What is a CPA?
CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant and it is the title of a qualified professional accountant in the United States. In order for a professional to use the designation "CPA", they must be certified in their state of residence. Therefore, if you are certified in one state and move to another state, you will be restricted from using your CPA designation until you have received a license or certificate in your new state of residence.
Becoming a CPA
In order to become a licensed CPA, you must first be declared eligible to sit for the CPA examination. CPA licenses are issued at the state or jurisdictional level. Therefore, depending on your state of residence, the requirements to become a CPA may differ. Each state has their own requirements for a professional to sit for the CPA exam, ranging from age limitations to education requirements. A guide to the requirements to become a CPA for each individual state is provided below.
An Emphasis 150 Semester Hours of Education
Why is this Necessary for Aspiring CPAs?
A traditional 4-year graduate education program is no longer sufficient to obtain the required knowledge necessary to become a CPA. The reasoning behind this varies, but the main objectives are as follows:
- An enhanced knowledge base is required for CPAs due to new laws and regulations
- The complexity of business methods has greatly increased
- Staffing needs are changing rapidly
How can you meet this Educational Requirement?
There are several methods to achieve this requirement of 150 educational hours. First and foremost, aspiring CPAs can enroll in a number of Bachelor and Master programs in Accounting from colleges and universities across the country. Though there are Master programs available, it is not necessary to obtain a Master degree to become a CPA. This 150 semester hour requirement can be met at an undergraduate level or by obtaining a Bachelor degree and taking a few graduate level courses.
The following options are also available to aid aspiring CPAs in fulfilling their 150 hour requirement:
- Undergraduate accounting degree + Master's degree at same or different school
- Undergraduate degree in another discipline + Master's in accounting or MBA in accounting
- Integrated five-year professional accounting program leading to Master's degree in accounting
- Graduate-level programs in Accounting
State Guide to Becoming a CPA
|Education||Age||Citizenship||150 Semester Hours|
|New Hampshire||Bachelor's degree||None||No||No|
|New Jersey||Bachelor's degree||18||No||No|
|New Mexico||Bachelor's degree||18||No||No|
|North Carolina||Bachelor's degree||18||Yes||No|
|North Dakota||Bachelor's degree||None||No||Yes|
|Rhode Island||Bachelor's degree||None||No*||No|
|South Dakota||Bachelor's degree||None||No||Yes|
|Washington D.C.||Bachelor's degree||18||No||No|
|West Virginia||Bachelor's degree||None||No||No|
* US Citizenship is not required, but aspiring CPAs must be a resident, employee, or have an office in the US
** The 150 semester hour requirement will be effective in Colorado in July 2015