Accounting And Payroll

What Are The Requirements For The CPA Exam?

One of the most important steps towards becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is represented by the passing of the Uniform CPA Examination. 

The exam is quite extensive and requires in-depth knowledge in various fields of work such as business, finances, reporting, auditing, and more. As such, proper preparation is more than necessary for anyone hoping to be a CPA. 

Still, before you can even entertain the idea of taking the exam, every candidate must check the requirements in order to establish his/her eligibility. After all, no one wants to submit their application and have it rejected!

As such, if you plan on taking the CPA exam any time soon, use this quick guide to make sure you are eligible.

Top 5 Eligibility Requirements

Sadly, there is no clear set of rules for the entire country as each state is free to establish its own list of requirements. 

This means that candidates must check with their state board of accountancy to get access to an accurate list. There’s also the option of searching online to get a feel for the CPA exam sections and most asked questions.

Still, there are a few common eligibility consistencies across the board. In most cases, if you check these boxes, there shouldn’t be any issues with taking the exam in any of the states. However, there may be additional requirements, so it’s best to check. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are the five main requirements for the CPA exam:

#1: Citizenship

Verdict:  Not mandatory in most states

In most states (except Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana) candidates for the CPA exam don’t have to be US citizens. Still, they must be able to take the exam in English.

However, since the CPA designation is US-based there are only a few international candidates interested in taking the exam. As such, most people don’t tend to worry too much about this requirement. 

Overall, you should register and apply for the exam and license in the same state you plan to develop your practice. 

#2: A Valid Social Security ID

Verdict: Required by most states 

While the SS card is not considered an ID card, it is used by the CPA examiners for identification purposes. This somewhat clashes with the first requirement, since international candidates will rarely have a Social Security number. 

Also, since most candidates are already citizens, this is a no-brainer – unless you’re an international candidate. Even so, states like Illinois, Montana, New York, South Dakota, and Wisconsin don’t require SS ID so you can take the exam there. 

#3: Age Requirements

Verdict: Only legally adult candidates are accepted

All the licensing jurisdictions in the US require that the candidates must be 18-years of age. This is non-negotiable, so if you’re a minor jumping at the idea of becoming a CPA, you’ll have to wait a bit. 

#4: Education Requirements

Verdict: Degree and college credit hours

Almost all states agree that an eligible candidate must have completed either a general bachelor’s degree or have 120 college credit hours. Even more, some states go further and require a  degree in accounting or a related field (such as finance). 

Another requirement consists of a minimum level of accounting and business-related coursework. These courses should include intermediate and advanced financial accounting, business law, cost accounting, finance, management, and taxation.

Lastly, in all states, it is mandatory that the education is delivered via an accredited and recognized institution. This may be problematic for international students who took their classes in other countries. 

#5: Work Experience

Verdict: Not required

When you’re taking the exam, there is no requirement for work experience. If everything goes well, there will be plenty of time to acquire real-work experience, which will come in handy when you’ll apply for the license. 

Wrap Up

In short, the standard CPA candidate (that is also eligible) is a US citizen (not mandatory), with a valid SS ID, over 18-year-old, and with a bachelor’s degree or 120 college credit hours. For more details, make sure to contact your state board of accountancy. 

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