How to Become a CPA in Nevada

The steps to understanding Nevada CPA requirements, in order to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Nevada, like those in every other state, are highly regulated. Since the licensure exam is uniform across the country, laws regulating how to obtain licensure must be different per state, to accommodate the varying state tax and finance laws. Even the requirements for eligibility to sit for the exam vary by state. Nevada CPA requirements can be broken down into three basic steps; education, exam, and experience. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the body that creates, maintains, and oversees the administration of the Uniform CPA Exam nationally. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) is the entity that administers it in each state. Joint oversight like this means that the organization charged with creating the test is not the same one to administer it and vice versa. This leaves each of them to focus on the parts they do best regarding helping you become a CPA.

The Economy of Nevada

Nevada is called the Battle Born State because it became the 36th in 1864, smack in the middle of the U.S. Civil War. Since then, the state economy is described ubiquitously as a boom and bust economy, surviving many great gains, and losses over the years. Because of the prohibitive desert conditions, agriculture in the state takes considerable effort, planning, and money. It was not unheard of in the early days, but not that common either.

The two things that brought people and their money to Nevada were mining for precious metals and the U.S. military. As a low-population state in the early 20th century, including few lawmen, and even fewer men of God, laws allowing activities that many states long made illegal. One of these was gambling, and since it became legal in 1931, casinos and other gambling revenue has kept Nevada's economy fairly strong, or at least resilient ever since. In 2017, the largest industry in Nevada was finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing. It made up 20.6% of the gross state product. The second largest industry was arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services. This accounted for 16.8 % of the GSP.

Nevada CPA license: How to Get There

The field of accounting and the finance sector, in general, is considered a highly skilled profession. Any job that could cause great harm if done poorly, like driving a car, requires a license to practice. Practicing accounting as a CPA also requires a highly detailed process to even get started, let alone finish it. CPAs in Nevada must complete state-specific education before they are allowed to call themselves CPAs. Even though most of the job they do is the same across the country, and the licensing test is uniform, CPAs are state-licensed because there are many state-specific tax and financial laws that Certified Public Accountants must contend with. Being licensed to be trusted to handle someone else's money is a pretty important thing to have the skills for. Almost every state allows their CPAs to practice outside of the licensing state. Many states put certain restrictions on this practice to maintain order, and keep the field state specific. They may not be able to work more than a certain number of hours, or they might be limited regarding how much money they can earn while practicing accounting jobs outside of their licensing state. The state board websites provide information on what the regulations are from Nevada to another state. Depending on the state you are traveling to for work from Nevada, different rules apply. Each state makes specific arrangements with another and so Nevada CPAs may have different rules in California than they do in Colorado.

The national requirements to become a CPA include a minimum standard of 150-semester units of post-secondary education at accredited colleges or universities, one year of accounting related work experience, and passing the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. Once you are 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 the next state over. Most accounting programs spend time discussing inter-state laws regarding accounting practice.

Where to Go and How to Get it

To become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Nevada, specific eligibility requirements must be met beyond those of the national minimums. The Nevada State Board of Public Accountancy updates their website to inform people in the world of accounting about these requirements, with links to accounting laws that pertain to Nevada specifically, contact information to relevant people and programs, and downloadable and electronic submittable forms for CPA applicants.

Unique to Nevada, CPA Exam applicants must have a Bachelor's Degree, with a minimum of 30 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours above the introductory level in accounting. As for business courses, graduates must have taken a minimum of 24 semester hours. Principles or introductory courses do not qualify in the 48 required hours. After completing the Uniform CPA Exam, the new CPA must also pass the AICPA Professional Ethics Exam for initial licensure. No CPA can get licensed in Nevada without passing the ethics exam.

Becoming Eligible, the Ulitmate Question

To be eligible for CPA licensure in State, candidates must meet these following qualifications:

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Nevada offers other options for the education requirements that are suitable for CPA licensure, which includes a completed bachelor's degree, and fifteen semester hours in Accounting. Alternately, the applicant can be within 18 semester hours of completing a bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, from a regionally accredited college or university, and upon graduation will have completed 15 semester hours in Accounting.

In order to obtain a license, CPAs must be also employed full-time for two years of public accounting experience in accounting or auditing, finance, advising or consulting with clients on matters relating to management, preparation of tax returns or the furnishing of advice on matters relating to taxes. They may alternately obtain four years experience in internal audit or governmental accounting and auditing considered to be substantially equivalent in the NV State Board of Accountancy's judgment.

So You Are Licensed, Now What?

All CPAs must continue their accounting education to maintain licensure after it is obtained. In the field, they call this Continued Professional Education (CPE) and it is required each year, but the amount varies from state to state. The CPE Reporting Period is also different in each state. In Nevada, the period is from 1/1 to 12/31 over a two-year rolling period. General requirements for CPE include 80 hours, with a minimum of 20 per year. There is also an annual CPE in ethics requirement for most states including Nevada. The requirement, in this case, is four hours in the area of accounting professional conduct and ethics.

For those accountants who teach on the topic in college or university, they can receive any number of hours for instruction. Credit is equal to presentation plus preparation and preparation is limited to two times presentation. Repeat instruction within twelve months is only accepted if the material is substantially changed and approved by the board. The NBOA will award the CPE hours for the year in which the exam was passed and the certification was received. For those CPAs who are taking accounting courses at an accredited college or university, one semester hour equals 15 CPE hours, one-quarter hour equals 10 CPE hours. For non-credit courses, each classroom hour will equal one qualifying hour. Nevada accepts CPE credits for programs offered by National Registry sponsors.

Federal regulations in 2007 were designed to make it easier for a CPA to maintain clients who move away or live in another state. Historically the accountant and the client had to live and work in the same state, and that client moved to the next state over or took a job just over the border, or (a newer scenario) the client is telecommuting to a state neither of them lives in, that CPA could continue working with that client, 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 the 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 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.

Each State has a board of State Society or professional organization for accountants. The Nevada 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 Nevada. Membership in a state professional organization will also ensure that CPAs are up to date on any tax law changes, which happen constantly, and give working professionals a great way to network and meet colleagues.