Whether you need to obtain your initial CPA license, or are a licensed CPA needing to practice in a new location, we’ve outlined the steps you need to take:

Step 1: Determine where you plan to take the exam and complete the requirements for that state.

First, determine where you plan to sit for the CPA exam, and then make sure you obtain the appropriate education and other requirements needed to qualify in that state. While this may sound pretty simple, the tricky part is that the education requirements to sit for the CPA exam are different for every state. For example, some states require 120 total semester hours to qualify; while others require 150 total hours. There are also more narrow educational requirements specific to each state such as 33 semester hours in accounting and 36 semester hours in business. A different state might require 33 semester hours in accounting and have no minimum semester hours for business. There are also other requirements that states enforce regarding age, residency, etc. You should be sure to review requirements and criteria for states you are considering for application.

If you’re already pretty far along in your education, you can determine which state’s CPA exam education and other requirements most closely match your personal profile and apply for the exam in that state. Each state board of accountancy provides this information on their individual websites.  You can also find the state-specific exam requirements for most states here.

However, the easiest and fastest way to find out where you are likely to qualify for the CPA exam and CPA license is by using NASBA’s Accountancy Licensing Library (ALL). ALL features a Research Tool that allows you to select the search criteria that match your information and then generates a report showing which states enforce those requirements. You can perform an unlimited number of searches for one day for only $10.

> Learn more about the Accountancy Licensing Library (ALL) and its Research Tool

What would really help you in this process is to determine ahead of time in which state you plan to become licensed as a CPA. Finding out the license requirements early can help ensure a smooth path to becoming a CPA, but we realize that’s not always an option. Where you take the exam is not dependent on where you intend to practice. CPA exam test scores can be transferred to any state for the purpose of getting a CPA license.

Step 2: Now you are ready to sit for the CPA Exam.

Once you have completed the education requirements for the state where you plan to sit for the CPA exam, you should review the Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Bulletin. This document is a great resource that provides information about the exam process (how to apply, scheduling your exam, taking the exam, receiving your scores, etc.), and exam content (preparing for the exam, length and formats, specifications and sample question types, etc.).

After reviewing the Candidate Bulletin, you should view a tutorial and take the sample tests available on the AICPA website.

Once you’re ready to apply to take the CPA exam, come back to the CPA exam section of our website to get all of the specific information you need.

Step 3: Determine where you plan to obtain your CPA license.

After successfully passing all four sections of the CPA exam, the next step is to complete the other requirements for obtaining a CPA license in the state in which you plan to ultimately practice as a CPA. Just like requirements for the CPA exam, requirements (like education and work experience) for a CPA license vary from state to state.

For example, many states require at least one year of public accounting work experience to qualify for a CPA license; while others accept different types of work experience in place of public accounting experience (such as teaching, self-employment and part-time employment). To add to the complexity, some states have more specific requirements, such as a specified amount of auditing work experience.

If you reside and work in the United States, then you are required to be licensed in the state where you live and practice. Most states now offer Mobility privileges that allow CPAs to service clients across state borders, but those laws can take some delicate navigation as well.

> Watch a video about the process of becoming a CPA
> Get help determining where to get a CPA license