How to Become a CPA in Ohio

It's a fairly straightforward trajectory to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state of Ohio, though the process is quite regulated. The good news is, if you already have a bachelor's degree in any discipline, you are several steps ahead of starting from scratch. After your bachelor's degree is complete, you must also complete another 30 credit hours of accounting or business courses, after which you must successfully complete each of the four sections of the CPA exam. The final step is to work with the supervision of a licensed CPA for one year. After filling out the licensing paperwork correctly, you are now ready to make your accounting dreams come true by becoming a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Ohio.


The economic conditions of Ohio are only getting better all the time. The two largest areas of growth and prosperity are in the finance sector including insurance, real estate, and home and business rental, and the thriving auto industry. According to the government's Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2017, Ohio had an average per capita personal income of $45,615. This ranks 29th in the United States for personal income. The Gross State Product, on the other hand, earned the Buckeye state $649.1 billion, which is 7th overall in the United States. For savvy accountants who want to be on the winning team of industry, looking into real estate taxes, or automotive factory taxes would be a great idea.


*Content Source: BLS Data


The difference between a bookkeeper, an accountant, and a CPA is the CPA license. To become a CPA in the United States, those with the proper education and work experience 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 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 include a minimum standard of 150-semester units of post-secondary education, 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. Educational programs in accounting include sections on inter-state laws regarding accounting practice.


Content Source: college and university websites

The requirements for the state of Ohio to grant CPA licenses to applicant include several specific guidelines. The Ohio 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 18 years old and must have good moral character, which simply means no history of violent crimes or fraud in their past. They must have completed 150 semester hours of college education.

Unique to Ohio, all of the credits must have been earned at an institution recognized by Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or AACSB. Also unique to Ohio, the educational hours must include 30 semester hours in accounting at the undergraduate level or 18 semester hours of accounting at the graduate level with at least one course in each of the following:

  • financial accounting,
  • management accounting
  • auditing
  • Taxation,
  • professional ethics and responsibilities.
  • 24 semester hours in business subjects.

The above pathway does not make sense for everyone. Many people who already have a bachelor's degree, for instance, would not want to go back and complete almost a year more of undergraduate work. Another option, in lieu of completion of 150 semester hours of college education, is earning a minimum score of 620 on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and the completion of 30 graduate semester hours of accounting with at least one course in each of the bulleted list above.


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

Content Source: National Association of State Boards of Accountancy

Licensed CPAs everywhere have to renew their license in a time period determined by their licensing state. In Ohio, the renewal period is every three years, on or before the last day of the year. They can report anytime throughout those three years, and they must have completed 120 hours of Continued Professional Education. Three of the hours must be in an area of ethics in accounting that has been approved by the Executive Director of the Accountancy Board of Ohio.

Some areas of professional work can substitute for CPE hours in classrooms. Of the 120 per three years, 24 hours can be in Accounting or Auditing if work on financial reporting engagements or financial reporting work outside public accounting while using the CPA designation. A further 24 hours can be in the area of Tax work, if the CPA is working on tax engagements, providing tax advice to clients, or performing tax work outside public accounting while using the CPA designation. Instructors of Accounting at an accredited postsecondary school can count their hours toward CPE, as well as those who write accounting publications. In this case, the executive director would evaluate continuing education credit claimed for publications or other special learning activities, and may require that the Ohio permit holder submit appropriate documentation to support the credit claimed.


Content Source: BLS Data

Federal regulations were passed in 2007 that makes it possible for CPAs to maintain their clients even if the client or the CPA move themselves or their business across state lines. Prior to 07, if both client and accountant were required to conduct business in the same state. The regulating bodies who organized this new governance are the NASBA and AICPA.

The regulation is called the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA), and it comes with the language associated with moving across state lines in section 23. It is referred to as "no notice, no fee, no escape." This section is often compared to the driver's license model, because like with a driver's license, you can be licensed in one state, and drive in any other state without applying for a new license. If you were to break a traffic law of the state you visit outside your licensing state, state, where the infraction occurred, would be responsible for enforcing the law or correcting your error. The same applies to the UAA.

Content Source: BLS Data

Each State has a board of State Society or professional organization for accountants. The Ohio Society of CPAs 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 Ohio. 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.