How to Become a CPA in Tennessee

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) requires a person to meet certain educational requirements as outlined by each state’s Board of Accountancy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), most accountants need to complete a four-year degree at an accredited university in order to practice. Additionally, CPAs need 30 hours above and beyond the bachelor’s degree requirement in 46 states as well as Washington, D.C. Some schools offer a combined degree that allows someone to hold a master’s degree, which may meet state requirements for becoming a licensed CPA, but a master’s degree isn’t usually necessary. As noted, each state varies on specific CPA requirements. The following outlines how to become a CPA in Tennessee.

Education & Certification
Tennessee requires CPAs to complete 150 total hours of education in accounting classes including a bachelor’s degree. The breakdown for the educational requirements is as follows:

  • 30 semester hours must be in accountancy courses including 24 upper-division hours.
  • 24 semester hours must be in business courses including 12 upper-division hours.
  • Candidates must pass an ethics exam with 90% or better administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
  • Candidates must also pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

The TN Board of Accountancy monitors all applications for CPA certification. Once a candidate completes all of the required education and exams, he or she will be sent a packet for application. However, candidates must also complete experience requirements as outlined below in order to apply.

Experience Requirement
Applicants for a CPA license in Tennessee must have completed at least one year of experience but no more than three within the last 10 years prior to applying for a license. They must also have completed at least 2,000 hours of work experience, which can include tax advice, financial advising duties or other financial management experience as a private practitioner or under the auspices of a larger financial institution. Accountants must submit proof of their employment along with their application in order to be granted CPA licensure.

Reciprocal & Other Licensing
Tennessee offers reciprocal licensing to CPAs from other states or those who have taken the CPA exam in other states and wish to have their scores transferred. The requirements for these individuals are the same as for residents of Tennessee. Reciprocal licensees must hold a valid CPA license from their home state and meet the relevant education and experience requirements. Foreign CPAs should contact the appropriate credentialing boards listed on Tennessee’s website for further information.