5 Steps to Becoming a CPA in Maryland

According to O*Net, a U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored resource, job growth for auditors and experienced accountants in Maryland over the next few years is expected to jump by 10 percent. That’s going to result in an estimated 3,630 job openings per year through 2028, a combination of new job creation and normal turnover for existing positions as the old guard transitions into retirement.

These kinds of job growth projections indicate a lot of opportunities for anyone learning how to become a CPA in Maryland in the coming years.

Those jobs will be opening up at big corporations including Marriott International and Lockheed Martin, two of the Fortune 500 companies that are headquartered here. They’ll also be opening up at the traditional Big Four accounting giants, like KPMG, which has offices in Hyattsville and Baltimore. And there are a healthy crop of smaller regional and local firms scattered across the state too, including Ellin & Tucker in Baltimore and Sigma in Columbia.

In fact, in Accounting Today’s list of the 100 Best Accounting Firms to Work For, Maryland figures prominently, with firms like Bormel, Grice & Huyett coming in first in the state and number 16 nationally in 2020. Along the Baltimore Washington Corridor, there is a big demand for talented CPAs, and accounting firms know how to keep them in the ranks with strong starting offers and attractive retention packages.

Learn how to become an accountant in Maryland in five steps.

  1. Get your Education in Maryland
  2. Take the Maryland Uniform CPA Exam
  3. Take the Uniform CPA Exam in Maryland
  4. Get your Maryland CPA License
  5. Continuing Education in Maryland

1. Get Your Education

a. Request information from universities in Maryland offering programs in accounting. The Maryland Board of Public Accountancy requires all certified public accountants to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher with a major in accounting, 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. Many of these programs are available entirely online. You can also find specialized five-year CPA track programs that offer a blended bachelor’s and master’s curriculum to give you the 150 semester hours you need to meet CPA requirements in Maryland.

b. If you’re already enrolled in an accounting program or have already earned your degree, confirm that the program is approved by the Maryland Board of Public Accountancy. In Maryland, programs must be accredited by one of the following associations:

If your program is not accredited by one of these entities, it must be evaluated by the Maryland Board of Public Accountancy to see if it fulfills the state’s education requirements so that you can sit for the Uniform CPA Examination. Non-United States school transcripts must be evaluated by the NASBA International Evaluation Service (NIES).

c. Be sure to enroll in the right classes. In Maryland, the requirements include:  the completingon of at least 150  undergraduate semester hours or 225  undergraduate quarter hours, earning a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Additionally,  encompassing: your coursework must include a certain number of hours from each of the following subject groups:

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  • Group 1: Accounting and Ethics Education – at least 30 undergraduate semester hours (45 undergraduate quarter hours) must come from this group. Mandatory courses include:
    • 3 semester hours in cost accounting
    • 3 semester hours in auditing, managerial accounting or cost accounting
    • 3 semester hours in U.S. Federal Income Tax
    • 3 semester hours in business ethics or 3 semester hours in accounting ethics or 3 semester hours in philosophy of ethics
    • 9 semester hours in financial accounting
    • 9 semester hours in elective accounting courses
  • Group 2: Business-Related Education – at least 21 undergraduate semester hours (32 quarter credit hours) must come from this group. Courses must be taken in five of these nine subject areas:
    • Computer science/information systems
    • Quantitative methods
    • Business communication
    • U.S. business law
    • Marketing
    • Management
    • Corporation or business finance
    • Economics
    • Statistics

2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam

Once you’ve satisfied Maryland’s educational requirements, you’re eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam.

a. Begin the application process online.You will start by completing the Core Course Inventory Worksheet, which you will refer to as you fill out the online application. You will be told what needs to be mailed to the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, such as college transcripts and fees, and the address to which to send them.

b. You will be notified by mail of your approval to sit for the examination. Once you have received a Notification to Schedule from the National Association of State Boards of Accounting (NASBA), visit Prometric’s website to schedule your exam at a Maryland testing site. They include:

  • Salisbury
  • Bethesda
  • Towson
  • Baltimore
  • Columbia
  • Landover

c. Report to the exam site on the day of your examination prepared for testing.

d. After the exam, NASBA will report your grades to the Board, who will notify you by email that your grades are posted online. Instructions on how to access your grades will also be included.

For more information or to request special accommodations, call the Maryland Board of Public Accountancy at (410) 230-6258. For detailed information on the Uniform CPA Exam, click here.

3. Gain The Necessary Experience

After passing the Uniform CPA Exam, you’ll need to satisfy Maryland’s experiential requirements as the final step to being eligible for licensure.

Begin the practical experience portion of your licensing requirements. This should consist of paid employment and must be documented and verified by a supervising licensed CPA. Opportunities can be found through your school’s career center. Your employment must meet the following criteria:

  • At least 2000 hours (one full year) of practical accounting-related experience
  • This experience must be verified, endorsed and approved by an active licensed CPA.
  • This experience must occur within three years of applying for your Maryland CPA license.
  • Employment may be within the areas of government, academia, public practice or industry.
  • Services that must be provided by the employer must fall within the areas of attest, financial advisory, management advisory, consulting, or tax.

Competencies that should be covered during your practical experience include:

  • Communications and leadership skills
  • Critical thinking and strategic skills
  • Focus on the client, customer and market
  • Interpretation of converging information
  • Technological adeptness

Responsibilities of the Verifying CPA

  • Must hold an active CPA license
  • Obtain and fill out the applicant’s Report of Practical Work Experience. (Use this form for practical work experience gained within Maryland, and this form for practical work experience gained outside of Maryland)
  • Verify the applicant’s work history and education information
  • Verify the applicant’s description of his or her work under you
  • Provide information on the applicant’s practical work experience, including an assessment of time management skills, the applicant’s performance, and a narrative describing the applicant’s work
  • Mail the Report of Practical Work Experience to the Board in the envelope provided to you by the applicant

Responsibilities of the Applicant

  • Choose an actively licensed CPA for supervision, endorsement and verification of your practical work experience
  • Complete applicable sections in the Report of Practical Work Experience, including documentation of your duties, a description of duties, and the time involved
  • Provide your Report of Practical Work Experience to the licensed CPA for completion
  • Provide the licensed CPA with a pre-addressed stamped envelope to return the Report of Practical Work Experience to the Maryland Board of Public Accountancy 500 North Calvert Street – Room 308, Baltimore, Maryland 21202-3651

4. Get Your Maryland CPA License

Now that you’ve passed the exam and completed the practical work experience requirement, you’re ready for licensure. Here’s a checklist of everything you’ll to have done up to this point:

a. Checklist

  • Complete education requirements of 150 undergraduate semester hours. Have your official school transcript sent directly from your school to the CPA Examination Coordinator, Third Floor, 500 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202
  • Apply online to take the Uniform CPA Examination.
  • Take and pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
  • Complete 2000 hours (12 months) of Practical Work Experience in accounting under the supervision of a licensed CPA.
  • Submit the Report of Practical Work Experience completed by you and the verifying licensed CPA.

b. Apply for your Maryland CPA license. The licensing process begins with the Maryland Board of Public Accountancy’s online licensure application.

Interstate Reciprocal License

  • Option 1: Candidates who hold an active CPA license in another state and have four years of experience in the past 10 years since passing the Uniform CPA exam must submit the Report of Practical Work Experience and all transcripts and exam scores. Apply for your license through the State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The CPA Reciprocal Initial Application can be found here.
  • Option 2: Candidates who hold an active CPA license in another state and have passed the Uniform CPA Exam must complete the Reciprocal Application Course Checklist, have all official school transcripts sent to the Maryland Board of Public Accountancy, and complete and submit a Report of Practical Work Experience. Apply for your license through the State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. CPA- Transfer of Grades Application can be found here.

International Reciprocal License

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) along with NASBA has concluded that CPAs or Chartered Accountants from any of the following international jurisdictions is substantially equivalent to requirements for CPA licenses and certificates in United States jurisdictions:

  • 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)

The Maryland Board of Public Accountancy accepts CPAs and chartered accountants credentialed through these six international bodies for international reciprocity. If you are a chartered accountant or CPA from one of these approved international jurisdictions, you must:

  • Request a Letter of Good Standing to be submitted from your country’s credentialing agency to NASBA
  • Apply here to take the International Uniform Certified Public Account Qualification Examination (IQEX). Mail your application and fees to: NASBA, Attn: IQEX Coordinator, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 3724419-8469.
  • You will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) the IQEX by mail or email (whichever method you have previously chosen) and be able to schedule your test via Prometric’s website.
  • Test results will be mailed to you as they are available.

If you’re a chartered accountant or CPA from an international jurisdiction not listed here, you must follow the standard process and take the Uniform CPA Exam in Maryland and have your educational credentials evaluated by the NASBA International Evaluation Service (NIES).

5. Stay Current Through Continuing Professional Education in Maryland

The Maryland Board of Public Accountancy requires each licensed CPA in the state to complete continuing professional education (CPE) every two years in order to maintain licensure. Only programs that relate directly to the professional competencies of a CPA qualify for credit. The knowledge gained from the CPE must be useful to the CPA and not redundant.

a. No Continuing Professional Education is required for your first license renewal.

b. For the second and successive license renewals, 80 hours of CPE are required every two years. Of that 80 hours:

  • 4 hours must be in professional ethics
  • College-credit or self-study courses must include a final examination
  • A maximum of 76 credit hours of CPE may be carried over to the next reporting period if you have exceeded 80 hours in a two-year licensing period (a 4 hour professional ethics course must still be taken during the next licensing period).

c. Each CPA must maintain CPE records for four years documenting attendance, course outline and instructor

Now that you’re a CPA in Maryland

Congratulations! You’ve made it! You’re a licensed, certified public accountant in Maryland! You may want to consider joining the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), an organization providing professional development and networking opportunities, professional guidance, as well as discounts for members from office supply companies and shipping firms. Other professional CPA societies exist within Maryland that you might want to become a member of include the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA) and the MSATP: Maryland Society of Accounting & Tax Professionals.

Consider specializing! Specializations popular among Maryland CPAs include forensic accounting, information technology, auditing and assurance services, advisory or consulting services, tax, and compliance services.

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