How to Become a CPA in Tennessee

The requirements for accountants who work in Tennessee to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) are pretty straightforward but in depth. Like the Tax Code, the only way to understand all the regulations is to break them down. Tennessee CPA requirements, if completed correctly, should allow any detail-oriented, hard-working person to earn their CPA license in the Volunteer State. The basic steps are after finishing a bachelor's degree, the applicant must earn another 30 credit hours of accounting or business courses. Once 150 hours are earned, and the state-specific courses passed, the applicant must sit for and pass all four sections of the uniform CPA exam with a score a 75% or better on each. The final step is to be employed in accounting or auditing and report to a licensed CPA for one year. At that point, there is a bit of paperwork, but the applicant should be ready to sign their name with the letters C-P-A behind it.


The largest economic driver in Tennessee is the financial sector, including financial companies like banks and stock companies, insurance companies, real estate developers, and rental homes and businesses. The second largest field is education, including Colleges and Universities and private secondary education. For those looking to specialize in a field-specific accounting practice, real estate and educational finance would be great places to start. In 2017, Tennessee averaged a per capita personal income of $44,266. This is a little lower than the national average of $50 thousand. Tennessee's Gross State Product earned the state $345.2 billion, which ranks 18th 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 theNational 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 Tennessee to grant CPA licenses to applicants include several specific guidelines. Tennessee 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. There is no age requirement for Tennessee CPA applicants, nor a proof of citizenship requirement per se, but they must have a social security number. Applicants must complete 1 year of work experience gained through employment in industry, government, academia or public practice. For CPAs hoping to provide attest services, they are required 2 years experience.

The specific academic requirements for CPA licensure in Tennessee can be obtained after the applicant completes 30 semester or equivalent quarter hours of accounting education including the elementary level. Not more than 3 semester hours may be internship programs which may be applied to the 30 hours in accounting. Candidates must have at least 24 semester hours of accounting courses at the upper division level, junior level courses or higher. Applicants in Tennessee are required to take their CPA examination within 200 days of completing their education requirement. Applicants must also pass AICPA Professional Ethics Exam for initial licensure.


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

Content Source: National Association of State Boards of Accountancy

CPAs in every state must remain active in their field, and continue to learn about this dynamic profession. To remain licensed in the state of Tennessee, accountants must complete a minimum of 80 Continued Professional Education (CPE) hours every two years, with at least 20 hours minimum each of those years. The license renewal date is the last day of each year, but for CPAs with an even license number it is 12/31 of even years, and for those with odd-numbered licenses it is 12/31 of odd years. CPAs are required to take 4 ethics courses from a board-approved instructors and two hours state-specific ethics course which are designed to familiarize the licensee with accountancy law and rules as well as professional ethics.

Tennessee also requires CPAs to earn at least 40 hours in technical subjects including accounting, governmental accounting, auditing, governmental auditing, business law, economics, finance, information technology, management services, regulatory ethics, specialized knowledge, statistics, or taxes. Accounting professionals can receive credit for 50% of the total hours spent instructing, up to three hours credit for each hour of class time.

Authorship credit can be earned as CPE, provided that a copy of the published article or book shall be made available to the Board if CPE records are audited. The maximum credit for published articles/books is 50% of total hours. For those CPAs who are studying ay a university or college for accounting credit, one semester hour equals 15 CPE hours.


*Content Source: BLS Data

Federal regulations were passed in 2007 that makes it possible for CPAs to continue to work with pre-existing clients, even if the client or the CPA move themselves or their business across state lines. Since this regulation has taken effect, it has been seen as a generally great option for CPAs to work in non-licensing states, regardless of the history of their relationship to a client. 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, a state agency from 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 Tennessee 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 Arkansas. 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.