Do I Qualify For The CPA Exam?

So you’ve decided to take the CPA exam. The good thing is, you haven’t started studying. The bad thing is, you haven’t started studying.

Qualify for the CPA exam

The CPA exam is hard and, in the same fashion, sorting through the CPA exam qualification standards is tricky. It’s difficult to know if you qualify for the CPA exam, but there are resources out there to help you determine if you can apply for the CPA exam, or if you still need to satisfy the requirements.

State By State Requirements

The nice thing about the CPA exam is that it’s uniform. That means no matter where you take the exam or which jurisdiction you’re taking it for, the exam is exactly the same. Yay!

Unfortunately, both the requirements to take the exam and the requirements to become a CPA are different in each state. Many states require a Bachelor’s degree and at least 150 semester hours to sit for the exam, with a certain amount of those hours being accounting and business related. A candidate must also meet state residency requirements and age requirements.

Keep in mind that all states and all jurisdictions, except the U.S. Virgin Islands, require 150 hours to become a licensed CPA.

How To Check If You Qualify For The CPA Exam

The best way to see if you’re qualified to take the CPA exam is to check your State Board of Accountancy’s website. Simply Google “(your state) board of accountancy”.

For example, I searched “California state board of accountancy” to find out California’s requirements. On their home page, I navigated to “Applicants” and found their Uniform CPA Handbook which outlines the requirements to sit for the CPA exam.

Alternatively, you can search “qualifications to take the CPA exam in (your state)”. You’ll find several sites that list the requirements. I would double check with your state board of accountancy though, just to make sure the requirements listed on other sites are correct.

What To Do If You’re Missing Requirements

The educational requirements are typically where most people fall short. And understandably, a Bachelor’s degree is only 120 hours which is 30 hours less than the 150 required to take the exam in some states. It’s also 30 hours less than the 150-hour requirement to become a CPA. So what’s a future CPA to do?

If you graduated at exactly 120 hours, I would recommend getting your Master’s Degree in Accounting. A Master’s in Accounting takes one year (two semesters) and will get you the extra 30 hours you need. Plus, you may learn about subjects that are going to be on the CPA exam.

If you’re pretty close to the 150, I recommend taking a random online class to push you over the edge. Make sure you have the required hours in accounting and business (for example, in California you are required to have 24 semester hours in accounting subjects and 24 semester hours of business-related subjects).

If you don’t, take accounting or business classes until the requirement is fulfilled. If you do, feel free to take random classes that will get you to 150. I took Introduction to Norwegian to get my 150 hours. Language classes are typically good because they are 4 hour classes as opposed to the usual 3.

Once you satisfy all your requirements, it’s time to apply for the exam. Woo! Good luck my CPA friends!

 

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