How to Become a CPA in California

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant or CPA in California involves many of the same steps and requirements contained in other states’ standards. You must have a legitimate baccalaureate degree from an approved college or university, you must have a pre-determined number of experience hours, and you must pass a state-sponsored accreditation test. The exact path you should follow depends primarily on the education credits: Was your approved course taken in California or the country ,or was it based outside the United States?

In-Country Education
This path to a CPA accreditation is the simpler of the two. You must possess a bachelor’s degree in any subject but that also includes a minimum of 24 credit hours of accounting-related subjects and 24 hours of business-related courses.

You must pass the Uniform CPA exam and the Professional Ethics Exam for CPAs as well as have at least two years of general accounting experience working under the supervision of a CPA whose license is in good standing.

If you explore the second pathway of in-country education, you must still possess a bachelor’s degree, but instead of the minimum of 120 credit hours, the two tests and two years’ of verifiable work experience, your second option includes a total of 150 credit hours with the dual 24-credit-hour requirement, but the extra education credit cuts your supervised work experience down to only one year.

Out-of-Country Education
You can still become a CPA in the state of California if your education is foreign-based, although the pathway has more obstacles and can often take longer to complete.

You must still possess at least a four-year degree, but you must present your transcripts by an academic credential service that is approved by the California Board of Accountancy (CBA). This requirement exists even if you are licensed within the foreign country. Most evaluation organizations charge up to $250 for this service, and the cost is separate from any testing fees. Your course-hour requirement remains the same as those educated within the state, so review them prior to applying for evaluation. The chosen agency will send your transcript report to the CBA on your behalf, but’s never a bad idea to include another copy with your transcripts, however.

See the list of approved agencies on the California CPA’s website.

Once your transcripts are approved, you must still take and pass the state’s CPA exam. The exam consists of four parts taken over a two-day period. Ensure the agency has both a copy of your transcripts and the evaluation report before scheduling your test and paying the exam fee.

You must still complete the required supervised work period, but if you are already a practicing CPA, you can apply to have your verifiable work experience credited to this requirement. If if is, you will receive your CPA license quickly. If not, you must comply with California’s standards before you can call yourself and work as a licensed CPA in the state.