Follow this general guide to earn your CPA
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Follow this general guide to earn your CPA

10 months ago · 2 min read

Let us help you along your CPA journey.

Your journey to the CPA license will be a challenging, yet rewarding, experience. We want to ensure you have the information and resources to help you achieve your goal. There are many steps to the process, but your journey begins with learning the basics.

There are essentially three components to earning the CPA license: Education, Examination, and Experience. In many cases, there is also a final Ethics exam component depending upon the jurisdiction where you want to be licensed.

The AICPA’s CPA Exam Booklet and National Association of State Board of Accountancy’s (NASBA) Candidate Bulletin can provide you with valuable information to help you along your CPA journey. You’ll also find support and other resources through This Way to CPA, our LinkedIn CPA Exam Candidate Group, or by joining the AICPA as an Exam Candidate Affiliate Member.

So, what are the basic steps to earning the CPA license?

Determine your eligibility

By visiting the NASBA website, you can learn whether you meet the education requirements needed to take the CPA Exam. Most candidates can take an Exam section with only 120 college credits, but you should verify with your specific jurisdiction. If you live outside the U.S., NASBA’s International Evaluation Services can help you determine your eligibility.

Submit your application

Once you’ve determined your eligibility, it’s time to apply. Complete the application through NASBA’s CPA Central portal and submit the required documentation for verification. Once verified, you’ll receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS), which is valid for six months and allows you to schedule your CPA Exam section.

Schedule your CPA Exam section

After deciding when you want to take your CPA Exam section, use your NTS to schedule your test day through Prometric. U.S. candidates can test anywhere in the world where the CPA Exam is administered. International candidates may not be able to test at all Prometric locations outside of the U.S. You should check for specific testing locations available to you.

Study for the CPA Exam

Each section of the CPA Exam is a rigorous assessment of the minimum technical knowledge and skills required for initial licensure. You’ll take one section at a time so make sure to use all the resources and tools available to you, including the CPA Exam Blueprints and the CPA Exam Sample Tests.

Taking the CPA Exam

You’ll have 18 months to pass all four CPA Exam sections with a minimum score of 75. The CPA Exam is administered continuously throughout the year, so this gives you the flexibility to test when it’s most convenient for you. Check our score release dates to find out when you can expect to receive your score after testing. Once you’ve passed all four sections, verify whether your jurisdiction requires a separate Ethics examination before applying for your license.

Apply for your license

When applying for your license, verify that you have the required college credit hours. Generally, you must have 150 with a concentration in accounting. This includes 30 hours in accounting subjects and 24 hours in business administration subjects. A minimum of 15 hours must be at the upper-division or graduate level.

As for experience, all candidates for licensure must have a minimum of one year of experience (approximately 2,000 hours) verified by a licensed CPA. Your experience should include work in accounting, attestation, auditing, or taxation. It’s important to check the specific experience requirements with your jurisdiction.

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