Understanding The CPA Licensure Requirements

Posted on: 28 April 2023


When you are considering obtaining your CPA license, you may have found that you not only have to pass the CPA exam, but you also have to apply for licensure. The laws governing eligibility for the exam and the licensure process vary by state. Understanding some of the guidelines that can change might help you decide which state you want to pursue your licensing in. Here's a look at some of the things that you need to understand. 

Residency Requirements

One of the eligibility requirements to obtain a CPA license is a residency requirement. In some states, you must be a legal resident of the state before you can apply to the state board for CPA licensure. Some states waive this residency requirement or permit you to work across state lines, but it is important that you thoroughly understand the guidelines of what is permissible.

Educational Guidelines

Although you can take the CPA exam after completing a bachelor's degree, some states may require more credit hours for you to obtain your license. Review your state's educational requirements, including the mandates about the educational institutions. Some credits may not be eligible if the institution does not hold proper accreditation. 

Work Experience

Another requirement for CPA licensure is work experience. The actual requirement varies by state, but most look for at least one year of public accounting work. You may still qualify if you work in a government accounting role, but your state may require that you hold the job longer. Explore your employment requirements, including the timeframe during which that work must be completed, so that you can be sure that you meet the minimums.

Ethics Testing

Because of the sensitive nature of a CPA's job, many states require CPA candidates to complete an ethics exam and review as part of the licensure process. If your state requires an ethics exam, you may have to take that before you can submit your license application.

Personal Character Testimony

In many states, references to your personal character may be a mandatory part of your application as well. You might have to ask several people you have worked with in the past, whether through employment or education, to provide testimony about your character to the licensing board.

Understanding your state's requirements is the first step toward completing your CPA licensing path. The more you know before you get started, the easier the process becomes.