Illinois CPA Requirements

How To Become a CPA in Illinois: Step By Step Guide

illinois-cpa-exam-requirementsLearn How to Become a Licensed Certified Public Accountant In Illinois

Illinois, also known as the Land of Lincoln, is home to the biggest city in the Midwest: Chicago. Likewise, it is home to one of the Midwest’s biggest economies, hosting more than 30 fortune 500 companies, including Boeing, Walgreens, and McDonald’s.

With all of this economic and financial activity, it’s a great place for certified public accountants to work.

It isn’t that easy to become a CPA in Illinois, however. Illinois has several different education pathways to meet your CPA qualifications that you must be aware of. Let’s look at the IL CPA requirements to take the CPA exam and what you will need to do to become a licensed CPA in Illinois.


Basic Requirements For CPA Certification in Illinois

CPA candidates must complete the following CPA requirements in order to take the CPA exam and become a certified public accountant in Illinois:

  • Must be at least 18 years
  • Must have a bachelor’s degree with at least 150 credit hours
  • Show proof of 1-year experience majoring in accountancy
  • US Citizenship: not required
  • Illinois Residency: not required
  • Social security number: not required

Unlike other states, you don’t need to be a U.S citizen or Illinois resident to become a certified public accountant in Illinois. There is also no social security number requirement.


Illinois CPA Certification Education Requirements

To be eligible to take the CPA exam in Illinois, candidates must complete a bachelor or masters degree with 150 college credit hours from an accredited university or college in the U.S. The Illinois CPA educational requirements can be met by any of the following degree programs:

Masters in Accounting Degree including:

  • Graduate Degree in Accounting from school accredited by AACSB or ACBSP

Masters in Business Degree including:

  • Accounting courses: 24 credit hours at undergrad level or 15 hours at graduate level.
  • Required subjects: financial accounting, auditing, taxation, managerial accounting

Bachelors Degree in Business including:

  • Accounting courses: 24 credit hours at undergrad or graduate level, including financial accounting, auditing, taxation, managerial accounting
  • Business courses: 24 credit hours (undergrad or grad level)

Bachelors Degree General Studies including:

  • Accounting courses: 24 credit hours including at least one course in: financial accounting, auditing, taxation, or managerial accounting
  • Business courses: 24 credit hours

Candidates who have graduated from a college or university outside the U.S must have their education credentials evaluated by the NASBA. Once the education requirements are met, CPA candidates must submit the online Domestic Credentials Evaluation application for approval to take the CPA Exam.

If you did go to college outside of Illinois or the US, make sure to clear your educational background with NASBA before you apply to take the CPA exam. If your education does not meet the Illinois CPA requirements, you won’t be allowed to sit for the exam and your fees will be forfeited.


Illinois CPA Exam Requirements

Now that you’ve met the CPA education requirements and are above 18-years old, you are eligible to apply to take the CPA exam in Illinois.

In order to apply for the exam, you must create an account with the Illinois board of examiners. After your account is created, you must submit the following info to the state board:

  • Education Transcripts
  • Government Issued Identification
  • Pre-evaluation
  • Domestic evaluation
  • Foreign evaluation
  • International qualification exam

Likewise, prospective CPA candidates must submit their final transcripts showing completion of education requirements. The original and official transcripts must be sealed in envelopes and delivered to the Illinois Board of Examiners. If the transcripts are copied or opened in any way, the board will not accept them.

After meeting all the education requirements and submitting all the required documents, applying and scheduling the CPA exam is the next step. Prospective CPA candidates must pay the Uniform exam costs, which vary depending on the section one is taking.

IL CPA Exam Costs & Fees

The cost of taking the four CPA exam sections in Illinois is $743 plus an initial $120 application fee. The re-examination fee varies depending on the number of sections one is taking.

  • 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: $120

First-time candidates must also be ready to pay a special credential evaluation fee, which varies between $175 to $250.

Likewise, CPA exam candidates must apply for the exam sections they wish to take within six months. In Illinois, the Notice to Schedule (NTS) expires after six months, so don’t apply to take more exam sections than you think you will be able to sit for in a 6-month period.


Illinois CPA License Requirements

Illinois CPA licensure process is pretty simple after candidates meet education requirements and pass the uniform CPA exam. First time CPA license candidates must meet the following requirements to be eligible for a CPA license:

  • Earned a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 150-credit hours
  • Have academic credentials certified by an accrediting agency
  • Taken and passed the CPA exam
  • Taken and passed the AICPA Ethics exam
  • Worked in an accounting Job for 1-year

Upon meeting the requirements, CPA license candidates must send their application with the required documents to the Illinois Department of financial and professional regulation.

Illinois CPA Ethics Exam

In addition to taking the full CPA exam, candidates must pass the Illinois Ethics Exam to be eligible for CPA licensure.

The exam is part of an 11-hour self-study course. The ethics exam is an open book exam of which candidates must attain not less than 90% for a pass.

Work Experience Requirements

CPA candidates must accrue at least 1-year experience for their certification after passing the Uniform CPA exam and the Ethics exam. The work experience can be obtained by working in a government, public accountancy, or private accountancy covering any of the following areas:

  • Accounting
  • Attestation
  • Management Advisory
  • Financial Advisory
  • Tax Consultation

Work experience must be completed under the mentorship of a licensed certified public accountant.


Illinois CPA License Application & Renewal

Once you finish your CPA journey and become a licensed CPA in Illinois, you will need to maintain your license each year.

Licensed certified public accountants are required complete 120 hours of CPE (continuing professional education) every three years, with four hours covering ethics. These CPE credits must be kept and submitted to the IL State Board each year with your license renewal application and renewal fees.

The renewal process is simple. You can fill out the annual renewal forms on your State Board account through the State Board website. There will be a portal to submit all required documents as well.

Illinois CPA Salary

The average CPA salary in Illinois is $77,000 for licensed certified public accountants and auditors. While pay varies depending on location, company, and organization, the highest CPA salaries in Illinois are in Chicago due to the high cost of living.

There are many employment opportunities in Illinois for certified public accountants. CPAs can work in a variety of field from public accounting to forensic accountancy and management accounting.

These jobs include auditing finances to uncover fraud, exploring how to make systems more efficient, and preparing tax returns for companies and individuals. Illinois is a great place to work as a CPA.


Additional Illinois CPA Resources

Here are several resources you can use to learn how to take the CPA exam in Illinois and become a certified public accountant.

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