When it comes to business, Maine is about way more than just the old traditional industries that have kept generations of CPAs busy. Admittedly, we still crank out more than 700,000 gallons of maple syrup annually, and exports of the sticky stuff boost our GDP by almost $30 million each year… and, as a traditional home for shipbuilding and maintenance, you’ll still find two of the biggest employers here on the waterfront – Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard employ around 7,000 shipbuilders from all 16 counties with a payroll of over $350 million each year.
Make no mistake, qualified CPAs are needed to manage those payrolls and submit filings to the SEC for companies in those industries just like any other, but the 21st century technology, healthcare and biotechnology industries are making up a bigger and bigger piece of the pie every year, for both state GDP and job creation, as well as for employment of CPAs.
Mainers know the value of a buck, and believe in hard work and the kind of hard won expertise that comes with experience. That means that even outside the world of corporate and management accounting, every day people turn to CPAs for individual accounting services.
The state has plenty of small accounting shops in every town and village that do small business accounting, retirement planning, investment advising, and audit and assurance work. You can find them working in those specialties at local outfits like One River CPAs in Oakland, Bath, and Augusta, or PGM in Biddeford, as well as with big regional firms like Cummings Lamont McNamee in Kennebunk.
If you are ready to make your move, the five steps in this guide will show you exactly how to become a CPA in Maine.
- Get Your Education in Maine
- Take the Uniform CPA Exam in Maine
- Gain the Necessary Experience in Maine
- Get Your Maine CPA License
- Continuing Education in Maine
1. Get Your Education – Meet CPA Degree Requirements in Maine
a. Contact universities in Maine offering accounting programs and request information. The Maine Board of Accountancy requires that all licensed certified public accountants in the state hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and complete 150 semester hours of college education.
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 Maine.
b. The Maine Board of Accountancy accepts accounting programs and all business and accounting credits earned through colleges and universities throughout the country that hold standard regional accreditation through one of these organizations:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
If your college is not Board-approved or regionally accredited, your college credits must be assessed by the Board prior to sitting for the Uniform CPA Exam. Contact the Maine Board of Accountancy at (207) 624-8672 to arrange a Board review of your college credits. International school transcripts must be assessed by Foreign Academic Credentials Service, Inc. or NASBA International Evaluation Services, Inc.
c. Complete specific CPA degree and curriculum requirements. Maine requires CPA applicants to complete at least 150 semester hours of college credit, which is usually earned through a bachelor’s degree in accounting combined with a master’s or post-bachelor’s certificate. Your college credits must meet the following criteria:
- 15 semester hours in one or more of these subjects:
- 3 semester hours in auditing and attestation services (this is mandarory)
- Ethics related to public accounting
- Accounting information systems
- Tax research and analysis
- Accounting research and analysis
- Financial statement analysis
- Internal controls and risk assessment
- Fraud examination
- Managerial or cost accounting
- Financial accounting and reporting for non-profit and government entities
- Financial accounting and reporting for business entities
- Correspondence and online courses are acceptable as long as you receive credit for them at a regionally accredited college or university
- Commercial CPA review courses are not acceptable for credit
- Credit by examination is not acceptable for credit
2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam
Once you have completed 120 hours of the 150 hour total requirement, you may apply to take the Uniform CPA Examination in Maine. You must plan to complete your bachelor’s degree requirements within 120 days of taking the exam.
a. Apply Apply online through National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s (NASBA) CPA Examination Services (CPAES) to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination.
b. Include the proper documentation with your Uniform CPA Exam.
- For applicants who are still in college but plan to obtain a bachelor’s degree within 120 days of taking the exam:
- Submit your college transcript to CPAES (may be submitted by you or directly from your college)
- Complete a Certificate of Enrollment Form signed by you and a college official and submit it to CPAES
- Upon completion of your college courses, you must submit an official, final transcript to CPAES or your exam scores will not be released
- Submit application and examination fees online
- For applicants who have completed 150 semester hours of college credit and received a bachelor’s degree:
- Submit your college transcript to CPAES (may be submitted by you or directly from your college)
- Submit application and examination fees online
c. Mail the required documentation to: CPA Examination Services – ME, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219-8469
d. After the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) has determined your eligibility; you will be sent a Notification to Schedule (NTS) the Uniform CPA Exam.
e. Schedule your examination via Prometric’s website. Exam sites in Maine include Bangor, Presque Isle, and South Portland.
f. Arrive ready to test at the proper testing site on examination day.
g. Once your scores have been tabulated, they will arrive in your postal mail.
For more information or to arrange testing accommodations, call the Maine Coordinator of CPA Examination Services at 800-CPA-EXAM. For detailed information on the Uniform CPA Exam, click here.
3. Gain The Necessary Experience
After passing the Uniform CPA Exam, you must comply with the Maine Board of Accountancy’s practical work experience prerequisite:
The Maine Board of Accountancy has ruled that all state CPA applicants must fulfill at least two years of full-time paid public accounting experience (2080 hours of work experience equals one year). Visit your school’s career center for help finding work experience that meets the criteria. This work experience must include:
- A minimum of 400 hours in review, compilation and auditing
- A minimum of 200 hours in advisory services
- Must be supervised by a licensed CPA in Maine or another jurisdiction
Competencies that should be incorporated into your work experience are:
- Preparing audited financial statements
- Audit procedures
- Review procedures
- Compilation procedures
- Provision of management advisory
- Financial advisory services
- Consulting services
- Preparation of tax returns
- Provision of advice on tax matters
Responsibilities of the Verifying CPA
- Must be a licensed certified public accountant in Maine or within another jurisdiction, or a licensed supervising professional
- Document on the Verification of Work Experience form (found here, within the Individual License Application) the following:
- Dates of employment of the applicant
- Full- or part-time status
- Competencies performed by the applicant
- Describe the nature of the applicant’s duties during employment
- Sign the form and include your CPA license number and state
Responsibilities of the Applicant
- If possible, select a Maine-licensed, certified public accountant to complete the Verification of Work Experience form
- If your supervisor is not a licensed Maine CPA, you must complete Section A of the Verification of Licensure for CPA Supervisor or Licensed Supervisor Professional form (located here), within the Individual License Application) and send the form to the CPA’s State Board of Accountancy to have Section B completed. Provide an addressed envelope for that State Board of Accountancy to send the completed form to: Maine Board of Accountancy, 35 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0035
- Mail the completed Verification of Work Experience form that has been completed by your supervising CPA to the Maine Board of Accountancy
4. Get Your Maine CPA License
Upon passing the Uniform CPA Exam and fulfilling Maine’s practical work experience requirement, you are ready to apply for Maine CPA licensure. Make sure you have completed the following steps:
- Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
- Satisfy Maine’s 150 semester hour education requirement with a master’s in accounting or other post-baccalaureate credits. You are not eligible for Maine CPA licensure until you have fulfilled this requirement, regardless of passing the Uniform CPA Exam. Have your official college transcript(s) sent to the Maine Board of Accountancy, 35 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0035
- Complete Maine’s practical work requirement of 2 years of full-time public accounting employment, and have your supervising CPA document this employment on the Verification of Work Experience form.
b. Apply for your Maine CPA license.Use the Individual License Application. Enclose licensure fee of $147 payable to Maine State Treasurer, or you may pay via credit card. Make sure you and your Verifying CPA have completed the Verification of Licensure for CPA and Verification of Work Experience Forms located within the application packet. Mail everything to Maine Board of Accountancy, 35 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0035.
Interstate Reciprocal License
Are you currently licensed as a CPA in another state? You may qualify for a reciprocal license in Maine if you:
- Hold a license from a substantially equivalent state under the Uniform Accountancy Act as verified by the NASBA National Qualification Appraisal Service (the only jurisdiction not substantially equivalent at this time is the Virgin Islands)
- Hold a license from a state that is not substantially equivalent but the Maine Board of Accountancy determines that your qualifications are equivalent
If your license is from a state that is not substantially equivalent state, you must:
- Meet Maine’s educational and experiential requirements for licensure
- Pass the Uniform CPA exam
- If it has been four or more years since your out of state license was issued, you must satisfy one of the following criteria:
- Complete 40 hours of continuing professional education that satisfies Maine’s rules (see below)
- Have four or more years of work experience in public accounting within the past ten years
- If you passed the Uniform CPA Exam in another jurisdiction, use the CPA License – Out-of-State License Application.
International Reciprocal License
If you hold a CPA license or are a chartered accountant recognized through one of the following organizations you are eligible for international reciprocity in Maine:
- Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)
- Instituto Mexicano De Contadores Publicos (IMCP)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA)
- New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)
- Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)
You must take and pass NASBA’s International Qualification Examination (IQEX) to demonstrate a full understanding of U.S. Professional Standards, taxation, and business law. Information on the IQEX exam may be found here.
If you’re a chartered accountant or CPA from a non-approved international jurisdiction, you must have your educational credentials evaluated by a member organization of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services and follow standard protocol by taking the Uniform CPA Exam.
5. Stay Current Through Continuing Professional Education in Maine
The Maine Board of Accountancy expects all CPAs in the state to satisfy annual continuing professional education (CPE) requirements.
a. To maintain your Maine CPA license, you must complete 40 hours of CPE every year.
- 20 hours of CPE may be carried over to the next annual licensing period
- You must only fulfill 20 hours of CPE during your first licensing period
- 4 hours of professional ethics must be completed every three years
b. Select subject matter for CPE programs from the following categories:
- Administrative practices
- Specialized accounting areas
- Management services
- No more than 50% of your CPE credit may be derived from these subjects:
- Mathematics, statistics or business math applications
- Communication arts
- Business, administrative and securities law
- Computer software applications
- Human resources policies
c. Choose qualifying CPE programs including:
- State and national accounting organizations’ professional development programs
- Credit or non-credit courses from an accredited college or university
- Formal correspondence and individual study courses
- Organized, formal in-house accounting firm programs
- National State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) meetings
- Formal organized educational programs
- Published articles and books, up to 50% of your total CPE credit
- Instructing a course, speaking or discussion leading – 3 hours of CPE credit for each hour, up to 50% of your total CPE credit
- Programs intended to prepare applicants to take the CPA examination do not qualify for CPE credit
- Serving on a committee of a professional organization does not qualify for CPE credit
d. You may find CPE programs in Maine through the following:
- Maine Society of Certified Public Accountants
- American Institute of CPAs
- Maine colleges and universities (for the state government’s list of some CPE programs at state institutions, click here)
e. In case of audit, you should keep documentation of your CPE for at least 5 years, including the dates, course title and description, school or organization where course occurred, and number of CPE hours per course.
Now That You’re a CPA in Maine
Good job! You’re a licensed CPA in Maine! Consider joining the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), as this national organization provides members with continuing professional education opportunities, as well as professional guidance and discounts on things you’ll use around the office every day. Professional accounting organizations in Maine that you might want to consider joining include the Maine Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Maine Association of Professional Accountants.
Think about specializing! Specializations within the discipline of accounting that are popular in Maine are auditor, management accountant, personal financial specialist, financial analyst, financial controller, senior wealth manager, and municipal accountant.