The Oracle of Omaha, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, once said “Your best investment is in yourself.” Buffett was talking about education, and although he was an economics major (and an alum of UNL!), he surely would be just as much in favor of anyone seeking out a degree in accounting.
Having made his fortune and fame on the back of shrewd investing decisions, Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway and its many subsidiaries are awash in talented CPAs that ensure he continues to make those calls with the best data and analysis possible.
Every May, investors from around the world flock to Omaha to hear the words of wisdom from Berkshire Hathaway’s senior leadership at the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting. Many of the people standing up on that stage have certified public accounting licenses. It’s not an easy goal to reach, and only investing wizards with the best education and credentials make it.
The steps in this guide will show you exactly how to become a CPA in Nebraska.
- Get your Education in Nebraska
- Take the Uniform CPA Exam in Nebraska
- Gain the Necessary Experience in Nebraska
- Get your Nebraska CPA License
- Continuing Education in Nebraska
1. Get Your Education
a. Request information from Nebraska’s colleges and universities offering programs in accounting. The Nebraska Board of Public Accountancy requires all CPA license applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree at minimum and 150 total 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 designed to give you the 150 semester hours you need to meet CPA requirements in Nebraska.
b. Confirm that the accounting program or business school you’re considering is accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and listed in their Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
- Credits for courses completed at two-year or four-year non-accredited colleges are acceptable if they are transferred to the accredited college that granted your degree.
- If your degree is from a non-accredited institution, your education credentials will be acceptable if:
- An accredited institution accepts you into their graduate program based on your degree
- You provide evidence to the Nebraska Board of Public Accountancy (NBPA) that your education is comparable to that of an accredited institution.
- If your education is from outside the United States you must have your transcripts evaluated by a member organization of The National Association of Credential Evaluation Services, or by NASBA International Evaluation Services. The evaluation agency must do a course by course comparison and send their findings to to CPA Examination Services (CPAES) for final approval to take the Uniform CPA Exam. The address is:
CPAES- Nebraska Coordinator
PO Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219-8469
c. Meet CPA degree and curriculum requirements. For CPA licensure Nebraska requires a bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours/225 quarter hours of college education that includes:
- At least 30 semester/45 quarter hours in subjects related to accounting. These courses must be post-basic accounting subjects including:
- At least 36 semester/54 quarter hours in business subjects including:
- Business law
- Business Communication
- Business Ethics
- Quantitative applications in business
- Principles of accounting
- 60 semester/90 quarter hours of general college education including:
- Oral and written communication skills
- Arts, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities
- The remaining 24 semester hours/36 quarter hours can be electives.
- Correspondence, on-line or CPA review courses, and CLEP credits are acceptable if they appear on the official transcripts of your degree granting accredited institution.
2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam
Take the following steps once you have met the educational requirements to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam set by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the Nebraska Board of Public Accountancy:
a. Apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam. Either apply online or download application forms through NASBA’s CPA Exam Services.
b. Send the following items with the application packet to CPA Exam Services-NE Coordinator, PO BOX 198469, Nashville, TN 37219:
- Original transcripts. Official transcripts must be sent directly from the institutions from which you received credit
- Pay the $160 first time application fee and the examination fees for the exam sections you chose. You can pay the fee online using credit card, or money order or certified check with the hard copy application. Write your name and the exam sections you are taking in the Memo field on the check.
Include the following documents as applicable:
- Certificate of Enrollment form if you are enrolled in college at the time of your initial application. COE states that you’ll complete the education requirements within 60 days of taking your first CPA exam section.
- Authorization for Interstate Exchange of Exam and Licensure Information if you passed the exam as a candidate of another state and want to transfer credit to Nebraska.
- ADA Modification Form in compliance with the American Disability Act in case you need disability accommodations.
c. Wait for approval of your application. Upon approval, you’ll receive the notification to schedule (NTS) from NASBA. NTS should be received within 5 working days of payment by credit card through online registration, or within 6 weeks if you submitted a paper application.
- NTS will be sent from email@example.com. Add this email address to your contact list to make sure the NTS gets delivered to your email inbox. If you have not received your NTS within these timeframes, you can contact CPAES by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
d. Schedule the exam and pay Prometric’s fees at www.prometric.com. The NTS is valid for 6 months, so be sure to schedule your exam within that window. Nebraska testing sites include Kearney, Lincoln, Scottsbluff and Omaha.
e. Prepare for the CPA exam section(s) you’ve applied for and arrive at your selected testing location on time. You can test for up to 4 exam sections at the same time. You have to pass all four sections with a grade of 75 in an 18 month period to be eligible for a Nebraska CPA certificate.
f. Wait for the results. You will be notified through your chosen method (email or mail) and be directed to check exam scores online.
For more comprehensive information on the Uniform CPA Examination, click here.
3. Apply for Certification and Acquire the Necessary Experience
Nebraska is a two-tier state meaning you are able to apply for a CPA certificate after successful completion of the Uniform CPA Exam and Professional Ethics Course. A certificate does not grant practice privileges, however. All experiential requirements must be met in order to be licensed and granted a Nebraska CPA Permit to Practice.
a. Take the Professional Ethics Course offered by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). The minimum passing grade is 90%.
b. Apply for your Nebraska CPA certificate using the Application for Certificate Issuance (By Exam). The certificate does not allow you to represent yourself as a CPA or offer CPA accounting services.
c. Acquire the necessary experience. In Nebraska, the requisite experience must meet the following criteria:
- Acquired through government, academia, industry, or public accountancy work
- At least 4,000 hours earned in a minimum of two years.
- Obtained under the direct supervision of a CPA with a current, active permit to practice within a licensed and registered CPA firm.
- If you elect to fulfill the experience requirement working in government, this experience has to be at least three years and be performed with the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts, Nebraska Department of Revenue, or the Federal Internal Revenue Service.
d. Have your supervising CPA complete the Public Accounting Experience Form including a notarized signature. Contact the Nebraska Board at (402) 471-3595 or 1-800-564-6111 (Nebraska Only) if your experience is in government work, as this will require specific forms not available online. You’ll send the completed Public Accounting Experience Form with your Permit to Practice application packet.
4. Obtain your Nebraska CPA Permit to Practice
After the Nebraska Board of Public Accountancy (NBPA) reviews and approves your certification application, the Board will mail your Permit to Practice Application. You can only offer CPA services once you have been granted a Permit to Practice.
a. Verify that you have completed the following:
- Fulfilled the education requirements: A bachelor’s degree or higher and 150 semester hours/225 quarter hours of education including 30 semester hours/45 quarter hours of accounting, 36 semester hours/54 quarter hours of business subjects, and 60 semester/90 quarter hours of general education.
- Passed the Uniform CPA Exam with a minimum score of 75 on all sections within a rolling 18 months period
- Passed the professional ethics course provided by AICPA with a score of 90%.
- Applied for and received your CPA certificate from the Nebraska Board of Public Accountancy
- Acquired two years experience verified by a CPA within a registered CPA firm or government department (three years of experience is required for government work)
- Submitted the Public Accounting Experience form completed by your supervising CPA
b. Complete the CPA Permit to Practice application, which you will receive upon approval of your CPA certificate application.
c. Submit the application along with the notarized Public Accounting Experience form, and $200.00 permit fee to: The Nebraska Board of Public Accountancy, P.O. Box 94725, Lincoln, NE 68509
d. Wait to receive your permit to practice from NBPA.
Permit to Practice by Reciprocity
If you are licensed in another state and are either a resident of Nebraska, regularly employed in Nebraska, or have a place of business in Nebraska, you can apply for the CPA certificate by reciprocity here. The requirements are:
- You have passed the Uniform CPA Exam
- You meet the Nebraska education requirements as described above
- Your license is in good standing with the original board from which it was issued
- You have passed the AICPA professional ethics exam
- If you have been a practicing CPA in 4 of the last 10 years, you can also use the “4 in 10” reciprocity application.
Permit to Practice by Foreign Reciprocity
If you have an accounting designation from the following international credentialing bodies you are automatically granted a permit by reciprocity given that you pass the NASBA IQEX exam:
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA)
- Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)
- Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI)
- Instituto Mexicano de Contadores Públicos (IMCP)
- New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)
- Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)
If you have a foreign designation from another country, you’ll need your transcripts evaluated. You’ll also be required to take the Uniform CPA Examination (see education section for info on foreign credential evaluation services).
5. Keeping Your Permit Current Through Continuing Professional Education
The Nebraska CPA permit is renewed every two years. As a Nebraska CPA, you are required to participate in 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) within each two-year registration renewal period.
- CPE earned in a calendar year must be reported before January 31st of the following year. You can renew your permit online or complete the CPE Attendance Report form.
- CPE requirements are waived if you had illness, hardship or other circumstances beyond your control.
- Refer to the NBPA CPE Guidelines for un explanation of renewal cycles, which are determined by your birth year
Your CPE hours must meet the following criteria:
- A minimum of 40% of your hours must be in accounting and attestation related subjects
- A maximum of 30% of your hours must be in non-technical subjects
- No more than 50% of your hours can be in self study, or college instruction
- 4 hours of ethics is required every renewal period.
CPE Record Retention
You should keep your CPE attendance records and course documents for 6 years.
Now that you’re a CPA in Nebraska
As a CPA you might want to join the professional organizations that promote the profession, provide professional development, networking, and CPE opportunities. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the national organization that provides these opportunities, and at the state level, it’s the Nebraska Society of CPAs.
And if you are serious about pursuing opportunities at Berkshire Hathaway or any other financial services firm, you might also brush up on making calculations for evaluating investment opportunities. Buffett started his climb to wealth and fortune when he was seven years old after reading a book called “One Thousand Ways to Make $1,000” but you can probably find even better sources today!