You can think of earning your CPA license as a two-step process. One component is studying and passing the exam. You also must meet the requirements of your State Board of Accountancy. While passing the exams can seem like the bigger hurdle, meeting the eligibility requirements of your state can actually take much longer.
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) helps each State Board operate more efficiently. These boards have specific requirements that CPA candidates must meet. You can find your state’s requirements on the This Way To CPA website.
Applying through your State Board
To take the CPA exam, you start by submitting an application to your State Board. Each state has slightly different requirements, but all states have specific rules on about your education. Generally, you must complete 150 hours of college credit toward a B.A. degree. Your 150 hours must include a specific number of accounting and business classes. So, you’ll need to send your college transcripts to your State Board.
Meeting the education requirements
Now, meeting the education requirements can be tricky. If you decide to major in accounting early in your undergraduate career, the path is pretty clear. You can work with an advisor and ensure that you take the specific classes you need and the number of hours required.
The education component is more difficult if you don’t major in accounting right off the bat. I had an undergraduate business degree and about 128 hours of credit. To take the CPA exam, I went back to school and took about 24 additional hours of accounting coursework.
If you’re interested in taking the CPA exam, make sure that you plan to take the right coursework for your state.
Scheduling the exam
When your State Board approves your application, they will notify NASBA. NASBA then sends you a Notice To Schedule. You can use that notice to schedule your exam. Check out the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) website to find out more about that process. Exams are scheduled and administered by Prometric. The AICPA site explains how to select an exam time and a location through Prometric.
Another important role that connects NASBA to the CPAs is continuing education. Each State Board has specific requirements for annual continuing education. NASBA helps facilitate this process by setting national standards for education courses. Those standards cover the course content, delivery methods and any review questions the CPA must answer to get credit.
You can find great continuing education online that can help your career. If you work for a CPA firm, they may provide interesting speakers and other opportunities to improve your skills. Try to find courses that relate to your industry and your accounting role. Since you’re required to take these courses, find content that can help you advance your career.
Every CPA candidate should understand the role that NASBA plays in the CPA exam process.
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