How do I Become a CPA?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2019
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A certified public accountant, or CPA, is a licensed, state-certified accountant. The CPA program requires a combination of education, experience and the successful completion of CPA courses and exams. The CPA designation is an accounting license issued by the state in which the license requested.

The details of these requirements vary according to the state in which you apply for your CPA license, but the main requirements are the same across the country. The minimum education requirement to become a CPA is a four-year undergraduate degree from a recognized, accredited university. The actual number of seminar hours required varies by state, with 150 seminar hours of accounting courses as the standard.

Each state has slightly different rules surrounding the qualifications required to become a CPA and sit for the exam, but the exam is identical is all states. The exam can only be taken within the USA, and is offered several times a year. In order to qualify to take this exam, you must submit the required information to the license board of the state in which you have decided to become qualified in. Requirements vary between states.


Some states require US citizenship or residency to become a CPA, but more than half the states do not. If you have a master's degree from an accredited university, you can waive the experience requirements for the CPA certificate, but must have it for the permit to practice. If you want to add "CPA" to your resume, but do not intend to practice as an accountant, this may be the ideal option.

Only after your application is approved can you register for the exam with a testing center. There are four parts to the Uniform CPA exam; auditing & attestation, financial accounting and reporting, regulation business environment, and concepts. Each of the four sections are graded on a scale and a minimum score of 75 is required to pass.

The CPA testing centers are available up to six days a week in the following months: January, February, April, May, July, August and November. Upon successful completion, you must submit your score report to the appropriate state board to obtain your practice license and become a CPA.

In general, qualified accountants from other countries must submit all the same documentation to the Board of Accountancy for the state in which they want to qualify, and schedule to take the Uniform CPA exam. There are five international accounting designations that have reciprocal agreements in place with the CPA. Accountants with these designations take the four and a half hour International Uniform CPA Qualification exam instead of the Uniform CPA exam to become a CPA.

The program requirements of these institutes have been evaluated and compared with the CPA program and found to be very similar. The organizations are: Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, Instituto Mexicano De Contradores Publicos, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ireland, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia, and the CPA Australia.


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I have received a bachelor degree in Business with Advanced Accounts and Audit as my major from India and also passed the C.A. (Chartered Accountancy) course (post graduate course) from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. Will this cover the 150 hours required to sit for the CPA Exam?

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