How to Become a CPA in Alabama

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant in Alabama is a great choice for those who are detail-oriented and organized enough to be drawn to the profession. Understanding the complex and ever-changing tax and finance laws, as well as following the details of the evolving components of the state economy takes focus and patience. The population of the state of Alabama in 2017 was 4,874,747 placing it at 24th in the population category among U.S. states.

Mid-sized automobiles and large automobiles, both in piston and diesel engines take up four of the top 10 exports from the state of Heart of Dixie and $7.701 billion of the total exports of the state. Chemical wood pulp from the state’s coniferous forests is number seven on the top ten list, bringing Alabama $481 million in revenues. For all of this exporting, the income for workers in Alabama was not as grand in 2017. The state earned an average per capita personal income of $40,805 which was $10,835 less than the U.S. average. The gross domestic product in Alabama $211.0 billion which placed it 27th as compared to other states. The largest single industry contributing to this figure was government and government enterprises, at $35.2 billion. This is good news for those who are interested in entering the field of government accounting. 

Alabama has three commonly used nicknames. The first of these is “The Yellowhammer State,” inspired by the state bird, Northern Flicker or Yellowhammer Flicker. During the U.S. Civil War, Confederate soldiers from Alabama were nicknamed “yellowhammers” because the grey-and-yellow uniforms they wore looked like the colors of the bird. Alabama is also called “The Cotton State,” and the “Heart of Dixie.” This southeastern state touches Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, and the Gulf of Mexico to its south. Alabama is one of the areas known for its vast stretches of inland waterways, adding up to nearly 1,500 miles. Birmingham, which is considered by some to be the starting ground of the Civil Rights Movement, is the largest city in the state. The more centrally located capital city is Montgomery. The state flag features a giant red X on a white background, symbolizing St. Andrews Saltire (diagonal cross) atop a white field. The flag design was brought forth by an act of the Alabama State Legislature in 1895.

Alabama Accounting Programs

There are five AACSB accredited schools located in The Cotton State. What it means to be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is that the business school or program at that institution found it more important to serve student and cater to their success, and hire faculty that is contributing experts in their field than literally any other priority. These five include Auburn University, Auburn University at Montgomery, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, The University of Alabama, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, and The University of South Alabama.

  • Auburn University is located in the city of Auburn and is a public research university. The Raymond J. Harbert College of Business was founded in 1957, one hundred and one years after its mother university was first chartered. They offer a General Business doctorate, and full and part-time bachelor’s and master’s in accounting degrees. Of the 78 business school faculty, 91 percent have terminal degrees in one of the many business fields.
  • Auburn University at Montgomery, on the other hand, was founded in 1967, the same year as their College of Business. They are located in the heart of Montgomery. It is a small public master’s university, and marketing, business, management, and related financial support services are among the things the university is known for excelling at. They offer accounting coursework in full or part-time formats at the bachelor’s and master’s level. The College of Business employs only 28 full-time faculty, and 80% of them have a Ph.D. or other terminal degree in their field.
  • The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa was founded in 1831. The Culverhouse College of Business was founded in 1919. It is also a public research university but is roughly 10 times the size in terms of enrolled students. Alabama (as the university is often referred) offers full-time programs in Accounting at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Of the 147 full-time faculty, 115 have a terminal degree.
  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers the Collat School of Business and over 50 years of business, accounting, and management education. The Carnegie Foundation calls UAB a research university with a very high research activity. Collat offers undergraduate, and master’s programs in accounting that are offered full-time, part-time, evenings and weekends, via distance education, and online. One of the standards of the accreditation from the AACSB is the relative accomplishments of the program faculty. At UAB, there are 49 of 64 full-time faculty members who have earned a terminal degree in business and their specific niche.
  • The Mitchell College of Business at the University of South Alabama is the last of the 5 AACSB accredited schools in Alabama. South Alabama is located on the Gulf Coast in Mobile, AL. It is a public university that is classified as a masters university, due to the high level of research. The Mitchell College of Business was named that in 1999 after generous benefactors from the Mitchell family, a prominent set of business people in the Mobile area. They offer accounting programs with the option of a full or part-time basis and doctoral programs in Management and Marketing in a non-traditional format. Mitchell employs 48 full-time faculty, 87% of whom have earned a terminal degree in their field.

Becoming a CPA in Alabama

To become a licensed CPA in Alabama, applicants must be 19 years old or older, and citizens of the U.S., with a social security number. They must have earned 150 hours in post-secondary coursework including a bachelor’s degree in accounting. They do not need to have established residency in Alabama prior to going for the CPA license. The specific education requirements to become eligible to earn a CPA license include 24 semester hours in accounting. Of these 24, 9 hours if the coursework should be in the area of financial accounting, 3 should be in auditing, 6 hours should be in the area of taxation, 3 of the hours must focus on the area of management accounting, 3 hours should be in the niche area of governmental or not-for-profit accounting, and at least 3 of the coursework hours should focus on business law. After education and exam sitting requirements, CPAs in Alabama must earn 1-year of experience in public accounting or at least 2-years work experience in government, industry, business, or university instruction. All CPAs are required to pass the Ethics Exam from the AICPA prior to initial licensure.

Alabama Requirement for Maintaining Licensure

The Post Licensure Requirements for CPAs in Alabama include 40 general requirement hours of Continuing Professional Education. There are no ethics requirements, which is unusual, as most states emphasize ethics throughout the course of a CPA career. Licenses must be renewed every year by September 30. The CPE Reporting period is from October 1 to September 30 every year. Other subject area requirements include 8 hours of accounting and auditing coursework. There are some limitations to achieving CPE credits, including the fact that behavioral classes have a limit of 8 hours. Also, publishing materials can count for authorship credit, however, the limit is 25 percent of the total hours. Self-study is granted as a form of CPE, though it is limited to 50 percent of the total hours granted. Attending technical meetings are also accounted for in the context of CPE credits, in the context of national and chapter meetings for state organizations in accounting, though they are limited to 8 hours.

In terms of credit calculation when CPAs provide academic instruction, credit is granted for the presentation times two, but no credit is granted specifically for research or prep. If the class is taught a second time, it will not be counted for CPE credits unless the material is dramatically altered. If the CPA returns to college or university classes as a student, every hour in the classroom will account for one hour of CPE credit. 10 CPE hours will be granted for every quarter hour. For every noncredit course, every classroom hour will make up for one CPE hour. CPE credits are accepted by the state of Alabama for programming delivered by the sponsors of the National Registry. All non-residents who are licensees must work with the requirements in this state to renew for a year-long permit in Alabama.