The Steps to Become a CPA

The title of a certified public accountant, or CPA, is one that many view as having a great deal of competence, experience, and being a trusted business advisor. This is due to the fact that becoming a licensed CPA requires the individual to possess these characteristics. There are 3 essential steps to become a licensed CPA in the state of Florida; these steps include:

  1. Education
  2. Pass the Uniform CPA Exam
  3. Experience

Education

The first step in obtaining a CPA license is education.  Licensure in Florida calls for a bachelor degree with a minimum of 150 semester hours.  Of the 150 semester hours, 36 hours of upper division accounting courses are required. These courses include classes in taxation, auditing, finance, cost/managerial accounting, and accounting information systems.  Also, 39 hours of general business courses are included within the 150 hour requirement; this includes 6 hours of business law.  Bachelor’s programs are typically only 120 semester hours; thus many pursue a Master of Science in Accounting or a Master in Business Administration in order to reach the 150 minimum, though it is not mandatory.  While 150 credit hours are required for licensure, only 120 are required to sit for the next step in becoming a CPA, the Uniform CPA Exam.

Uniform CPA Exam

After fulfilling the minimum educational requirements the next step in becoming a licensed CPA is taking the Uniform CPA Exam.   The exam consists of four parts: (1) Auditing & Attestation, (2) Financial Accounting & Reporting, (3) Regulation, and (4) Business Environment & Concepts.  The entire exam is a total of 14 hours.  All four sections of the exam must be passed within a rolling 18 month window.  Upon notification of passing the first section, the 18 month window begins.  These exams are designed to test technical proficiency in accounting, auditing, and tax concepts.  Beginning in April of 2017, a shift to increase emphasis on higher-order analysis and evaluation skills is being implemented.  This is to better assess the knowledge and skills that a newly licensed CPA will need on the job.

Experience

After all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam have been passed, the next step in becoming a licensed CPA is to gain necessary experience.    To obtain a Florida CPA license, one year of work experience is required.  This experience must involve the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory,  or consulting and be either 20 hours a week over a maximum of 104 weeks or 40 hours a week over a maximum 52 weeks.  Work experience must be verified by a licensed CPA or a chartered accountant recognized by the International Qualifications Appraisal Board.

Obtain & Maintain License

Once these three steps have been completed, one may now apply for a Florida state CPA license.  An application package will be automatically sent once passing scores for the Uniform CPA Exam have been posted.  The package must be returned along with the verification of work experience form, college transcripts, and a $50 fee payment.  This must be returned within three years of passing the CPA exam.  Licensed CPAs must renew their licenses every two years and comply with continuing professional education (CPE) requirements. The CPE requirements include 80 credits every two years, with 20 hours in accounting and auditing and four hours of ethics courses.  A $105.00 license renewal fee is also required every two years.

Moore, Ellrich & Neal, P.A.

CPAs embody someone with great devotion to our profession, education, and success.  Among the partners and staff of Moore, Ellrich & Neal, P.A. are 12 Certified Public Accountants licensed in the state of Florida.  Along with earning CPA licensure, many of these individuals have other renowned titles, such as Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), and Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA).  Other members of our staff that are not licensed CPAs are in the process of becoming one.  While working full time and gaining first-hand knowledge and experience, these members of our staff are also taking upper level accounting courses and studying for the Uniform CPA exam. CPA licensure does not only show a determination to achieve one’s personal objectives, but also shows our partners’ and staff’s desire to provide the most reliable and accredited accounting services.  The CPAs and aspiring CPAs at Moore, Ellrich & Neal, P.A. display a dedication to our profession and more importantly, to our clients.

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