What are the Requirements for Becoming a CPA?

When accounting professionals become CPAs they have demonstrated their knowledge pertaining to the discipline so that they can use the prestigious title. If you are currently studying to become an accounting professional, one of the first questions you need to ask yourself is whether or not your goal is to become a CPA. Asking this question early on in your student career can help you, primarily because you can learn the requirements and fulfill all of these requirements while you are still in school. Failing to fulfill the educational requirements while in a Bachelor’s program is common because many of the states have tightened their CPA requirements. If you are very likely working towards your CPA, here are common requirements you should be familiar with.

The Common Educational Requirements to Become a CPA

The first requirement you will need to be worried about satisfying is the educational requirement. One of the first things you should be aware of, if you plan to sit for the CPA exam, is that the requirements vary by state. If you plan on moving out of state, you should research the requirements in your current state and in the state you will relocate to to see if they differ. In the past, all states would accept applicants with a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Now, you must meet semester unit requirements.

Some states still accept students who have completed 120 semester units, which is standard for a Bachelor’s degree. Now, many states have extended this requirement to 150 units so that applicants possess a Master’s degree prior to testing for a CPA credential. On average, between 25 and 30 of the semester units must be accounting related and another 25 to 30 must be business related. Typically, a Master’s degree is not a requirement, but taking Master’s level courses may be necessary. This ensures that the student took a relevant degree program to be labeled a CPA.

Professional Experience Requirements to Become a CPA

Aspiring CPAs must pay their dues before they can sit to take the Uniform CPA Exam. Paying your dues involves gaining experience within the profession under the supervision of a Certified Public Accountant. The requirements for professional experience can range, but on average, states will require that applicants have either one or two years of general accounting experience. Many times, to test with 1 year of experience, applicants will need to have 150 credit hours completed. If you have more experience and less educational experience, you still may be able to test.

After you meet both the educational and professional experience requirements to become a CPA, you will need to take a competency test called the Uniform CPA Exam. The exam consists four different sections which all must be completed within an 18 month period. Upon the completion of each part of the exam, the test taker will be be licensed. Remember that the collective pass rate of each section of the exam is less than 50%, which means that anyone testing show be prepared. If you would like to be a CPA, work at your degree first, gain experience, and then apply to sit for your exam.