Five Steps to Becoming a CPA

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So, you want to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA. Congratulations! Just by making that decision alone you have already taken the first step on your journey towards obtaining those coveted three letters. The process is not an easy one by any means, but there are a number of things that you can do to ensure that this road is as smooth as possible. Becoming a CPA can be broken down into a five-step process:

Step 1: Get your education

To sit for the CPA Exam, you will need a bachelor’s degree, equivalent to 120 credit hours, from a regionally accredited four-year college or university. Additionally, before you can apply for your CPA, you will need to have completed an additional 30 credit hours, for a total of 150 credits. There are number of ways in which you can obtain these credits, and there are also some specific required courses, so it’s important that you are regularly meeting with your academic advisors to ensure that you are on track and taking the correct courses. If you are unsure, check out resources like the Connecticut Society of CPAs Becoming a CPA in Connecticut Guideor the Connecticut’s Department Of Consumer Protection and the State Board of Accountancy website.

Step 2: Take the CPA Exam

After you receive the appropriate bachelor’s degree and academic credits, you must figure out your study plan to prepare for the CPA exam. Unlike other exams, this is not an exam that you can cram for. The entire exam is broken up into four, four-hour sections which include:  Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG).  You have 18 months to pass all four exams before you start to lose previously passed sections. The review courses suggest that you will need anywhere from 300-500 hours of studying for this exam. But don’t panic! Figure out what your learning style is and choose the right review course for you. There are several review courses available including Becker, Surgent, Rogers, Wiley, and Gleam CPA review. Each review course is slightly different, and choosing one will just be a matter of personal preference. Once you’re confident in your review, contact the National Association of State Board’s of Accountancy (NASBA) to get your Notice To Schedule (NTS). From there, contact a prometric testing facility and schedule your first exam section test date! Check out the NASBA website see all of the nitty-gritty details about the exact breakdown and format of the Uniform CPA Exam .

Step 3: Obtain your experience

Connecticut requires its CPA candidates to obtain two years of experience while under the supervision of a CPA who has been in good standing with the Connecticut State Board of Accountancy for at least three years. This can be in the form of internships, co-ops, part-time work, or full-time work. This experience can either be paid or unpaid, however, the key part is that work is supervised and signed-off on by a CPA in good standing.

Step 4: Pass the ethics exam

This step technically does not have to come later in the process, depending on when you want to take it, and that’s the AICPA’s Professional Ethics for CPAs self-study ethics exam. Connecticut requires it’s candidates to complete this take-home ethics exam in order to apply for CPA licensure. It’s nothing to worry about though! While many candidates wait until they have passed all four sections before taking the ethics exam, you can actually take it any point throughout the process, and the exact window it is available to you is approximately 3 years from when you begin the entire examination process.

Step 5: Make it official

After you have finally finished the 4 E’s – Education, Examination Experience, Ethics – it’s time to make it official! The final step is to download all of the correct forms (SBA-11, SBA-12, CPA application), collect your official (sealed) transcripts, and mail it all down to the Department of Consumer Protection/State Board of Accountancy for review and acceptance.

It’s important to note that every individual CPA journey is going to be entirely unique to some degree, which is why it is important to have regular communication with folks like the CTCPA, NASBA, and the State Board of Accountancy if you have any concerns or questions throughout the process. Also, keep in mind that every state is slightly different in their requirements. Therefore, if you plan on working as a licensed CPA outside of Connecticut, you must check with that state’s State Board of Accountancy to ensure you have met their requirements.

That’s it! That’s how you become a CPA in the state of Connecticut in a nutshell.If you have any further questions about the process or what to expect once you receive your CPA, our accounting and finance team would be happy to help. Call 860-925-6000.

Article written by Tyler Losure, an Executive Recruiter with our Accounting and Finance Group. Tyler focuses on direct hire placements across all industries, and he is responsible for representing top professionals at all levels of their accounting and finance careers. Contact Tyler at tylerl@jmorrissey.com

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