After the CPA exam: what’s next?

Congratulations! All the hard studying paid off, you’ve completed the most difficult part and you’ve made it. The other side of the CPA is beautiful and full of opportunities. Right? Don’t stop there, because you still have some work to do before you can call yourself a CPA. So for all the people, including you, that are wondering ‘What do I do after I pass the CPA?’, this article is here to help.

Requirements to become a CPA

Before you can start your life as a Certified Public Accountant, you still have some things you’ll need to take care of. Because passing the CPA exam is just one of the requirements you’ll need to complete. Before we talk about the general requirements to become a CPA, we’d like to inform you that each jurisdiction has its own nuances and CPA license requirements. This said, it is always a good idea to check facts with the jurisdiction you wish to be licensed in.

Basic CPA requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • 150 education hours
  • Passing the Uniform CPA Exam
  • At least 1 year of general accounting experience

Let’s look at these CPA requirements, shall we? As we said before, it all depends on the state you wish to be licensed in. The requirements as mentioned before are general requirements. But each state or jurisdiction has a slightly different set of requirements, such as time limit, years of experience or the type of experience. However, many states also have one extra requirement: Ethics Examination. Your congratulatory letter will mention the ethics exam. If the ethics exam is not mentioned in your letter, you don’t have to pass this exam.

A bachelor’s degree

For a CPA candidate to earn the license, all state boards require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree. This degree doesn’t always have to be in accounting.

150 education hours

Each state expects the 150 credit hours to include a certain number of accounting hours. However, this number varies for every state. Many states require candidates to have more upper-level accounting and business courses than a bachelor’s degree involves. Other states maintain that an accounting degree covers the coursework they’d like to see in CPA candidate.

Passing the Uniform CPA Exam

Yes, here it is. The CPA exam. If we are correct, you already know about this exam. If you are not sure what this exam is, we wrote a very clear article about ‘what is the CPA exam’.

At least 1 year of general accounting experience

Most states require 1 or 2 years of relevant accounting experience. However, each state has it own rules about what this accounting experience looks like. Some only accept experience under a licensed CPA, while other readily accept academic and non-public accounting experience.

On this website you’ll find the specific requirements for each state. Be smart, check this information!

What to do after passing the CPA exam?

This question is probably what brought you here. It would only be fair to answer it. The answer to this question depends on what you’ve already done. Did you already finish the 150 hours of education? Then you probably just need the right amount of work experience. The important lesson here is to check the requirements from the state you wish to be licensed in and meet these requirements. Think of it as a to-do list. Check all the boxes until there are no boxes left!

Submit your CPA license

If you checked all the boxes and you met all the requirements for your state, there is only one thing left to do: submit your CPA license. When you are ready, download the license application form from the state board. Send it in together with the initial license fee. The turnaround time for most states is usually fast.

Sell your CPA study notes and earn easy money

Yes! After all the studying, taking notes and writing summaries, it is time to get something in return. Although this is not a requirement for becoming a CPA, it is a nice touch when you are waiting for your license. On Stuvia you can sell your CPA summaries, study notes or guides within a minute. Upload your documents, set your price, and start earning some easy money. You might win back your license fee.

Apply for AICPA membership

Once you are finished with your state CPA licensing, you may choose to apply for membership in the AICPA, the largest professional accounting body in the world. This membership allows you to have a chance to network with fellow CPAs.

Find your dream job

Your job opportunities after passing the CPA will likely increase. Not only will more doors open for you, but you may also see higher earning potential, more job stability and greater job flexibility. You will see that, after all, your energy, time, and motivation wasn’t for nothing. You’re a CPA now. Enjoy!