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What is the best way to get a CPA certificate?

Hello everyone, looking for some advice on getting a CPA certificate. I've got an accounting background outside the US, with a mix of academic and work experience. Now, I'm at a US company and planning for the CPA exam. Wondering if I should go for specific courses or opt for college. Your thoughts and tips are much appreciated!
P.S. - I'm not in the US, so only remote/online formats work for me.

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Matthew’s Answer

Hi Armine,

As a CPA myself, I would be happy to provide you some advice on the process.

I see that you are listed as being in California, so I am going to tailor my response based on that as each state has slightly different requirements. The first thing that you will need is a bachelor's degree; the country of origin should not matter so long as it is approved by the Board of Accountancy. Additionally, you will need 24 credit hours of Accounting-based coursework and 24 credit hours of Business-relate coursework. The Board of Accountancy should be able to assist in validating these courses. If you do not have the required number of courses, you may take them from an accredited US program (most 4- and 2-year colleges buy YMMV so check with the schools and BoA to verify); it does not need to be a formal program, you can take classes online or in the evening.

If you have the requisite education, you may apply with your state's Board of Accountancy which will verify your eligibility to sit for the CPA exam. This is a nationally-administered exam and consists of 4 sections that must be completed in an 18-month timeframe. Additionally, states may have a work experience requirement as well in order to attain a full CPA license.

Best of luck on your journey!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Matthew! Armine
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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Armine !

My advice is that your first step with this will be to ask the American company that you are an employee of if you need to be certified by the American National State Boards of Accountancy or do they need you to take certification in the country you are in. It will be beneficial to obtain the correct type of certification and be certain before you enroll in any on line course for the certification.

You have also stated that you are not living in the U.S. and are interested in an online certification. If your company requires that you obtain an American certification, I can assure you that there are some that can be found through a search on the internet. If your employer requires that you take the certification for your own country of residence, you can also explore this by searching on line for some on line courses and certification testing information.

I hope that this was a help and I wish you all the best !
Thank you comment icon I appreciate you taking the time to answer this. Armine
Thank you comment icon You are very welcome, Armine ! Michelle M.
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Qian’s Answer

Hello Armine,

Given our similar backgrounds, I believe my journey could be helpful. I earned my bachelor's degree in accounting outside the US and my master's degree within the US. I used my bachelor's degree transcript to apply for the Notice to Schedule (NTS).

1. International Credential Evaluation - As your accounting degree was obtained outside the US, your first step should be an International Credential Evaluation. For instance, I applied for my license in California and found useful information on the California Board about which evaluation institutions they accept. I chose World Education Services (WES) for my evaluation, but remember, some states only accept evaluations from Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE). It's crucial to verify this.

2. Applying for NTS - Once your credential evaluation is complete, you can verify if you meet the test requirements. If you do, you can send your documents to the Board of Accountancy in California (or any other state you're applying in) to receive your NTS. If you're missing any courses, you'll need to complete them to qualify for the test.

3. After receiving your NTS, you can begin preparing for and passing all four tests.

4. Work Experience Verification - As you're currently employed at a US company, your supervisor, who should be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), can help you complete your work experience verification form.

5. License Application - Revisit the transcript requirements to ensure you're eligible to apply for the license. If you're not, you may need to take additional courses. If you are eligible, send all your documents to the Board for license approval.

This has been my experience, and I hope it proves useful to you!
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Armine!

How to Obtain a CPA Certificate

Obtaining a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate in the United States involves meeting specific education and experience requirements, as well as passing the Uniform CPA Examination. Given your accounting background outside the US, pursuing a CPA certificate in the US will require careful planning and consideration of various options. Here are some steps and considerations to help you navigate the process:

1. Understand the CPA Requirements Before embarking on the journey to become a CPA, it’s crucial to understand the specific requirements set by the state board of accountancy in the state where you intend to practice. Each state has its own set of requirements regarding education, work experience, and residency. Since you mentioned that you are not in the US, it’s important to determine which state’s requirements align best with your situation.

2. Evaluate Your Education and Work Experience Given your mix of academic and work experience in accounting, it’s essential to have your credentials evaluated by a reputable credential evaluation service. This evaluation will help determine how your non-US education and experience align with the US CPA requirements. It will also identify any additional coursework or educational requirements you may need to fulfill.

3. Consider CPA Review Courses Preparing for the CPA exam is a significant undertaking, and many candidates find it beneficial to enroll in CPA review courses. These courses are designed to help candidates review and reinforce their knowledge in preparation for the exam. Since you mentioned that remote/online formats are suitable for you, there are several reputable online CPA review course providers that offer comprehensive study materials and support.

4. Fulfill Additional Educational Requirements Based on the evaluation of your credentials, you may need to fulfill additional educational requirements to meet the eligibility criteria for taking the CPA exam. This could involve enrolling in specific accounting courses or completing a formal degree program at an accredited institution.

5. Register for the CPA Exam Once you have met the education and experience requirements, you can proceed to register for the Uniform CPA Examination through the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). The exam is divided into four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).

6. Gain Work Experience In addition to passing the CPA exam, most states require candidates to complete a certain amount of professional work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. The specific work experience requirement varies by state but typically ranges from one to two years.

7. Apply for Licensure After passing the CPA exam and fulfilling the work experience requirement, you can apply for licensure through the state board of accountancy where you intend to practice. The board will review your application and, upon approval, grant you a CPA license.

In summary, obtaining a CPA certificate in the US involves understanding state-specific requirements, evaluating your education and work experience, preparing for and passing the CPA exam, fulfilling work experience requirements, and applying for licensure through the state board of accountancy.

Top 3 Authoritative Sources Used:

American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) - The AICPA is a leading professional organization for certified public accountants in the United States. Their website provides comprehensive information on CPA certification requirements, exam preparation resources, and guidance for international candidates seeking to become CPAs in the US.

National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) - NASBA administers the Uniform CPA Examination and works with state boards of accountancy to ensure that individuals who hold a CPA license meet specific educational and professional standards. Their website offers detailed information on exam registration, candidate resources, and state-specific licensure requirements.

State Board of Accountancy Websites - Each state’s board of accountancy website provides detailed information on their specific requirements for obtaining a CPA license. These websites are valuable sources for understanding state-specific education, examination, and experience requirements.

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Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice! Armine
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