Upcoming Changes Affect Path to Becoming a Certified Public Accountant in California

March 23, 2012 by  Filed under: Taxes 

Individuals exploring a CPA career in California will soon follow the same path as most other states. Changes take place effective January 1, 2014. The new requirements only impact mandated education. Individuals already have to pass the certified public accountant examination and that standard will continue.

Until the end of 2013, CPA candidates may still enter the profession by providing the California Board of Accountancy with evidence of a bachelor’s degree that entailed 24 semester hours of accounting courses and 24 additional hours of any business-related subjects. An ethics course is also required when becoming a certified public accountant.

Starting in 2014, a total of 150 semester hours is required. The specific hours covering accounting and business – plus the ethics course – remain unchanged. In addition, of course, every CPA must have earned a bachelor’s degree. Passing CPA exams is also a necessity that every certified public accountant in California has in common with CPAs in other states.

CPA candidates typically complete their education first and then begin meeting the other requirements. Until 2014, the option to have less than 150 semester hours means that two years of work experience supervised by a CPA with an active license is mandatory. When a CPA candidate has 150 semester hours – the only licensing avenue starting in 2014 – just one year of supervised general accounting experience is required.

During the work experience phase, a CPA examination course is normally undertaken to prepare for passing the Uniform CPA Exam. Registration for this test is initiated when a CPA candidate submits to the state accountancy board a complete application. Official licensing occurs following the demonstration of both knowledge with a passing score on the CPA exam and competency from supervised work history.

A majority of other states already have the 150-semester hour educational requirement. Hence, a California CPA who follows this licensing pathway and moves to practice in another state is unlikely to encounter difficulty in transferring official state recognition.

The route to a license in public accounting continues to demand CPA exam study. But every CPA candidate must also investigate additional state requirements. Accounting departments at educational institutions are eager to help prospective CPAs understand and meet the course requirements within their state. As California now offers two education standards, each CPA candidate in that state should remember the upcoming change to a single pathway for licensure.

The rewards of completing all CPA licensing requirements are substantial. Starting salaries for accounting majors are usually more than $45,000 and most have jobs arranged before they graduate.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure

Pursuant to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service Circular 230, we inform you that, to the extent any advice relating to a Federal tax issue is contained in this communication, including in any attachments, it was not written or intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (a) avoiding any tax related penalties that may be imposed on you or any other person under the Internal Revenue Code, or (b) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any transaction or matter addressed in this communication.

Fast Forward Academy is a leading publisher of education for certified public accountant examination and tax professionals. Access to free questions for the becoming a certified public accountant is available on their website.

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