5 Steps to Becoming a CPA in New York

You can’t talk about New York without talking about Wall Street, and you can’t talk about Wall Street without talking about accounting. The lifeblood of the nation’s financial industry courses through the veins of NYC, and a mind-blowing array of specialized accounting professionals working in and around the Financial District keep it well oxygenated.

Even with more than 121,000 accountants and auditors statewide today, according to the U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored resource, O*Net, that number will jump by more than 13,500 in the ten-year run-up to 2028. That’s a 13 percent increase, more than triple the projected increase for the United States overall.

It’s entirely fitting that New York was the first state in the country to create the licensed CPA designation well over 100 years ago. Today the state is up to CPA certificate #136,049.

Follow the steps in this guide to learn how to become a CPA in New York… you could be CPA certificate #136,050.

  1. Get your Education in New York
  2. Take the Uniform CPA Exam in New York
  3. Gain the Necessary Experience in New York
  4. Get your New York CPA License
  5. Continuing Education in New York

1. Get Your Education

a. Request information from New York colleges and universities offering programs in accounting. The New York State Board of Regents, in conjunction with the New York State Board of Public Accountancy requires that CPA candidates hold a bachelor’s degree or higher 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 designed to give you the 150 semester hours you need to meet CPA requirements in New York.

b. You will need to graduate from an accounting program that has registered with the New York State Board of Regents or the State Department of Education. The board recognizes institutions and programs accredited by either:


If your degree was granted in a foreign country, you must have your educational credentials evaluated by one of the following agencies to see if you qualify to take the Uniform CPA Exam in New York:

This evaluation is only of your eligibility to take the examination. The Board will evaluate your educational eligibility for licensure later when you apply for your CPA license. The evaluation agency must submit their evaluation directly to CPA Examination Services (CPAES), who will ultimately determine eligibility to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam.

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c. Meet CPA degree and coursework requirements in New York. The New York State Board of Regents requires the combination of your undergraduate and graduate accounting degree programs to consist of at least 150 total semester hours that encompass the following content areas:

    • 33 semester hours in accounting, with at least one course each in each inof the following content areas with titles such as:
      • Financial accounting and reporting – must be an upper division undergraduate or graduate level course, with course titles like:
        • Accounting for governmental and nonprofit purposes
        • Corporate financial reporting
        • Financial statement analysis
        • Financial reporting
        • Financial accounting
        • Accounting theory
        • Advanced accounting
        • Intermediate accounting
        • Principles of accounting
        • Accounting principles
      • Cost or managerial accounting – courses may come from a community college:
        • Advanced cost management
        • Cost management
        • Managerial accounting
        • Cost accounting
      • Taxation – courses may come from a community college, these courses also satisfythe Accounting Research requirement:
        • International taxation
        • Advanced taxation
        • Basic taxation
        • Business taxation
        • Taxation of business entities
        • Individual taxation
          Corporate taxation
      • Auditing and attestation services – courses must come from the upper division undergraduate or graduate level, and also satisfy the Ethics and Professional Responsibilities requirement:
        • Advanced auditing
        • Principles of auditing
        • Auditing and assurance services
        • Auditing and attestation
        • Auditing
      • Accounting research – courses in taxation section above satisfy this reuqirement:
        • Tax research
        • Accounting research
        • Individual taxation
        • Corporate taxation
        • Auditing
        • Accounting theory
      • Other accounting courses – not necessarily these specific titles but courses such as:
  • 36 semester hours in general business electives, with content areas and course titles such as:
    • Ethics and Professional Responsibilities (courses may be taken from Liberal Arts Dept; must have at least one course in this area, with course titles like):
      • Business ethics
      • Commercial law
      • Business law
    • Business and Accounting Communications (may be taken from Liberal Arts Dept; a non-business writing or public speaking course will also satisfy this requirement; must have at least one course in this area, such as:)
      • Professional speaking
      • Managerial communications
      • International business communications
      • Business writing
      • Business communications
      • Accounting communications

2. Take The Uniform CPA Exam

Students will be allowed to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam in New York after successfully completing at least 120 of the 150 required semester hours and one course in each of the following areas:

  • Audit and attestation
  • Taxation
  • Cost/management accounting
  • Financial accounting

Also, if you do not have the education listed above but have 15 or more years of public accounting experience acceptable to the Board, you may apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam. Complete Form 4-Applicant Experience Record – and submit it to New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions, Division of Professional Licensing Services, CPA Unit, 89 Washington Ave, Albany, NY 12234-1000.

a. Arrange to have an official transcript sent directly from your college or university to CPA Examination Services (CPAES) at: CPA Examination Services-NY, PO Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219-8469. If your school offers official electronic transcripts, they may be emailed to [email protected].

  • If you have already passed part of the Uniform CPA Exam in a jurisdiction other than New York you may arrange to have their previous test scores transmitted to the Board of Regents by having that jurisdiction complete and forward Form 3, Certification of Out of State Licensure and Examination Grades.
  • CPAES recommends that you arrange for the transmission of transcripts and foreign evaluations, where applicable, prior to submitting you application to take the CPA exam.

b. Apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam through CPA Examination Services (CPAES). You may apply online here.

  • Application and examination fees are payable and due at the time of application. These fees must be paid by credit card when applying online. If you apply by mail, you may pay by credit card, certified check, company check, or money order.
  • If you will be requesting special testing accommodations or conditions due to a disability, submit an ADA Accommodation Form directly to CPAES.

c. Mail your application along with the required supporting documentation (listed below) to: CPA Examination Services—NY Coordinator, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219-8469.

d. Wait to receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) (sent by mail or email depending on your chosen method). You should receive NTS within four weeks of submitting the application to take the Uniform CPA Exam. If it is not received within that time, contact CPAES at [email protected].

e. Schedule your exam online through Prometric on the Uniform CPA Exam page of the Prometric website. Testing centers are available throughout New York State including in Albany, Poughkeepsie, Rye, Buffalo, Rochester, and at various sites in and around New York City. You must schedule and take your exam within six months of receiving your NTS. All scheduling, rescheduling, and cancellation of test dates and changes in testing sites must be arranged through Prometric.

f. Arrive at your chosen testing site on your test date. Be on time. Applicants who arrive late will forfeit the fees paid to CPAES and be required to re-apply for the exam.

g. Wait to receive your scores. Exam scores are available online no sooner than 48 hours after completing the exam.

CPA Examination Services can be contacted by phone at 800-CPA-EXAM. Additional information on the Uniform CPA Exam may be found here.

3. Gain The Necessary Experience

Once you have passed the Uniform CPA Exam in its entirety, you will need to meet the experience requirements set forth by the New York State Board of Education, Office of Professions, and the State Board of Regents before getting your CPA license. The Division of Professional Licensing of the New York State Board of Education, Office of Professions will not evaluate your work experience until after you have successfully completed the educational requirements for licensure and taken and passed the Uniform CPA Exam.

a. Gain one year of full-time experience, or the equivalent in part-time work, in the accounting field. Full-time work experience is defined as a five-day work week consisting of between 35 and 40 hours. To be acceptable for New York State licensing purposes, part-time work experience is defined as no fewer than 20 hours per workweek. This will count as one week of full-time experience for every two weeks worked.

b. Make sure the experience meets the requirements. Acceptable experience involves the provision of accounting services or consultation. Candidates must exercise skills related to:

  • Accounting
  • Auditing and attestation
  • Management advisory services
  • Compilation
  • Financial or tax consulting

All work must be performed under the supervision of a CPA licensed in a U.S. jurisdiction or a public accountant who is licensed to practice in New York State. Work that counts toward the experience requirement may be performed at:

  • A public accounting firm
  • A government agency
  • An educational institution
  • A private industrial firm or organization

c. Document your experience. Give a copy of the Application Form 4B, Certification of Employer form to each of the employers for whom you performed your qualifying work experience. You must complete section I of Form 4B before giving it to your employer. Your employer will then complete the form and send it directly to the Division of Professional Licensing Services of the New York State Board of Education, Office of the Professions 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234-1000

4. Get Your New York CPA License

After passing the Uniform CPA Exam and fulfilling the experience requirement, you will be ready to submit your New York State CPA license application. Verify completion of all requirements for licensure in New York:

a. Checklist

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree or higher by completing an accounting program that consists of at least 150 undergraduate semester hours.
  • Take and pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam.
  • Complete one year of full-time work experience that requires use of your accounting skills, or the equivalent in part-time work, under the supervision of a CPA licensed in any U.S. jurisdiction.

b. Apply for your New York CPA license.

For international and out-of-state applicants:

  • Form 2, Certification of Professional Education should only be submitted if you a completed all or a substantial part of your accounting education outside the United States or already took the CPA Exam in a different jurisdiction. If you were educated outside the United States, then you will already have submitted Form 2 prior to taking the CPA Exam.
  • Complete Form 3, Certification of Out-of-State Licensure and Examination Grades, only if you have taken parts of the Uniform CPA Exam in a jurisdiction other than New York or are already licensed as a CPA in another state. Complete Section I of the form and have the appropriate authorities in the jurisdiction in which you took the CPA Exam or have been previously licensed complete the rest of the form and forward it to the New York State Department of Education, Office of Professions.

Interstate/International Reciprocal License

If you are licensed as CPAs in another state that has licensing requirements that are substantially similar to those of New York State, you may apply for licensure by endorsement. A list of significantly comparable jurisdictions is maintained here.

If you are licensed in other jurisdictions but lack the requisite experiential credentials or are licensed in a jurisdiction that does not have requirements substantially similar to those of New York, you must apply for initial licensure.

If you have CPA equivalent credentials from the following international jurisdictions you will be granted reciprocal licensure in New York after passing the International Qualification Examination (IQEX) given that all education and experience requirements have been met.

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA)
  • Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)
  • Instituto Mexicano de Contadores Públicos (IMCP)
  • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)
  • Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI)
  • Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)

5. Keeping Your License Current through Continuing Professional Education

Licensed CPAs in New York State are subject to mandatory continuing professional education (CPE) requirements. CPA licenses must be renewed and registered, every three years. The required CPE credits for renewal must be completed by the end of each triennial registration period.

a. First renewal. New CPAs do not need to complete any continuing education in order to renew their license the first time. The continuing professional educational requirements are not triggered until the first January 1 that falls within their second registration period.

b. Subsequent renewals. Once the continuing education requirement is triggered, you are required to meet certain requirements within each calendar year (January 1 to December 31). The annual CPE requirement may be met by completing either:

  • At least 40 contact hours of acceptable formal education in any of the recognized subject areas designated for CPE requirements


  • At least 24 contact hours of acceptable formal education concentrated entirely in a single recognized subject area

Acceptable continuing education activities include:

  • Taking a live CPE course in New York State
  • Taking a live CPE course outside of New York from a CPE provider registered in New York or approved by NASBA or by the licensing body in the state in which the course is given
  • Taking a self-study CPE course from a provider registered in New York State
  • Preparing and teaching a CPE course through a CPE sponsor registered in New York State; credit for teaching a course can only be claimed when teaching the course for the first time or when teaching the course after significantly revamping the presentation and materials.
  • Preparing and teaching a college course. Credit for teaching a course can only be claimed when teaching the course for the first time or when teaching the course after significantly revamping the presentation and materials.
  • Authoring an article published in a peer-referenced journal or publishing a book in an approved CPE subject area.

The approved subject areas for meeting continuing professional educational requirements for licensed CPAs in New York State include

  • Accounting
  • Advisory Services
  • Auditing
  • Attestation
  • Taxation
  • Specialized knowledge and applications related to specialized industries

c. Ethics requirements. You must also complete 4 hours of continuing education in professional ethics every three-year registration period. The four hours of ethics education may also count toward the annual CPE requirement for the calendar year in which the ethics course is completed.

d. Maintaining record of completed CPE. You are responsible for maintaining records of all the continuing professional education hours you complete. Records should include

  • The name of the educational program
  • The title of the specific course
  • The program sponsor’s name
  • The program sponsor New York ID number
  • The subject area of the course
  • The number of CPE credits awarded
  • The location and date of the course

Records and supporting documents must be maintained by the CPA for at least five years following completion of the CPE course and must be made available to the Department of Education and the State Board for Public Accountancy upon request.

Now that you’re a CPA in New York

Congratulations! As a licensed CPA in the nation’s financial capital, you’ve earned all the prestige that comes with holding one fo the most respected credentials in the business world.

In order to keep current with developments in the field and network with other CPAs, potential employers and clients, consider joining the professional organizations devoted to certified public accountancy. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) not only offers opportunities for professional development and resources for education, but also advocates for CPAs and the profession in general.

The professional organization that provides these benefits in a more localized context is the New York State Society of CPAs.

To deepen your professional experience, you may want to consider specializing in forensic accounting, managerial accounting, compliance accounting, auditing or financial planning.

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