What Types of Work Experience are Required for the CPA License?

If you are pursuing licensure as a CPA, you know you must meet educational requirements and take the exam, but you also must have certain kinds of work experience. Not all employment satisfies this requisite, and some states differ on the amount and kind of experience you need. Here is some information to help you better understand the work requirements for the CPA license.

Resource: Top 10 Online Accounting Degree Programs

You Must Have a Qualified Verifier

The person who is responsible for documenting your experience is called a verifier. Generally, this must be someone who currently holds a Certified Public Accountant license and who is your direct supervisor. Some states like Colorado will accept a verifier with an equivalent certification, but this means the verifier is from a country that has a reciprocation agreement with the United States. Some states allow your verifier to be from another country as long as he or she holds a license in the United States. That means the verifier does not have to be your supervisor in those instances. Even so, the verifier must meet his or her responsibilities. It is the job of this person to make certain that the experience you have helps you obtain skills you need to be competent and to document the experience for the licensing board. Some of the assessment the verifier makes may be based upon an interview with you.

State Requirements About Work Types Vary

Some states only recognize work you did as a public accountant. That means work done for a company as an internal accountant or a management accountant will not satisfy the licensure board in many states. Pennsylvania, however, allows experience in management, compilation, consulting advisory, attestation and tax accounting in addition to public accounting experience. In some cases, teaching or other employment in academia will meet the requisites. Washington State says the experience must take place in a work environment and contain tasks that allow you to develop required competencies. The object of defining the types of work that is appropriate is to make certain you will acquire these pre-determined competencies.

What Are the Competencies?

You must be able to assess whether a client has met the declared objectives. You also must know how to assemble documentation that supports your analysis and any conclusions you draw from it. You must understand and be proficient at risk assessment. In addition, you have to develop critical thinking and innovative problem solving skills, and then be able to effectively communicate your findings.

How Much Work Experience is required?

The amount of work experience you need is determined by each state’s Board of Accountancy. That means you will have to check the requirements for your state. Generally the experience is quantified by length of service or by clock hours. Many states ask that applicants have a year of experience, but equate the hours differently. In Washington State, Arizona, Louisiana and Colorado, for instance, you must have one year of experience. That experience in Washington, Arizona and Louisiana translates to 2,000 hours. In Colorado you must have 1,800 hours. Pennsylvania requires a year of experience as well, but sets the bar at 1,600 hours. California requires two years of experience. In most cases, this experience can be obtained before or after you take the licensing exam.

In general, it is up to you, the applicant, to ensure you are meeting the standards of the Board of Accountancy of the state where you want to become licensed. You must be certain that your verifier meets the requisites set forth and that your job experiences will qualify as sufficient. There are three “E’s” to getting your CPA license. You must have the Education, take the Exam and get the kinds of Experience that will qualify you for CPA licensure.