Licensure checklist

The basic things you need before they’ll crown you CPA

So you passed the CPA Exam. What now? All that stands between you and your career as a practicing CPA is a state-issued license. If that sounds like you just scaled a mountain only to find another mountain behind it, don’t worry – you’re over the hump. In fact, for aspiring CPAs in most states, the license mainly serves as an official checklist for accomplishments and qualifications you’ve already satisfied – starting with passing the CPA Examination. In addition to passing the exam, here are some other considerations to be aware of.

The bare minimum: Bachelor’s degree

Most states require at least a bachelor’s degree to be eligible for becoming a CPA.

Experience requirements

Most states require at least two years of experience in public accounting before allowing you to practice as a CPA. Many also accept accounting experience in other areas such as industry or government, but that usually means they require that you practice for more years.

One-tier or two-tier?

Some states require that you pass the CPA Exam and simply meet the experience requirements to obtain your certificate and license at the same time. Those are called “one-tier” states. In two-tier states, you receive a certificate once you pass the exam, and the license comes separately, once you fulfill the experience requirements. That’s as deep as we’ll go here – the best idea is to contact your state board to understand exactly what you need.

The 150-hour requirement

Many states now require aspiring CPAs to have 150 semester hours of education to receive certification. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a master’s degree, although that certainly helps. You can also meet the requirement at the undergraduate level, or earn your bachelor’s degree and take a few courses at the graduate level. 

Check with your state

Remember, passing the CPA Exam only means that you have passed a major milestone on the way to being licensed. From there, it’s between you and the state in which you want to practice – and every state is different. Your best bet is to check with them directly.

Now that you're well on your way to CPA, see what your life could look like once you receive your license.

All Articles