HOW TO BECOME A CPA: Explained in 8 Steps

The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualification is a recognition granted by the State Board of Accountancy in the US to individuals who have attained a certain level of competency in various identified areas.


Step One: Identify Benefits of a US CPA The CPA exam is going to have many changes in 2017. The changes culminate in an exam that is more difficult, with questions that test candidates at higher levels of knowledge. After attaining a CPA, you can be an accounting major in the US. Getting the CPA licence is also very likely to accelerate your career by a mile. Even in India, the CPA qualification can open doors in the US and other parts of the world which use an American-style accounting system. If you are a senior finance professional who is stuck just below the controller level, getting the CPA title helps aid in a promotion to a position you deserve. Whoever you may be, you need a strong reason to start your CPA journey, because the road ahead could be tough and long. Also check out 5 Reasons to Become a CPA. Step Two: Compare CPA with other Accounting Qualifications Is the US CPA license most suitable for your long-term career? Would the alternatives give you the same benefits with less time, money and effort? Alternatives include the CPA equivalent in your local country (such as Chartered Accountants in India), or other global accounting and finance qualifications such as CMA, CFA and CIA. Wondering what the difference between a CPA and Indian CA is? Click here to find out. Similarly, you may consider pursuing CPA or a Masters degree in accounting, or a MBA in related fields. Step Three: Analyse Your Ability. Can You Make It? Do you meet the educational and working experience prerequisites? We cannot predict your ability, but you can refer to statistics and discussions of past takers in various forums to get a realistic expectation. At Concorde-Gleim, we have a passing rate of over 80% with the aid of our unparalled educational materials and faculty members who guide you along. Though Uniform CPA Examinations is conducted by AICPA, one has to register with one of the 55 State Boards of Accountancy/jurisdictions. Eligibility criteria varies between State Boards of jurisdictions. Most of them require a minimum of 120 credits. Those who have completed post-graduation in finance/business/law, and professional certifications in Chartered Accountancy, Cost Accountancy and Company Secretary are eligible to take the CPA exam. This 120 credits can also be fulfilled by passing a 3-year Bachelor degree in accounting securing first class from NAAC ‘A’ University. All non-US educated candidates have to go through the evaluation procedures to determine the eligibility through an approved evaluation agency. To obtain a CPA licence, most states also require you to have 1-2 years of work experience which can be obtained by working under the supervision of a CPA or in the industry. Step Four: Perform Cost Benefit Analysis Becoming a CPA will incur costs, as with any educational pursuit. Review course materials, tuitions (if opted), Evaluation and Exam fees are expenses that typically add up to US $2,500 to $3,500. If you need to travel to other country to take the exam, please budget the additional cost of approx. $1,500. These are your short term costs. For your long- term budgeting, do factor in that you would have to incur $200 on an average per year towards CPE courses and CPA license renewal fee. Step Five: Prepare for the exam Concorde-Gleim CPA Review is the largest class-room training provider of CPA in India. Concorde-Gleim CPA Review offers everything you need to succeed in the CPA exam. 180+ hrs. of 2-way Interactive live classroom training Highly effective study material and tools from Gleim, USA. Largest test bank available on the market (10,000+ MCQs) Comprehensive Books and E-Books Unlimited Practice Exams Longest validity for the material – Access Until You Pass* 100 hrs. of US Professor led videos, unlimited usage. The Flashcards, Exam-focused notes including multiple aids for conceptual understanding and memory Dedicated support & assistance provided on evaluation, exam registration etc. Know more about Concorde-Gleim CPA Review… The Uniform CPA Examination is a 14-hour computer based examination with four sections - Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). Each examination section is composed of four “testlets,” or groups of test questions. One has to pass all 4 parts in a gap of 18 months, however, in any order as there is no standard order to take the exam. The passing grade is 75 in each part. For each of the four sections, three of the testlets will contain the multiple-choice questions (MCQ); for AUD, FAR and REG, the fourth testlet will include the short task-based simulations (TBS); and for BEC, the fourth testlet will include the written communication tasks. The task-based simulations are condensed case studies that test accounting knowledge and skills using real life, work-related situations; the written communication tasks are designed to test writing skills. Auditing and Attestation (AUD) – 4 hours Exam in the following format and description: 3 MCQ testlets consisting of a total of 90 questions; 1 testlet with 7 TBSs This section covers knowledge of auditing procedures, generally accepted auditing standards and other standards related to attest engagements, and the skills needed to apply that knowledge in those engagements. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) – 3 hours Exam in the following format and description: 3 MCQ testlets consisting of a total of 72 questions; 1 testlet with 3 written communication tasks. This section covers knowledge of general business environment and business concepts that candidates need to know in order to understand the underlying business reasons for, and accounting implications of, business transactions, and the skills needed to apply that knowledge. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) – 4 hours Exam in the following format and description: 3 MCQ testlets consisting of a total of 90 questions; 1 testlet with 7 TBSs. This section covers knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles for business enterprises, not-for-profit organizations, and governmental entities, and the skills needed to apply that knowledge. Regulation (REG) – 3 hours Exam in the following format and description: 3 MCQ testlets consisting of a total of 72 questions; 1 testlet with 6 TBSs This section covers knowledge of federal taxation, ethics, professional and legal responsibilities, and business law, and the skills needed to apply that knowledge. Step Six: Register for Exam Parts Apply online through NASBA’s CPA Examination Online Application System for participating jurisdictions or contact the Board of Accountancy directly for non-participating jurisdictions. Once your application has been processed, and you have been determined to be eligible to take one or more sections of the Uniform CPA Examination and you have paid all fees, you will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) from NASBA. One NTS will be sent to you, listing the section(s) of the examination that you are approved to take, enabling you to contact Prometric to begin the scheduling process. Step Seven: Locate the closest test Center and Schedule the exam The NTS you receive would contain the section IDs for you to schedule the exam with Prometric center. The CPA exam is available every day (except on Sundays and Holidays) during the following testing window: January – February April – May July – August October – November Candidates registered in one state are allowed to take the exam in anywhere in the US. Candidates can also take the CPA exams in Japan, Brazil and four Middle Eastern countries as long as they are citizens of adjacent countries. Indians are allowed to take the exam at centres in the USA or the Middle East. Step Eight: Take the ethics exam and apply for License to State Board of Accountancy Most of the State Boards of Accountancy requires you to have a minimum of 150 credits and also take the ethics exam which is self-study, open book exam. After passing the ethics exam, apply for the license with the required documentation.