Requirements to sit for the CPA Exam

In order to sit for the CPA exam, you must first decide in which state you wish to take the exam. The state you select should be the state in which you plan to work in. Each state has different requirements related to education, residency, and age. As long as you’re able to meet the requirements (listed below) that are applicable to the state in which you will sit for the exam, you are good to go!


Main types of requirements

While each state is different, there are some common themes that every state considers when determining eligibility.  They are:

  1. Credit hours (typically, though not always, 150)
  2. Additional Education Requirements
  3. Residency
  4. Age


One state, for example…

I took the CPA exam in Pennsylvania, so here are the requirements for that state.  Remember that your state may be different – see this link for different state CPA requirements.

  1. Am I required to have 150 semester hours to sit for the exam? No
  2. Additional Educational Requirements? Bachelors with at least 24 semester hours in accounting
  3. Residency Requirements
    1. Is US citizenship required? No
    2. Must I be employed or living in this state? Yes
  4. Age Requirements
    1. Do I meet the minimum age requirement to sit for the CPA exam in this state? 18


150 hour requirement

Due to the ever changing field of accounting, be it new auditing standards or tax laws, a 4 year undergraduate degree is simply not enough to obtain the knowledge and skill base for a career as a CPA. This has prompted almost half of the US states to adopt “the 150 hour rule”. In order to obtain the desired knowledge and skill set to sit for the CPA, students now need 150 semester hours of education. As seen above, Pennsylvania does not require 150 semester hours to sit for the exam; however, all states, except the US Virgin Islands territories, require 150 semester hours to actually obtain your CPA license. This means that you’re able to take the CPA exam when you meet all the above criterion, but to actually become a CPA after passing the exam, you will need 150 total credit hours.

Residency Requirements

The only states that require you to be a US citizen are Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Hawaii. This may make becoming a CPA slightly more difficult or force you to choose a different state to sit for the exam in. Other states require that you actually “reside” in said state before sitting for the exam. The following states only grant CPA licenses to local residents: Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.


Age Requirements

Although age usually is not an issue, as taking the CPA coincides with finishing university, the minimum age in most states is 18.


Again, each state has different requirements to sit for the CPA exam. It is best to make sure you meet the specific requirements in the state you plan on working, as CPA licenses are not always transferable from state to state. For more information regarding your specific states requirements you can search on the at by selecting your specific jurisdiction.

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