Learn How to Become a Licensed Certified Public Accountant In Florida
Florida is a tourism hub with one of the top five biggest economies in the U.S. specializing in agriculture, healthcare, research, and aerospace industries like commercial space travel. It’s no surprise that CPAs and other financial advisors growth is poised to grow by 10% between now and 2026 in the sunshine state.
At the heart of the strong economy is an empire of certified public accountants (CPA) that help individuals and businesses handle much of the state’s business. With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S, Florida is arguably one of the best states for certified public accountants given the array of employment opportunities always up for grabs.
Becoming a CPA in Florida has some unique challenges and qualifications, however. Let’s look at the FL CPA requirements and steps you need to complete to take the CPA and become a licensed CPA in Florida.
Basic Requirements For CPA Certification in Florida
CPA candidates who want to take the CPA exam in Florida are required to meet these minimum CPA requirements before they are eligible to become a certified public accountant in Florida:
- Have a social security number
- Complete a bachelor’s with degree 120 credit hours
- Fulfill 1-year work experience in Accounting
Unlike in other states, there is no age limit required to becoming a certified public accountant in Florida. Likewise, you don’t need to be a Florida resident or U.S citizen to take the exam.
Florida CPA Certification Education Requirements
Anyone looking to become a certified public accountant in Florida must attain certain specific education requirements. The state requires applicants to show proof of 150-semester hours that culminates in a bachelor’s degree.
The education coursework must include:
- 24-hours of upper-level accounting, auditing, financial accounting, and taxes coursework
- 24 hours of general business education 21 hours at the upper level
- 6 semester hours of business law
Applicants who have their education in other countries must have their education credentials certified by an accrediting agency. Anyone who did not graduate from an accredited school can still sit for the CPA exam in the state if they show they have been accepted to a master’s degree and have completed 15-semester hours.
Something to keep in mind is that Florida only accepts educational credit from accredited institutions. This may be an issue for some international candidates. Contact the Florida State Board of Accountancy to see if your academic credits will qualify for the Florida CPA requirements before you apply for the CPA exam.
Also, Florida does participate in the international examination program nor does Florida count CPA exam study tools towards the college education credit requirements. Only accredited college classes are approved.
Florida CPA Exam Requirements
Florida allows you to sit for the CPA exam with only 120 credit hours of college courses. This means that you can take the CPA exam right after you graduate from college.
You will however need 150 credits in order to become licensed, but at least you can take the exam earlier.
After you’ve met the personal and educational requirements, you can apply to take the exam. First send in your transcripts, ID, and other required documents to the FL State Board for approval. Once you are approved, you can apply to take your first CPA exam section through your NASBA account on the NASBA website.
When you apply to take a section, you will need to pay the application and section fees. Once approved, you will receive a NTS document in the mail giving you permission to schedule a testing date on the Prometric website. Keep in mind that your NTS is only valid for 6 months. If you don’t schedule an exam during that period, you will have to pay extra fees and sign up again.
FL CPA Exam Costs & Fees
The cost of taking the CPA exam in Florida is $743 plus an initial $50 application fee. The exam fees are split as follows.
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD): $195.35
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): $176.25
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): $195.35
- Regulation (REG): $176.25
- Application Fee: $50
All four CPA exam sections must be taken within 18 months.
One is also considered a re-examination candidate if they previously applied for the exam and did not take it. Re-examination candidates can apply and sit for the CPA exam upon paying an application fee that varies between $60 and $105.
Florida CPA License Requirements
Specific requirements must be met for applicants to qualify for a Florida CPA License. For starters, applicants must provide evidence they have met all education requirements for licensure. In addition, one must pay the application fee and submit all the exam results.
CPA license applicants in Florida must
- Show proof of 150 credit hours from an accredited institution
- Show proof of accounting courses taken covering 36-semester units in the upper level
- Pass the Uniform CPA Exam
- Complete verified accounting work experience
- Pay the CPA License application fee
A CPA license application must be made within 3-years of passing the CPA exam. The application must also be made through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, upon which candidates receive an email verifying their application receipt.
The CPA license approval process normally takes three to six weeks. A successful application is confirmed through the DBPR account with the wall certificate sent immediately.
Florida requires CPA license holders to renew their certificates over two years. For a successful renewal, applicants must show proof of:
- Eight hours minimum in accounting and auditing
- Technical business Behavioral coursework (no more than 20 hours)
- Four hours minimum in ethics
AICPA Ethics Exam
Unlike other states, Florida does not require you to take the Ethics exam to qualify for a CPA license. However, prospective candidates must accrue sufficient work experience.
Work Experience Requirements
Upon passing all the four CPA exam sections, applicants must accrue at least 1-year work experience. The State Board requires applicants to accrue 2,080 hours of supervised work experience completed over 52 to 104 weeks.
The work experience must cover accountancy, attestation, compilation, financial advising, and taxation. A licensed CPA holder must sign off this experience.
Florida CPA License Application & Renewal
Once you finished your entire CPA journey and have become a CPA in Florida, you will need to maintain your license every year. Florida’s CPA licenses expire biannually on December 31 and will need to be renewed by their license holder.
You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to renew your license, however. The Florida renewal cycle starts on October 1, so you can renew it early.
The renewal process is easy. You simply log into your DBPR account and fill out the renewal forms and pay the renewal fees. One thing that has changed since 2011 is that CPE documentation is no longer required at renewal. Licensed CPAs in Florida are required to perform 40 hours of CPE each year including:
- 8 hours of accounting and auditing
- 4 hours of board-approved ethics
- Less than 20 hours of behavior subjects
Keep in mind, you are not required to submit the documentation to the FL Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Instead, you just need to keep your CPE documents on file as proof you completed them. The FL DBPR randomly audits CPE hours, so you may need your documentation in the future.
Florida CPA Salary
The average annual CPA salary for accountants in Florida stands at $72,000 and the average might be higher depending on work experience and where one is working.
Florida being one of the biggest economies in the U.S, offers some of the best employment opportunities for licensed, certified public accountants. A certified public accountant can work for businesses, non-profits, as well as governments, and individuals.
Additional Florida CPA Resources
Here is a list of resources to help learn how to take the CPA exam in Florida and become a certified public accountant.