steps to becoming a cpa

Becoming a CPA is a multi-step process. Below are the basic steps for the CPA exam and licensing process and how ALL can assist you.

Step 1: Determine where you plan to take the exam and complete the requirements for your selected state.

First, determine where you plan to sit for the CPA exam and then make sure you obtain the appropriate education and other requirements needed to qualify in that state. While this may sound pretty simple, the tricky part is that the education requirements to sit for the CPA exam are different for every state. For example, some states require 120 total semester hours to qualify; where others require 150 total hours. There are also more narrow educational requirements specific to each state such as 33 semester hours in accounting and 36 semester hours in business. A different state might require 33 semester hours in accounting and have no minimum semester hours for business. There are also other requirements that states enforce regarding age, residency, etc. You should be sure to review requirements and criteria for states you are considering for application.

If you're already pretty far along in your education, you can determine which state's CPA exam education and other requirements most closely match your personal profile and apply for the exam in that state. Each state board of accountancy provides this information on their individual websites. And, you may also find the exam requirements for most states at

What would really help you in this process is to determine, ahead of time, which state you plan to become licensed as a CPA. Finding out the license requirements early can help ensure a smooth path to becoming a CPA. But, we realize that’s not always an option. So, you should know that where you take the exam is not dependant on where you intend to practice. CPA exam test scores can be transferred to any state for the purpose of getting a CPA license.
Step 2: Now you are ready to sit for the CPA exam.

There are several suggested steps to take before sitting for the CPA exam. NASBA, AICPA and Prometric, work together to provide candidates with a repository of information that should assist you in this process. For more information about taking the CPA exam, please visit or call 1-800-CPA-Exam (272-3926).
Step 3: Determine where you plan to obtain your CPA license.

After successfully passing the CPA exam, the next step is to complete the other requirements for obtaining a CPA license in the state in which you plan to ultimately practice as a CPA. Just like requirements for the CPA exam, requirements (like education and work experience) for a CPA license vary from state to state.

For example, many states require at least one year of public accounting work experience to qualify for a CPA license; while others accept different types of work experience in place of public accounting experience (such as teaching, self-employment and part-time employment). To add to the complexity, some states have more specific requirements such as a specified amount of auditing work experience.

If you reside and work in the United States, then you are required to be licensed in the state where you live and practice. Most states now offer Mobility privileges that allow CPAs to service clients across state borders, but those laws can take some delicate navigation as well.

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