How to Become a CPA in Hawai'i

Hawai'i CPA requirements, are similar but not exactly the same as in the upper 48. Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state of Hawai'i requires applicants to complete four basic steps, although the details of those steps require this whole page. A bachelor's degree in any discipline will get you most of the way there, but 30 more credit hours of school beyond that is also required. Which courses you complete in order to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam varies state to state. After your bachelor's degree is complete, 30 credit hours of business courses are required, and then it's time to successfully complete four sections of the CPA exam, which is uniform, and then you can work with the supervision of a licensed CPA for one year. After filling out the licensing paperwork correctly, you are ready to make your accounting dreams come true.


Hawai'i has a unique economy in that the vast majority of income to inhabitants of this island chain in the Pacific is fueled by tourism. The greatest contributor to the Gross State Product (GSP) on the other hand is finance, insurance, real estate, and home rental. In 2017, Hawaii had an average per capita personal income of $51,939. That is a little higher than the national average of close to $50 thousand. The GSP of Hawai'i in 2017 was $88.1 billion and ranked 38th in the United States. Not bad for a little state in the middle of a big ocean. Those accountants who are excited about real estate tax law, or who want to crunch numbers on financing new construction, these would be great professional areas to work in Hawai'i.


*Content Source: BLS Data


Anyone who hopes to become a CPA in the United States, must sit for and pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (Uniform CPA Exam). The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the body that creates and regulates the exam, and National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) administers it in each state. The Uniform CPA Exam is the same, or uniform, in every state. The only things that change are the requirements for being eligible to sit for the exam. Getting through the requirements and passing all four parts of the exam with a 75% or greater determines if you can be licensed in your state.

After someone is licensed as a CPA in any state, interstate CPA licensing requirements begin to apply, regardless of the type of client services you perform, and regardless of how well you know about the laws in other states. Educational programs in accounting include sections on inter-state laws regarding accounting practice, and at the bottom of this page, we explain more about regulations that allow CPAs to practice in other states.


Content Source: college/university websites

CPA requirements in Hawai'i, the applicant must be at least 18 years old and have met the 150 hours of college coursework required to sit for the CPA exam or expect to meet it within 120 days following the first date the applicant sits for the Exam. The coursework must specifically be 18 semester hours of upper-division or graduate level accounting or auditing subjects, or the applicant must have completed a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent in accounting. After sitting for and passing the four sections of the Uniform CPA exam with a 75% or greater in each testing areas, the applicant must complete 1500 hours in audit, working under the direction of a licensed CPA, or 2-years in government, industry, academia, or public practice.


The Hawai'i State Board of Public Accountancy is the body that regulates accounting laws that are specific to the Aloha State. To become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Hawai'i, as opposed to Nebraska or North Carolina, specific eligibility requirements must be met beyond those of the national minimums. The State Board updates their website to inform people in the world of accounting about these requirements, with links to accounting laws that pertain to Hawai'i specifically, contact information to relevant people and programs, and downloadable and electronic submittable forms for CPA applicants.

To be eligible for CPA licensure in Hawai'i, candidates must meet these following qualifications:

Content Source: National Association of State Boards of Accountancy

To maintain a license after the first year of licensure, CPAs must continue to study accounting every year as long as they are employed. This post-licensure education comes in the form of Continuing Professional Education hours (CPE). In Hawai'i, accountants must complete 40 hours per year of CPE. The license renewal date is the day that CPAs must report their CPE by. In Hawai'i, professionals report every 2 years, by the last day of the year of odd years. They can report anytime in those two years. CPAs are required to earn 80 hours of CPE in this timeframe, and 4 of these must be in Ethics of accountancy specifically.

For accounting instructors at postsecondary schools, presenters and instructors may receive CPE for instructing, but only for their presentation time, not for planning classes or lectures. The maximum credit allowed for instructors is 40 hours. Credit for teaching the same course is awarded only once during a three-year period. People who publish work on accounting may also earn credit, but the maximum credit allowed for a published material is 20 hours.

The maximum credit allowed for time spent as a reviewer at a formally sponsored inter-office or inter-firm quality review program is 20 hours. Those who are CPAs and still or again attending a university or college for accounting programs such as an accounting graduate certificate or additional Master's degree may receive credit: One-quarter hour equals 10 CPE hours; One semester hour equals 15 CPE hours; one-hour non-credit class participation equals 1 CPE hour. Up to forty (40) hours earned in beyond those needed for one reporting period may be carried over to the next reporting period.


Content Source: BLS Data

In 2007, federal laws were passed to make it easier for accountants to cross state lines, physically or virtually, to work with clients in other states. Before these new regulations, the accountant and the client were required to live and work or be headquartered in the case of a corporate client, in the same state. If that client moved away or opened a business or branch in another state, they were forced to find a new CPA. even though the clients' finances are now the concern of a state the CPA is not licensed in. The regulating bodies who govern accounting, and who passed this new regulation are the AICPA and NASBA.

The regulation itself is referred to as Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) and the section dealing with mobility across state lines is section 23, or "no notice, no fee, no escape". Section 23 is often compared to the driver's license model. Any driver who is licensed in a U.S. state can, without penalty, drive across the country without applying for new driver's licenses in each state she visits. If she were to disobey the traffic laws of the state she is visiting outside her licensing state, she can be disciplined by the state where the infraction occurred. The same applies to accountants under the UAA, and specifically section 23. The UUA in its entirety was developed and is maintained, reviewed and updated by the AICPA and NASBA. It provides a uniform approach to regulation of the accounting profession.

Content Source: BLS Data

Each State has a board of State Society or professional organization for accountants. The Hawai'i Society of Certified Public Accountants website has all sorts of helpful information for future and current CPAs, as well as CPE requirements and information for conferences and CPE events that are specific to Hawai'i. Membership in a state professional organization will also ensure that CPAs are up to date on any tax law changes, which happen constantly.