How to Become a CPA in Indiana

A Little Background About This Midwestern Gem

Indiana became an important player in the union in the midst of the Civil War. They were actually one of the first western states to organize themselves for war, and their soldiers were active players in the entire war. As a swing state, their voice remained politically important in electoral politics. They have always held cultural influence, with artistic renaissance moments like the Golden Age of Literature, which was when local writers contributed to a nationally renowned literary canon emerging from the state between 1880 and 1920. Author Stratton-Porter is one of many internationally known writers that came from the state; she has written eight novels that later became motion pictures.

The Diverse Economy of Indiana

Indiana has a dynamic economy consisting of agriculture, durable goods manufacturing, public services, and oil, autos, and steel still comprise a large section of what the state produces. The largest industry in Indiana is currently durable goods manufacturing, accounting for exactly 16% of the state's gross domestic product. They also produce the most and the finest limestone in the country in addition to coal, for their second largest industry, mining. The Indy Car 500 auto race, located annually in the capital city of Indianapolis, not the only sporting event to draw a crowd in the Hoosier state. Baseball and basketball also have an important place in Indiana residents' hearts. Indiana was has produced more NBA basketball players per capita than any other state in history. In Fort Wayne in 1871, it is debated, that the first professional baseball game ever was played. It may have been New York, but Hoosiers are pretty sure it was Indiana.

Accounting Programs in Indiana

If you are hoping to become a CPA from a school in Indiana, you are in luck. There are four AACSB accredited schools located in the Hoosier State. Ball State University, Indiana University Bloomington/Indianapolis, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Southern Indiana. The accreditation means that these schools have made their business schools, and the education of their students in business, their top priority. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is the international organization that has been around since 1916 and has been providing professional development and business education internationally all this time. Eight schools also offer a graduate degree in accounting, the four mentioned above, and four that are not accredited with the AACSB. Those school that lack accreditation can gain accreditation from a different body, and provide an excellent accounting education.

If there is a specific area of accounting that you know you are most interested in learning about, begin your research and networking into it early. The process of beginning to tailor your education around this focused area of study is vital, and doing it early can be helpful. Some of the most common areas of accounting interest include Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Cost Accounting, Auditing and Assurance Services, Tax Accounting, Government Accounting, Non-Profit Accounting, Forensic Accounting, International Accounting, Accounting Information System, and Accounting Education. There are ways to network while still a student to set yourself up for success in some of these niche areas of the field. Especially in areas like government and non-profit accounting, there are often internships or volunteer placements in these areas that combine the love of the job with the interest in the topic of the organization.

Becoming a CPA in Indiana

To be eligible for CPA licensure in Indiana, students are required to follow both state and national guidelines. The steps include educational requirements, passing a national exam, and gaining a bit of professional experience. As far as the educational requirements Indiana accounting students must complete, they must take 24 hours (usually 8 courses) in undergraduate accounting and 15 semester hours in graduate-level accounting. It is certainly possible to take the graduate level coursework while in an undergrad program, but the national minimums require 150 hours of study before becoming licensed. This means 30 hours or 10 courses beyond an undergraduate degree.

The Uniform CPA Exam requirements for Hoosier CPAs are the same as everyone. They must pass all four sections with a 75% or higher. The sections on the CPA exam are Financial Accounting and Reporting, Auditing and Attestation, Regulation, and Business Environment and Concepts. The four sections must be taken at a different time but within 18 months of each other. In some fields, an accrediting exam is the final act before licensure, but not in accounting. These topics cover the most crucial aspects of the field and lay a foundation for competent accounting for new professionals. After the educational requirements and the exam, would-be CPAs must then work for two years in government, industry, academia, or public practice accounting. This can begin before graduating and can continue as an internship or as paid work, as long as the total of time working time is 4,000 full-time hours.

Post Licensure Requirements for CPAs

The initial education that a CPA works toward in school is not the education that will last the entirety of their professional life. Licensed CPAs in all states are required to complete Continued Professional Education (CPE) throughout their career. Indiana CPAs must complete 120 hours of CPE every three years. They may renew their license on June 30, at the end of each third year, but can report their hours anytime throughout the year. The upcoming reporting years are 2020, 2023, 2026, and 2029. In order to help CPAs maintain this amount of commitment to their CPE, they must report a minimum of 20 CPE hours per year. Four of these hours must be in the area of accounting ethics. Options for meeting the ethics requirement include the completion of a competency-based ethics course or a volunteer (non-compensated) role in a firm where the work experience requires the CPA to apply of the code of professional conduct.

For Indiana specifically, CPAs must complete 10% of their CPE requirements in the area of Accounting and Auditing. Instructors of accounting on a university level can count their instruction hours up to 50% of their time. Credit for these folks is equal to presentation plus preparation. CPAs can also engage in self-study for up to 50% of their CPE requirements each year. Those CPAs who have gone back to school for more accounting coursework can also count their instruction as long as the work is a graduate level course and the CPA has earned a grade of "C" or above.

CPA Resources in Indiana

Most states have a state board of accountancy which oversees their professional activities and issues licenses. For Indiana, this board is located in Indianapolis. Their interactive website has all that a CPA in the state would need, including a portal for uploading licensing documents and get valuable information on changing laws that pertain to accounting and accounting professionals. The state also has a professional society that is made up of professionals around to state. It is called the Indiana CPA Society and it serves to connect CPAs around the state with each other. They are responsible for various networking events and organizational job fairs. They also hold conferences that allow for CPAs to earn their CPE credits for the year.