credit you earn through your bachelor’s degree, additional courses earned at the undergraduate level and/or a post-bachelor’s certificate or master’s program must include a specific blend of accounting and business courses:
- 24 semester hours of undergraduate accounting courses (or 21 semester hours of graduate-level accounting courses) including:
- Intermediate accounting (6 semester hours undergraduate or 3 semester hours at the graduate level)
- Cost accounting (3 semester hours undergraduate or graduate)
- Income tax accounting (3 semester hours undergraduate or graduate)
- Auditing (3 semester hours undergraduate or graduate)
- Accounting elective (9 semester hours undergraduate or graduate) including:
- 3 semester hours of one of the following: advanced financial accounting, nonprofit accounting or auditing, or accounting theory
- 6 semester hours in accounting elective courses above the elementary level
- 24 semester hours of business courses other than accounting, including:
- 3 semester hours in commercial law in accounting (must cover the Uniform Commercial Code – courses that focus on consumer protection and/or the regulatory environment do not count for credit towards this requirement or toward the accounting elective requirement)
- Internships in business or accounting are not accepted towards the business or accounting requirements
- No more than 6 semester hours in an internship in business or accounting will be counted toward the 150 semester hour requirement
- Community college courses are accepted
- Online and correspondence courses are accepted if you receive credit for them at a four-year accredited college or university
- CPA Review, CLEP and commercial review courses are not accepted
2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam
If you have completed all educational requirements, and have lived in Louisiana for at least 120 days prior to the date of examination, you may apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam.
a. Go to CPA Examination Services (CPAES) to register online or download application forms.
b. Send in the necessary documentation with your completed Uniform CPA Exam application, including:
- Official college transcript that shows you earned 150 semester hours and a bachelor’s degree
- Affidavit for Course Substitution if you need to petition the Board to substitute courses for their requirements because the school you attended was outside of Louisiana and did not offer courses to suit their requirements
- Course descriptions, if you are submitting an Affidavit for Course Substitution
- Payment of application and examination fee via check, money order or credit card form to CPA Examination Services
- ADA Accommodation Request Form, if applicable (that is, if you need to request special disability testing accommodations)
- Mail all of the items listed above to: CPA Examination Services – Louisiana Coordinator, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219-8469
c. Wait to receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) the Uniform CPA Exam from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) by mail, fax or email (depending upon the method of notification you chose when you applied)
d. Go to Prometric’s website to schedule your examination at a Louisiana testing site. Options include:
- Bossier City
- Lake Charles
- Baton Rouge
e. Show up at your chosen Prometric testing site on examination day primed to test.
f. Wait 48 hours after taking the exam to access your scores online. They will also be sent to you via U.S. Mail.
You can contact the Louisiana Coordinator of CPA Examination Services at 800-CPA-EXAM with additional questions.
For detailed information on the Uniform CPA Exam, click here.
3. Gain The Necessary Experience
Under State Board of CPAs of Louisiana rules and in accordance with the Uniform Accountancy Act, you must complete one year (2,000 hours) of accounting experience before a CPA license will be granted in the state of Louisiana.
a. Contact your school’s career center or accounting department to find suitable work experience. The State Board of CPAs of Louisiana specifies that CPA candidates must have at least one year of full-time or 2,000 hours of part-time qualifying accounting experience, supervised by a licensed CPA.
- Experience may be derived from employment in government, private industry, public practice, academia or nonprofit
- Experience must take place within four years preceding application for license
- Experience may take place in the state of Louisiana or outside of the state
b. Make sure your experience involves the use of at least one of the following skills:
- Management advisory
- Financial advisory
c. Ask your supervising CPA(s) to verify information about your experience. This is done through a letter from your supervisor that you will submit with your license application. This letter should provide information detailing:
- Dates of employment
- Job title(s)
- Description of employment
- If your experience is in academia, the college courses you taught along with their beginning and end dates must be listed
- If your hours were part-time, time sheets, productivity reports or payroll records must also be submitted
- Letter must be written on company letterhead and signed by your supervising CPA
4. Get Your Louisiana CPA Certificate
Have you completed the State Board of CPAs of Louisiana’s education requirement, passed the Uniform CPA Exam, and fulfilled one year of experience? If so, you may now apply for a CPA Certificate.
a. Download the Application for a Certificate as a Certified Public Accountant. In Louisiana, the term certificate and license are used interchangeably, so this document is, in fact, your application for licensure.
- Make sure to submit the following documents along with your completed application form:
- Confirmation letter(s) from supervising CPAs of your employment experience
- Official school transcripts
- Check or money order for $100 application fee payable to the State Board of CPAs of Louisiana
b. Mail all of the above to: State Board of CPAs of Louisiana, 601 Poydras Street, Suite 1770, New Orleans, LA 70130. The Board must receive your completed application and all supporting documents 30 days prior to its regular meeting in order for it to be considered for the forthcoming licensing period. (regular meetings are held on the last working days of the months of January, April, July and October). The Board will notify you after your application is approved and certificate issued.
Interstate Reciprocal License
If you hold a CPA license or certificate from another state whose accountancy requirements are deemed to be substantially equivalent to those of Louisiana, you may apply for a reciprocal CPA certificate in Louisiana. Currently, only the Virgin Islands is not substantially equivalent, under NASBA rules.
- Download the Application for a Reciprocal Certificate as a Certified Public Accountant
- Complete the Authorization for Interstate Exchange of Examination and Licensure Information and mail it to the Board that holds your current CPA license. Include any fees that Board requires.
- Submit documented qualifying experience of at least one year within the past four years that fits the Board’s requirements. Letters from supervising CPAs must be attached.
- If you worked as a sole practitioner, attach three letters from clients confirming that you have one year of public practice accounting experience in the past four years
- Submit your official college transcripts showing the 150 total semester hours of college credit
- Include three character references from people who have known you for at least one year and are not related to you
- Submit $100 application fee payable to the State Board of CPAs of Louisiana
- Mail all of the above to: State Board of CPAs of Louisiana, 601 Poydras Street, Suite 1770, New Orleans, LA 70130.
- The Board will notify you after your application is approved and certificate issued.
International Reciprocal License
If you hold a CPA license from one of the following jurisdictions, your qualifications have been deemed by NASBA and the State Board of CPAs of Louisiana as being substantially equivalent to Louisiana:
- 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 your license is from one of the above jurisdictions:
- Ask your jurisdiction’s credentialing agency to send a Letter of Good Standing to NASBA
- Apply here to take the IQEX. Mail your application, fees and any supporting documentation to: NASBA, Attn: IQEX Coordinator, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37244-8469
- NASBA will send you a Notice to Schedule (NTS) the IQEX by mail or email, at which time you may schedule your test through Prometric.
- Test results will be mailed to you as they are available.
You must still meet Louisiana’s education and experience requirements, which means that if you attended any foreign college or university, you may need to have your academic credentials evaluated by Foreign Academic Credentials Service, Inc. Contact the Board at (504) 566-1244 for more information on applying for international reciprocity.
5. Stay Current Through Continuing Professional Education in Louisiana
To maintain your CPA certificate in Louisiana, you must fulfill continuing professional education (CPE) requirements.
a. Attain 120 hours of CPE every three years
- CPE is pro-rated, so in a given three-year period, your initial CPE requirements may be less. If you are licensed before the period begins, your requirements are 120 hours for three years. If you are licensed in the first year, the requirement is 80 hours for the period. If you are licensed in the second year, the requirements are 40 hours for the period. If you are licensed in the final year of the three-year period, you are not required to report any CPE hours for that period.
- If you work in attest engagements, 20% of your total CPE hours must be in attest subjects
- 2 CPE hours must be in professional ethics, including a review of the State Board’s Rules of Professional Conduct
- Personal development cannot make up more than 25% of your total CPE hours
- You must submit a signed statement of your CPE hours every three years at the time of certificate renewal
- A written outline of the program must be furnished to qualify for CPE credit
- Each program must be at least 50 minutes in length to qualify for one hour of CPE credit
b. Enroll in approved educational formats:
- Credit granting college or university courses (one semester hour = 15 CPE hours)
- Noncredit college or university courses (one semester hour = 1 CPE hour)
- Interactive self-study programs
- Serving as a speaker, teacher or lecturer (may not account for more than 50% of your total CPE hours)
- Writing published articles, books, CPE programs (may not account for more than 25% of your total CPE hours)
- Formal correspondence programs
- Formal group programs
- Technical sessions of meetings of national and state professional organizations/chapters
- Formal, organized in-house educational programs
- Completing exams for Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) – credit is given at 5 times the length of each exam taken and may not account for more than 50% of your total CPE credit)
You can find acceptable CPE programs in Louisiana through:
- American Institute of CPAs
- NASBA’s National Registry of CPE Sponsors
- Society of Louisiana CPAs
- Louisiana colleges and universities
c. Maintain records of your CPE hours for at least five years, including:
- Certificate of attendance or completion (if applicable)
- Sponsor of course
- Course location
- Title/description of content
- Dates of course
- Number of CPE hours claimed
- Transcript (if a university or college course was taken)
- Evidence of publication (for books, articles etc)
Now that you’re a CPA in Louisiana
Well done! Your years of education and hard work have paid off and you are now a licensed CPA in Louisiana! This is the perfect time to become a member of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). This national professional accounting organization offers its members networking and development opportunities, continuing professional education programs as well as professional advice and guidance. Also, think about joining the local Society of Louisiana CPAs.
Think about specialization! In Louisiana, the possibilities for specialized accounting positions include financial planning, information systems auditing, management accounting, forensic accounting and governmental accounting. Or you can work on preparing your practice for the next disaster!