The first step involved in becoming a U.S Certified Public Accountant is to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. The educational eligibility criterion for this exam is the at the minimum a baccalaureate degree and minimum 150 semester hours of college credit earned as prescribed by Board Rules with accountancy as a subject and successful completion of 24 hours of specific upper level accountancy and also business as a subject and successful completion of 24 hours of business courses.
That is the reason why people call this as the 150 hour rule as an applicant has got five years of study under his belt.
This exam is prepared and conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). It is administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).
The ‘One hundred fifty hour rule’ has been implemented by most of the states. However, there are few exceptions like California. The Colorado State Board allows candidates from eligible states who are Chartered Certified Accountants, as also Chartered Accountants to appear for the Uniform CPA Exam as a candidate from Colorado.
If you are an overseas candidate and want to be a CPA, you will have to sit for the International Qualification Examination as an alternative to the Uniform CPA Exam.
Some states of U.S follow the Two-tier system in which a candidate, after clearing the CPA exam, works as a CPA for a stipulated time. The candidate gets the degree, but for the license has to work and gather experience. Once the candidate has worked for the required tenure, only then he is issued the license. However, a majority of the states follow the one-tier system in which the degree along with the license is issued only when the exam is cleared and the experience achieved.
The states of Alabama, Illinois, Montana, and Nebraska follow the two-tier system. On the other hand, the states of Washington and South Dakota follow the one-tier system. Illinois plans to start following the one-tier system by 2010.
Besides clearing the CPA exam, many states are increasingly asking candidates to clear a special exam on ethics. Majority of these states accept the AICPA self-study Professional Ethics for CPAs. However, in states such as California, has set their own Ethics course as part of the Certified Public Accountancy Exam (CPE) course.
So now you will have a clearer picture of how to become a CPA. First make sure that you are eligible and then take the CPA exam. If you clear it, you either earn yourself your dream CPA degree and license together after you achieve the requisite work experience as a CPA (in one-tier states) or earn yourself your dream CPA degree in the first stage and then go through the work experience part and then earn for yourself the license as a CPA (in two-tier states).
So, through this article you have become aware of some aspects related to the CPA Exam. For more information, you can search on the Internet.