How to Become a CPA in Louisiana

The steps to become a CPA in Louisiana are similar as in other states, with small but important differences. Students who wish to earn their CPA status, who live or learn in the Pelican State can earn their qualifications with just a few simple steps. Whether you are at the stage of wondering "what does an accountant do?" or you are on your way to filing your last piece of paperwork for licensure, Accounting Degree Review informs you about all the requirements you'll need. From getting an education, passing the CPA exam, earning the right amount of experience, to learning your accounting ethics. The four E's before earning an accountant salary will be no problem after reading this guide.

Understanding Louisiana's Economy

Louisiana is one of the most fascinating and diverse states in the union. With a strategic regional position both on the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, many different countries were interested in the land during the European Colonization of the "New World". Unlike many Southern and East Coast cities, Indigenous populations were not entirely relegated to states west, and have been present influencing the culture of Louisiana since white people arrived in the 1600's. Because of this, as well as the Gulf Shore, being the first stop for some Europeans sailing from the West Indies and the Carribean, many cultures converge across the state. Linguistically, Louisiana may be one of the most long-standing and truly diverse states. Besides English, which developed third in the region after Indigenous languages, and French, Louisiana recognizes Cajun French and Colonial French. By the time English came along, what developed was Cajun English and Yat (a creole accent of white, urban people who were brought up in the greater New Orleans area). Finally, there is Louisiana Creole, which pertains to the family of French Creoles in the area.

Because of all of this cultural diversity, the economic diversity of Louisiana is vast as well. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2017, the largest industry in the state was nondurable goods manufacturing. This industry accounted for 16.8 percent of the gross state product for 2017. Louisiana state domestic product and included things like cotton, chemicals, paper, and petroleum. The Oil industry is in the state, accounting for close to 90% of the state's income. Much of the rest of the state's income comes from cattle production and other agricultural endeavors.

Accounting Education in Louisiana

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is the organization responsible for accrediting business and accounting programs in the U.S. and around the world. For schools that seek this prestigious badge of honor, students can trust that meticulous thought and work went into creating business and accounting programs that return on their educational investment. There are six schools in Louisiana who have sought and been awarded the AACSB accreditation. These schools include Louisiana Tech University and Southeastern Louisiana University with their Colleges of Business, Nicholls State University and the University of New Orleans with their Colleges of Business Administration, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with the B. I. Moody, III College of Business Administration, and finally, the University of Louisiana at Monroe and their College of Business and Social Sciences. 

Other fine business programs in Louisiana that do not have the accreditation are not necessarily lacking in the ability to produce good business people and accountants, it's simply that the above six schools have made accreditation their top priority. According to the AACSB website, of those featured on the 2016 Financial Times' From MBA to CEO list, 96% of chief executives attended an AACSB-accredited school. It is what employers look for when they are hiring, and it is what clients look for when they hire. The association serves more than 3 million students currently worldwide.

Earning a CPA License in Louisiana

For CPAs in Louisiana and across the country, an important number to remember is 150. This is the number of credit hours needed before they are able to sit for the CPA exam, and eventually get their CPA license. Often what that means is a 120 credit hour bachelor's degree, majoring in business or accounting is a good bet, and then 30 more credit hours in a graduate program or advanced certificate program. In Louisiana specifically, 24 of these hours must be in upper-level accounting courses. In Louisiana, there is no age requirement to sit for the Uniform CPA exam, but applicants must be U.S. citizens with a residency status in Louisiana and have a social security number. Every student must pass the test with a 75% or greater in each of the weighted sections. The four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam test for skills in auditing financial accounting and reporting, knowledge of accounting regulations, and the knowledge of the business environment and concepts related to it.

Accounting is different than many fields because after passing the exam, there is still more to do before getting the license. CPAs in the Pelican state must complete 1 year of work experience that can be in an unpaid internship, or as a bookkeeper in a firm or other practice. CPAs can choose to experience this year in government, industry, academia or public practice. Unlike most states, there is not a required ethics exam before becoming a licensed CPA in LA.

Maintaining a CPA License in Louisiana

Every CPA must complete what are called Continuing Professional Education hours each year that they are licensed to practice. In Louisiana, CPAs must complete 80 hours of CPE every two years, but no less than 20 throughout each one of these two years. The reporting date for CPAs is by New Year's Eve each year. Although it is not required to take the CPA exam in Louisiana, an Ethics requirement is in place for CPE. Accountants must complete 3 hours of Ethics coursework and 8 hours of Auditing coursework per year. For licensed accountants who are also instructors in accounting at the college level, they can receive CPE credit for the time it takes to plan, prep and teach the class. The total credit that they can claim is 20 hours per year and cannot be used if the course is not changed from year to year. Those who publish educational accounting material can only claim 10 hours per the calendar year for the research and writing of published accounting documents, books, and pamphlets.

For CPAs who are earning more credentials in accounting by going back to school, college or university courses earn 15 credits per semester hour. For instructors, they can earn credit for the presentation of their lesson, as well as preparation for the class. Preparation can only be double what the presentation hours are. Credits can also be claimed for completing exams for higher credentials and specialized topics at 5 credits per exam hour passed but can only make up 20 hours of CPE per the calendar year.