Why should you become a Certified Public Accountant? All CPAs are accountants but not all accountants are CPAs. Earning a CPA license sets you apart from traditional accountants and demonstrates a commitment to the profession. Obtaining the CPA designation often highlights potential candidates for leadership and management positions. CPAs are in more demand than ever before – and that doesn't seem to be changing any time soon.
What is required to become a Certified Public Accountant? CPAs are accountants who have earned at least a bachelor's degree from a university that has an accredited accounting curriculum, and who have also passed the rigorous CPA examination that testifies to their knowledge of generally accepted accounting and auditing principles and standards.
The Uniform CPA Exam, administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is a prerequisite for earning the CPA certificate in Florida, as well as throughout the rest of the United States and its territories.
Ongoing transformation in the business world and advancements in technology have affected the accounting profession, changing the required knowledge, skills and professional responsibilities of newly licensed certified public accountants (CPAs). These professionals are required to perform more advanced tasks and contribute to increasingly complex projects earlier in their accounting careers. The results of in-depth research, which included a call for a greater assessment of higher-order cognitive skills, drove changes to the design of the newest version of the CPA Exam, launching on April 1, 2017.
- For questions related to the content of the Exam, please visit the AICPA website.
- For questions related to the administration of the Exam, please visit the NASBA website.
- For a video overview of the new exam structure, please click here.
Here are some helpful tips to navigate the process of sitting for the exam and obtaining licensure:
Q: Can someone evaluate my transcript to determine if all of my courses are acceptable?
A: No, the FICPA does not evaluate transcripts and the Florida Board of Accountancy will only evaluate transcripts during official application processing. If an applicant has questions concerning courses/classes, they should contact the Accounting Division of their college/university.
Q: What is the difference between taking the CPA exam and licensure?
A: These two concepts are often confused. Taking the exam is the first step. Under the new law, you will be qualified to take the exam after completing 120 hours. In order to be licensed, and thus, to be called a CPA, you must pass all four sections of the CPA exam, complete an additional 30 hours of coursework and have one year of work experience under the supervision of a CPA. The last step is to make a separate application to the BOA for licensure and pass the BOA's laws and rules exam.
Q: Must I complete my baccalaureate degree prior to taking the exam?
A: No. You may take the exam prior to completing your degree. However, you must complete your baccalaureate degree prior to licensure. In fact, if you are on financial aid, you may benefit from delaying your degree completion so that you remain eligible for aid. Check with your financial aid advisor.
Q: How many accounting and business hours will be required in the 120 hours needed to take the exam?
A: The answer depends upon the rules promulgated by the BOA. However, it is likely that you may not have to complete all 36 accounting hours and 39 hours of business core classes prior to taking the exam.
Q: Is it possible to successfully pass a section of the CPA exam without all the relevant coursework if I complete a CPA review program?
A: Yes, but it is not wise. It would be better to wait until completing the relevant coursework before taking each section. This will make it much easier to pass. Remember that a CPA review program is only a review. It not designed to be the place to first learn large amounts of material that should have been covered in coursework.
Q: Should I take sections of the exam while still in school?
A: Certainly! However, preparing for the CPA exam takes time, and taking the exam is exhausting. Plan your workload realistically.
Q: How long do I have to complete all sections of the exam?
A: Florida law requires an 18-month “rolling window” in which to complete all sections of the exam once you pass a section of the exam. You will lose credit for any section that you passed more than 18 months before. Carefully plan for this window, and try to take all sections of the exam within a reasonable amount of time. We recommend taking all sections within one year, allowing yourself time to retake any section(s) that you did not pass on the first try, and avoiding the loss of credit for sections you successfully passed.
Q: Assume I pass all four sections of the exam but have not yet completed all my 150 hours. I'm tired of school! Could I take a break from school?
A: Yes. However, why would you want to delay your licensure? Obtaining the CPA license is a major professional accomplishment that will increase your marketability and enable you to earn more money! Don't put it off, no matter how tired you are of school. You don't want to be one of the students who “just took a break from school” but never returned. Complete your 150 hours while school is a normal part of your life, and before life catches up with you. You will be glad you did!
Q: Should I complete my one year of work experience prior to taking the exam? Maybe the experience will help me pass.
A: While you may complete your experience prior to taking the exam, we do not recommend delaying your coursework to do so. The CPA exam is based on the material you have studied in your coursework. It is unlikely that actual work experience will help you to pass more quickly or with a higher score.
Q: I have completed the required hours of accounting and general business subjects. I still need some additional hours. May I take any courses that I would like?
A: Yes, as long as those hours are from an accredited college or university, not a vocational program, and do not duplicate courses you have already earned.
CPA Exam Candidate Bulletin
The Uniform CPA Examination Alert And Recent Changes To The CPA Exam
Apply for the CPA Exam
Schedule your CPA Exam
Study And Prepare For The CPA Exam: CBT-e tutorial