New Mexico has earned itself a serious reputation in national business circles. According to research and analytics firm IBISWorld, New Mexico’s mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry expanded by a staggering 28.6 percent in 2018. Bringing in $10 billion per year to the state GDP, it’s the second largest industry in the state.
There is a lot of accounting to go along with natural resource extraction. Payroll, import/export calculations, and the complexities of dealing with safety and government regulation are all driving significant demand for CPAs in the Land of Enchantment.
With a sizable presence from the federal government, from Sandia Labs to White Sands Missile Range, you will also find plenty of governmental accounting jobs here. Tasks like auditing, budgeting, and other fiscal considerations mean that both state, federal, and local governments are almost always on the lookout for accounting talent.
And like every other American, the people of New Mexico have the sort of accounting needs that keep CPA firms burning the midnight oil. Retirement planning, investment advising, and educational savings plans fall squarely in the wheelhouse of firms like Albuquerque’s Hinkle + Landers or shops like Pillar CPAs in Los Lunas. The relatively small market means a lot of variety for the average CPA, whether working with wealthy families and small businesses or the major powerhouses of the corporate world. This can keep things interesting no matter where you get hired here.
It all starts with learning how to become a CPA in New Mexico. The steps in this guide will show you exactly how.
- Get your Education in New Mexico
- Take the Uniform CPA Exam in New Mexico
- Gain the Necessary Experience in New Mexico
- Get your New Mexico CPA License
- Continuing Education in New Mexico
1. Get Your Education
a. Contact New Mexico colleges and universities with accounting programs to ask for information. The New Mexico Public Accountancy Board states that all certified public accountants practicing in the state need at least a bachelor’s degree with 150 total semester hours of college credit including 30 semester hours in accounting.
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 New Mexico.
b. The New Mexico Public Accountancy Board recognizes all degrees and programs that meet these accreditation standards:
- Level 1 Accreditation: Graduate from a four-year college or university that is accredited by one of the following agencies:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- Higher Learning Commission
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges–Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges–Commission for Senior Colleges
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools–Commission on Colleges
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
- Level 2 Accreditation: Graduate from a four-year college or university whose business school or college of business is accredited by one of the following:
- Level 3 Accreditation: Graduate from a four-year college or university whose accounting program or accounting department is accredited by one of the following:
If you attended a foreign college or university, your academic credentials must be evaluated by a member agency of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Service (NACES). Evaluations and foreign school transcripts must be submitted to CPA Examination Services directly from the evaluation agency.
c. Meet CPA degree and curriculum requirements set by the New Mexico Public Accountancy Board. You must have a bachelor’s degree or higher with 150 semester hour credits, 30 of which must be in accounting or auditing courses. Some other points worth noting:
- Both graduate and undergraduate courses can contribute to meeting the 150 semester hour requirement
- No more than 3 semester hours may be taken in business law
- Finance courses may not be taken in lieu of accounting courses
- At least 15 semester hours must be taken by attending class in-person on campus
- Transcripts that are stamped “issued to student” will not be accepted
- Correspondence, pass/fail grade courses and CLEP will be accepted if you receive credit for them when transferring them in to the college that grants your bachelor’s
- Community college courses from accredited community colleges are acceptable
- Commercial CPA review courses will not be accepted
2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam
Under New Mexico Public Accountancy Board regulations, once you have earned a bachelor’s degree and completed at least 30 semester hours of accounting, you may sit for the Uniform CPA Exam.
a. Go to CPA Examination Services (CPAES) to register online or download application forms.
b. Submit the appropriate documentation with your application
- Have your college or university send your official transcript directly to CPAES
- Pay application fees by credit card online
- All supporting documentation and fees should be mailed to: CPA Examination Services, New Mexico Coordinator, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219-8469. CPAES may be contacted by phone at 800-CPA-EXAM.
As needed, also include:
- An ADA Modification Form if disability testing accommodations are required
- Have your foreign evaluation agency send a Foreign Evaluation of your academic credentials, if applicable, directly to CPAES
c. Receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS) the Uniform CPA Exam, which will be sent to you by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).
d. Go to Prometric’s website to schedule your examination. . New Mexico sites include:
- Las Cruces
- Santa Fe
e. Arrive at the correct Prometric examination site on your chosen day ready to test.
f. Wait to receive your scores from NASBA. Once your exam has been scored, the results will be mailed to you.
For detailed information on the Uniform CPA Exam, click here.
3. Gain The Necessary Experience
Every practicing CPA in New Mexico must have fulfilled the state’s work experience requirement.
a. First, you must pass the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)’s Home Study Course on Professional Ethics. Order this course here through the New Mexico Society of Certified Public Accountants.
b. The New Mexico Public Accountancy Board requires CPA candidates to have at least one year (2000 hours) of paid or volunteer public accounting experience. Your college’s career center can assist you in locating suitable opportunities. Experience must meet the following criteria:
- Be supervised by a licensed CPA (licensed in New Mexico or another state).
- Be attained through working in public practice, government, academia or industry.
- Be full- or part-time employment from one to three years in duration
- Involve the use of any of the following skills or a combination thereof:
- Management advisory
- Financial advisory
- Preparing financial reports and statements
- Preparing tax returns
- Consulting, designing and/or implementing computer software programs that involve auditing and/or accounting
- Be obtained in the 7 years leading up to taking and passing the Uniform CPA Exam, or within 7 years of passing the CPA exam.
- Be documented by a licensed CPA on the Work Experience Verification Form
c. After your supervising CPA has completed the form, he or she must return it to you in a sealed envelope that has been signed by the verifying CPA. You must then send the form to: New Mexico Public Accountancy Board, 5200 Oakland Avenue, Suite D, Albuquerque, NM 87113.
d. If your verifying CPA is not licensed in New Mexico, complete Section 1 of the Interstate Notification of Verifying CPA’s License form (included in the Application for Certification packet). Your verifying CPA must complete Section 2 of the form. Then the form must be forwarded to the State Board that holds your verifying CPA’s license. This State Board will complete the form and forward it to the New Mexico Public Accountancy Board.
4. Get Your New Mexico CPA License
You are now ready to apply for CPA Certification. Check that you have completed the following steps:
- Complete 150 semester hours of college education, with 30 semester hours of accounting credits, and earn a bachelor’s degree or higher
- Pass the Uniform CPA Exam
- NASBA will forward your college transcript to the Board
- Pass the AICPA Ethics Examination. The AICPA will send your Certificate of Completion to the Board
- Satisfy the Board’s experience requirement of one year (2000 hours) and have it verified by a supervising CPA
- Send your Work Experience Verification Form along with your completed application to the address in Step 2.
- If your verifying CPA is not licensed in New Mexico, complete the Interstate Notification of Verifying CPA’s License form and submit it to the State Board in which he or she is licensed.
b. Apply for your New Mexico CPA Certificate.
- Complete the Application for a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and have it notarized.
- Attach a 2” x 2” passport-sized photo of yourself to the application
- As of November 5, 2013, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety no longer accepts hard copy fingerprint cards. You must go to CogentID to complete the fingerprinting process online.
- Completed Experience Verification Form, if not already submitted
- Completed Interstate Notification of Verifying CPA’s license, if necessary
- Passing scores for Ethics Exam
- Send your application fee of $175 via check or money order payable to the New Mexico Public Accountancy Board
- Send your completed application and the documents listed above to the Board at: New Mexico Public Accountancy Board, 5200 Oakland Avenue, Suite D, Albuquerque, NM 87113
Interstate Reciprocal Certificate
If you hold a CPA certificate or license from another state and want to practice as a CPA in New Mexico, you may apply for a CPA Certificate by Reciprocity.
- Obtain the Application for CPA Certificate by Reciprocity . Fill it out completely and have it notarized.
- Attach a 2” x 2” passport-sized photo of yourself to the application
- As of November 5, 2013, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety no longer accepts hard copy fingerprint cards. You must go to CogentID to complete the fingerprinting process online
- Attach a photocopy of your current, valid out-of-state CPA license.
- Complete the Interstate Exchange of Information form (found within application packet). This will authorize another state’s Board to release your CPA Exam scores and licensure status to the New Mexico Public Accountancy Board. Mail this form to the state in which you hold a CPA license.
- If you have been licensed as a CPA for less than two years, have your college send official transcripts directly to the Board.
- If you have been licensed as a CPA for less than two years, complete the Transcript Summary Form (included in application packet).
- If you have been licensed as a CPA for less than two years, have a supervising CPA complete the Experience Verification Form (included in application packet) documenting at least one year of experience. The CPA must return the form to you in a signed, sealed envelope.
- If you have been licensed as a CPA for less than two years and your verifying CPA is not licensed in New Mexico, complete Section 1 of the Interstate Notification of Verifying CPA’s License form (included in application packet). Your verifying CPA must complete Section 2 of the form. Then the form must be forwarded to the State Board that holds your verifying CPA’s license. This State Board will complete the form and forward it to the New Mexico Public Accountancy Board
- If you are licensed as a CPA in a state that is not substantially equivalent to New Mexico in terms of requirements for education, experience and examination, you must pass the AICPA Ethics Test with a grade of 90% or better (Currently, the only territories that are not substantially equivalent to New Mexico under the Uniform Accountancy Act are Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands).
- Send your application fee of $175 by check or money order payable to the New Mexico Public Accountancy Board
- Send your completed application and documents listed above to the Board at: New Mexico Public Accountancy Board, 5200 Oakland Avenue, Suite D, Albuquerque, NM 87113
International Reciprocal Certificate
The New Mexico Public Accountancy Board recognizes accounting credentials from certain international jurisdictions as being substantially equivalent. If you hold a CPA license from any of the international jurisdictions listed below, you may seek reciprocal CPA certification by taking 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)
- Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)
- New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)
If you hold credentials from one of these licensing bodies:
- 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, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37249-8469
- 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.
If you hold a CPA license from an international jurisdiction other than those listed above, you must follow the regular New Mexico licensing procedure, starting with an education credential evaluation and taking the Uniform CPA Exam.
5. Stay Current Through Continuing Professional Education in New Mexico
If you hold a New Mexico CPA Certificate, you must satisfy the continuing professional education (CPE) requirements set by the New Mexico Public Accountancy Board.
a. Fulfill 120 hours of CPE every three years
- At least 20 hours of CPE must be completed each year
- 96 CPE hours must be in technical subjects, including but not limited to:
- Financial reporting
- Management consulting
- Financial consulting
- Financial advisory
- 4 CPE hours must be in a Board-approved ethics course on topics including, but not limited to:
- The AICPA code of professional conduct
- New Mexico occupational and professional licensing code of professional conduct for certified public accountants
- Treasury Circular 230
- Malpractice avoidance
- Organization ethics
- Moral reasoning
- CPA duties to clients, the public, and colleagues
- At least 24 CPE hours every three years may not be earned at programs sponsored by or hosted by your accounting firm, company or organization
- 50 minutes of class time equals one CPE hour
- A full one-day program equals 8 CPE hours
b. Enroll in the following approved CPE formats:
- Lecturing, leading discussions, and speaking at CPE programs, or instructing university or college courses that contribute to the professional competence of a CPA (may not account for more than 60 CPE hours every three years)
- Publishing articles and books that contribute to a CPA’s professional competence
- Attending professional development programs of national and state accounting organizations, or attending technical sessions of meetings of national and state accounting organizations and their chapters (may not account for more than 4 CPE hours each year)
- University or college level credit courses (1 hour of class time equals 15 CPE hours)
- University or college level non-credit courses (1 hour of class time equals 1 CPE hour)
- Accounting firm peer review participation (may not account for more than 24 CPE hours per year)
- Individual, correspondence or self-study programs
c. Avoid the following formats, which do not count towards CPE credit:
- CPA Exam review courses
- Community enhancement, industrial development, or political study groups, courses, programs or seminars
- Courses, seminars or programs that teach a foreign language
- Shareholder, partner or member meetings; business meetings; social functions; and committee service (unless structured as formal educational CPE programs)
d. Maintain records of your CPE hours for at least five years. These records must include:
- Course outline prepared by course sponsor
- Transcript showing course completion for credit college courses
- Signed statement of hours of attendance for non-credit college courses
- Documentation of completion by the institution of individual, correspondence or self-study programs
- Complete the Board’s CPE Report Form and submit it every three years at the time of your CPA certificate renewal
e. Find approved CPE programs through:
- New Mexico Society of Certified Public Accountants
- American Institute of CPAs
- NASBA’s National Registry of CPE Sponsors
- New Mexico colleges and universities
Now that you’re a CPA in New Mexico
Congratulations! You have become a licensed CPA in New Mexico! Think about joining the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). This national professional organization offers members professional development and networking opportunities, continuing professional education programs and professional guidance. Also, consider becoming a member of the local New Mexico Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Think about specializing in a sub-discipline of accounting! Possibilities in New Mexico include information systems accounting, management advisory and consulting, financial planning, or even careers with the IRS!