Education

How to Become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

A career in accounting opens opportunities for a range of careers, including bookkeeping, auditing, and payroll administration. But what does it mean to become a certified public accountant (CPA), and how do you get there? Read on for more information about the process, and whether UC Online’s Associate of Applied Business in Accounting Technology is a good first step if your goal is to learn how to become a CPA.

What is a CPA? [Certified Public Accountant]

An accountant is an individual that maintains and interprets accounting records. Most professional careers in the accounting field don’t require a CPA license. However, the CPA designation can offer accounting professionals more flexibility and mobility in their careers. A CPA is an accounting professional who has met the state’s licensing requirement to earn the CPA designation. All CPAs are accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs. A CPA license shows that a professional accountant has met the profession’s highest standard of achievement.

Who issues the CPA license?

CPA licenses are issued by a U.S. state or jurisdiction. Most CPAs are only licensed in their state of residence. While the requirements differ from state to state, most states have core requirements, including a certain number of academic credit hours, experience, and passing the uniform CPA examination.

What are the requirements to become a CPA?

The state or jurisdiction determines the requirements to sit for the CPA exam and apply for CPA licensure. For example, the requirements to sit for the uniform CPA examination and apply for licensure in the state of Ohio are the completion of at least 150 semester college credits with an earned baccalaureate degree; 30 semester college credits in accounting courses that cover the areas of financial accounting, cost/managerial accounting, auditing, and taxation; and 24 semester college credits in business courses.

The above requirements only apply to candidates residing in the state of Ohio — check the National Association of State Board Accountancy to view the CPA exam requirements by state.

Will the Associate of Applied Business (AAB) in Accounting Technology program prepare me to take the CPA exam?

Yes, all AAB in Accounting Technology program coursework counts toward the college credit requirement. Students earn 60 semesters of college credits, which includes 15 semester college credits in accounting courses and 15 semester college credits in business courses.

Most states require 150 semester college credits with an earned bachelor’s degree. Therefore, AAB Accounting Technology program graduates will need to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program if they decide to take the CPA exam. A bachelor’s degree program consists of 120 semester college credits. Since most states require 150 semester college credits, most students must complete additional college credits beyond the bachelor’s degree.

Where can I get more information?

You can find more information about becoming a CPA in The Candidate Bulletin: Road Map to CPA Success.

Explore the AAB in Accounting Technology program to see if it’s a good fit for you, and contact an Enrollment Services Advisor at [email protected] if you have any questions.

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