How to Become a CPA in Michigan

Michigan's Rising Economy

The Michigan economy has been dominated by automobile and steel manufacturing for a very long time. The state is still known as the center of the U.S. automotive industry, as it was the largest economic force for the state, and in some ways for the country, in the early 20th century. The companies that are still thriving in Michigan, around Detroit are Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. In the northern peninsula, the dominant economic force these days is tourism. There are beautiful lakes, and many people call the area home for summer vacation. In the lower peninsula, manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, services, and high-tech industry are the current drivers of Michigan economics.

Accounting Programs in Michigan

For those who are interested in an accounting degree from a Michigan school, it is a great place to be looking. They have a whopping five schools that have AACSB accreditation in the state. This means there are five excellent schools to choose from, who have made it their priority to create a business school that provides the kind of education students need to succeed in this globalized market. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is thought of as the gold standard in business education. The rigorous accreditation process includes ensuring the faculty are sound, accomplished, capable experts in their field. It requires that the latest innovations in technology and teaching methods are up to date with the current practice in the field, if not more advanced. Finally, it takes into account the success of former students of the institution as they enter the professional realm.

The schools in Michigan that have successfully applied for and completed the process of accreditation are Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, Oakland University, and Western Michigan University. Each of these schools offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting, as well as certificates in accounting and finance at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The impact that a degree from an AACSB accredited business school can have on eventual employment is unclear, but the impact it has on education is definitive. People who study at schools that have earned this prestigious acclaim are sure to receive a high-quality education and use it to do great things in the worlds of business and accounting.

Becoming a CPA in Michigan

To complete the steps necessary to become a licensed CPA in Michigan, soon to be CPAs must have patience. Unlike some professional fields, CPA licensure is not earned simply, as a result, by completing an accounting program, although that is one required step. It's earned as a result of completing a licensing exam. The basic three-step process to become a CPA in Michigan, with some additional points to not forget, comes down to education, exam, and experience.

The national education requirement for CPA licensure in this country is 150 hours (including an undergraduate degree). Each state determines how many hours they require before an applicant can sit for the CPA exam, but in order to become licensed, the requirement is 150 hours. In Michigan, 30 of these semester hours must be in coursework that directly relates to accounting. To become licensed in Michigan, applicants must also have completed 12 semester hours in graduate-level accounting or business coursework. A master's degree is not a requirement for licensure in Michigan, but it is something many people choose it since there is a 30 credit hour requirement beyond the bachelor's degree (which often only consists of 120 hours).

The Uniform CPA Exam

There are four sections to the CPA exam. These sections include Business Environment and Concepts, Regulation, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Auditing & Attestation. The four sections are taken at different times, each part consisting of 4-hours of testing. The sections cover completely a different set of topics and concepts. All four sections must be completed with a score of 75% or higher, the last not being scheduled longer than 18-months after the first. Test takers are allowed to take any section of any test within a certain testing window. This window is far enough from the last test that they can score it and set back up. No one may take any section more than once in the same window, so if an applicant does not pass the Regulation section, for instance, they must wait until the following window to retake this section. If they were planning on also taking Auditing & Attestation during that same window they still can. They just cannot retake the Regulation portion. Many people do not recommend taking more than one section during a testing window. This is why there are 18 months to make improvements if you fail one section, and time to prepare to find success on the next one.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the body who is responsible for writing and re-creating the exam when needed, but they are not the body that administers it. Each state has a State Board of Accountancy, and Michigan is no exception. This is who administers the exam because this is also the body that ultimately reports scores to the candidates and grants licenses to those who pass. To be eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam, applicants in Michigan must have completed their bachelor's degree within 30 days after the first exam section date.

After the 150 hours of education and four-part CPA exam, the last stop on the train to CPA success is the experience requirement. In Michigan, CPAs must have completed one year or 2,000 hours of full-time work in accounting, in the realm of government, industry, academia, or public practice. This work can be unpaid as with an internship or fellowship, or a paid position, and any work in this time can be continued without stopping after licensure is obtained. This means that a very driven accounting student could begin their undergraduate program, begin an internship in their third year, complete the CPA exam in their last semester of the bachelor's degree, and only have the 30 hours of graduate work to finish licensure. By that point, there are a number of positions that a future CPA can begin working in, as an asset to the company, but without using the title of CPA.

Post Licensure Requirements For CPAs

CPAs must continue the process of learning about accounting throughout their career. Earning Continued Professional Education credits (CPE) are what CPAs call this process. In Michigan, CPAs need to earn 80 hours every two years to be allowed to renew their license. The license renewal date is on 7/31 every other year, in the odd-numbered years. Professionals can report to their state board their hours anytime throughout the year, and must earn 40 per year. This means that CPAs will not be allowed to simply perform all 80 hours at a conference in the final two months of the reporting period. Four of these hours, two per year, must be specified in the area of accounting ethics. Unique to Michigan, 1 hour of these must also be in the educational area of Michigan Statutes and Administrative Rules applicable to Public Accountancy. Also unique to the state, CPAs must complete 8 hours per year in Accounting and Auditing focused CPE.