How to become a CPA in New York

To become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state of New York, the regulations are steep to maintain professional integrity. With the correct preparation, any committed and detail-oriented person can easily earn their CPA license in the Empire State. After finishing a bachelor's degree CPA wannabes must complete another 30 credit hours of accounting or business courses. Completing and passing the uniform CPA exam comes next. The applicant must score a 75% or better on each of the four sections. The final step is to work with the supervision of a licensed CPA for one year. After filling out the licensing paperwork the Certified Public Accountant license for the state of New York should be in the mail. 


It is hard to talk about New York's economy without thinking of the massive multinational corporations that are headquartered there. Of the 70 fortune 500 companies that are based in New York, 24 are finance companies. The financial sector is by far the largest and most profitable industry in the state. Between the areas of finance itself like banks, hedge funds, the stock market, and credit card companies, there are insurance companies, and real estate companies, including rental and leasing. Construction is another large enterprise in New York state. As one of the fastest growing states in the country, due in no small part to the Big Apple, the workers who keep up with that growth also keep up with their salaries. In 2017, New York current-dollar GDP was $1,547.1 billion and ranked 3rd in the United States.


*Content Source: BLS Data


Anyone who wishes 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 the 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, however, the requirements for being eligible to sit for the exam, and subsequently passing, determines if you can be licensed in your state.

The national requirements to become a CPA have four basic starting points. First, licensees have completed 150-semester units of postsecondary education. The first 120 or so (bachelor's degree) can be in any degree field, but business and accounting majors get a leg up on the specific coursework requirements at the state level. Next, they must take a state-specified set of accounting and business courses (outlined below) to complete the remaining 30 credit hour education requirement. Third, they must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. Finally, applicants must complete one year of accounting related work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA to be considered for licensing.


Content Source: college and university websites

The requirements for the state of New York to grant CPA licenses to applicants include several specific guidelines. The New York State Board of Public Accountancy website has all of this information as well as printable license applications and more. Proof of completed requirements of these should be in order before applying for the CPA license. Applicants must be at least 21 years old. They must have one year of experience in employment in a public accounting firm, government, private industry or an educational institution.

The specific academic requirements for CPA licensure in New York can be obtained in several ways. The most common way is to earn a B.A. or graduate degree from a program that is registered by the NY State Department of Accountancy as meeting New York's 150 semester hour education requirements. Another option is to earn a master's degree in accounting from an AACSB accredited accounting program, or complete 33 semester hours in accounting from a 2 or 4-year college/university. Applicants must complete at least one course in each of the following:

  • financial accounting and reporting
  • cost or managerial accounting
  • taxation and auditing
  • accounting research and attestation services
  • Accounting ethics
  • Business communications

In addition to these specific education requirements, 36 additional semester hours must be obtained in general business.


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

Content Source: National Association of State Boards of Accountancy

Every state requires accountants to stay current in their knowledge of the tax and financial laws that pertain to their state. To remain licensed in the state of New York, where it is a great place to be an accountant, licensees must complete a minimum of 40 contact hours every year, and report this information annually or three years of acceptable formal continuing education in any of the recognized subject areas, or complete a minimum of 24 contact hours of acceptable formal continuing education concentrated in one subject area. The subjects approved by the state of New York are: accounting, attest, auditing, taxation, advisory services, specialized knowledge and applications related to specialized industries. Four of these hours must be in ethics of accounting courses. Providers offering ethics courses must register with the Board and/or have their content approved by the Board. Accountants in New York can report their CPE any day of the year. The required dates of license renewal are triennial based on the date of license issuance and the birth month of the licensee.

For accounting instructors in New York postsecondary institutions, the maximum CPE credit for instruction time and the writing of educational articles or books on accounting is 50% of total hours. CPE credit for teaching a college course is recognized based on 15 CPE credits per credit hour of course delivery. Thus teaching a 3 credit college course would be worth 45 CPE credits.

Instructors of formal CPE course offered by an NYS approved CPE provider can claim 1 hour of CPE credit for each hour of the actual presentation plus actual preparation time of up to 2 hours of preparation time for each one hour taught. An author's work must be published in a peer-referenced journal or book dealing with relative topics approved by the department. Instructors cannot repeat courses or lectures for credit without significant revisions or new materials. For those CPAs who are in university or college, CPE credit is awarded as follows: the course must be delivered for academic credit at a regionally accredited college or university and the content area of the course must fall within the approved subject areas. Each semester hour equals 15 hours CE, each quarter hour equals 10 hours CE.


Content Source: BLS Data

The professional organization for accountants in New York State is called the New York State Society of CPAs. Their website has all sorts of helpful information for future and current CPAs. It is a go-to resource for anyone in the Empire state, from those accountants in New York who are just getting started and need help remiembering the paperwork they need to file, to seasoned accountants who are interested in an upcoming conference. The NYSSCPA has information on CPE requirements and information on CPE events that are specific to New York. The accountants who are affiliated with a membership also have more access to tax law changeg. These happen constantly and are enough of a pain in the butt without having to miss out on hearing about one. Professionals can also network with their collegues, which is never a bad thing. 

Content Source: BLS Data