Working as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) requires that the individual not only earn a CPA license but also maintain a CPA license. This involves completing specific training annualy and following certain guidelines set by the state in which the CPA resides. In addition to providing information on how to maintain a CPA license, this article also provides an overview of how to earn the CPA license as well as state-based information for CPAs.
How To Earn the CPA License
Becoming a CPA requires a lot of education and training. A bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is required to work as an auditor or accountant. Accountants who will be filing reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission must obtain and maintain a CPA license, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Each state’s Board of Accountancy issues licenses to individuals who satisfy the requirements.
Although a bachelor’s degree is required for accountants and auditors, CPAs are required in most states to complete at least 150 hours of college coursework before they can become licensed. This amount is 30 more hours than the student would earn with the baccalaureate degree, so some graduate courses are usually completed. All the states require CPAs pass the Uniform CPA Examination. Although it’s a four-part test, all four parts do not have to be passed at once but must be completed within 18 months of the first one.
How to Maintain the CPA License
As important as it is to earn a CPA license, it’s equally important that the individual maintain a CPA license. To maintain a CPA license, the CPA must satisfy the requirements set by his or her State Board of Accountancy. It’s important to understand that each state varies in its requirements. A CPA working in one state will have to satisfy the requirements from that state.
If the CPA moves, the requirements to maintain a CPA license might be different. Because the rules and regulations are constantly changing, it’s important that the CPA monitor his or her state’s requirements. One of the main requirements to maintain a CPA license is completing continuing professional education (CPE) courses.
State Requirements Important
As stated above, it’s important to be aware of what each state requires to maintain a CPA license. For instance, Alabama requires 40 hours of CPE, while Florida requires 80 hours, but Wisconsin doesn’t require any. Each state has its own specific requirements regarding the following.
- Annual renewal date
- CPE reporting period
- Number of CPE hours required
- Specific CPE courses required
- Hours of specific courses allowed or required
Continuing Education Course
Although there are various CPE courses, CPAs wishing to maintain a CPA license must not just complete the number of hours but must complete certain courses to make up the total required hours. For example, an Alabama CPA must not just complete 40 hours of CPE hours, but must make sure at least eight hours are in Accounting and Auditing.
This CPA must also complete eight hours of behavioral courses, and no more than 25 percent of the CPE can be published materials. The importance of knowing each state’s requirements, which can be found at the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, can’t be stressed enough.
Working as a CPA is a challenging and rewarding career for anyone interested in working with numbers. The BLS reports that accountants and auditors can expect a job growth of 10 percent between 2016 and 2026. Earning the CPA certification typically results in more career opportunities and higher wages, which is one of several reasons why it’s vital for the CPA to maintain a CPA license.
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