Resources to help you become a Certified Public Accountant.

The CPA designation distinguishes licensed accounting professionals committed to protecting the public interest.


What it means to be a CPA

As a Certified Public Accountant, you are considered a trusted financial advisor who helps individuals, businesses, and other organizations plan and reach their financial goals. All CPAs are accountants, but not all accountants are CPAs. Find the information and resources you need to become obtain a CPA designation below.

Process of Becoming a CPA

To obtain licensure, there are 3 categories of requirements.

Legislative & Regulatory Involvement


  • Complete your higher education by graduating from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university
  • Additional or unique education requirements for licensure are determined by state

Exam or Uniform CPA Examination

  • Computer-based format consisting of 4 sections:
    • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
    • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
    • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
    • Regulation (REG)
  • Passing score is 75 on a 0-99 scale
  • Eligibility to sit for exam depends on state requirements


  • Many states requires candidates (applicant for CPA license) to have 1 - 2years experience under a CPA
  • Additional requirements vary by individual candidate:
    • Education – e.g., Graduate degree vs. 150 hours of undergraduate
    • Employer(s) – e.g., Public accounting firm vs. industry
    • Type of work – e.g., Tax professional vs. auditor

State requirements to become a licensed CPA

Licenses gives the right to practice public accounting. Each state has its own set of requirements for licensure.

Gaining your license

  • Each state has certain requirements based on citizenship, residency, social security, an participation in internal programs
  • Some state require ethics exam in order to officially become a CPA.
  • Must comply with rules of professional conduct

Maintaining your license

  • Continuing Professional Education (CPE)
    • Typically 40 hours per year are required to maintain your license
    • Types (e.g., computer-based vs. group/classroom learning)
  • CPE varies by jurisdiction
    • May need ethics training and compliance
    • Subjects vary depending to type of license and area of employment
  • Renewal every period
Legislative & Regulatory Involvement

Taking the CPA Exam

To become a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you must pass the Uniform CPA Exam.

Legislative & Regulatory Involvement

Apply for the exam

  • Apply directly with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) or your state or jurisdiction’s board of accountancy to determine if you are eligible to take the exam.

Prepare for the exam

  • On average, test-takers study a total of 450 hours to get ready for the entire exam, which consists of 4 sections.
    • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
    • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
    • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
    • Regulation (REG)
  • Passing score is 75 on a 0-99 scale.

Taking the exam

  • You’ll have 18 months to pass all four CPA Exam sections
  • The CPA Exam is administered continuously throughout the year, giving you flexibility
  • Once you’ve passed all four sections, verify whether your jurisdiction requires a separate Ethics examination before applying for your license.