A Certified Public Accountant has to gain a fair amount of education to become certified. We are going to look at the process they must follow in more detail today. When looking for a CPA you should be able to inquire about the education and verify that they have the extensive training necessary to complete your tax preparations and assist in financial planning or bookkeeping.
For starters the requirements vary by state. Most states require than the CPAs complete at least 150 semester hours of study to be eligible for licensing. A traditional bachelors degree program only requires 120 hours. To earn the minimum 150 credit hours required schools often offer options like a combined five year bachelor’s and master’s degree program in accounting. Coursework covers a multitude of topics starting with basic accounting fundamentals and advancing to cover complex topics like cost accounting.
Then after completing the needed credit hours before they qualify for certification state boards typically require accountants to complete a minimum of two years work experience in accounting related fields. Their duties may range from verifying financial documents, basic bookkeeping, tax preparation, implementing financial measures, or honing financial services.
The next step is to take the exams, these exams test participants on accounting aspects like attestation and financial reporting. They can only do this one education and work experience requirements are met. The certification exams come in 4 separate tests developed by the AICPA (The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) and they must successfully complete all four in order to become a certified public accountant. Once beginning the exam process they must pass all 4 within an 18month span.
After that, to maintain their certification the law requires CPAs to earn continued education credits to renew their licenses annually. Those the specifics on continued education vary from state to state. These credits are also often referred to as continuing professional education courses or CPE courses. Additionally they must adhere to a strict code of professional ethics.