How To Become a CPA in Massachusetts: Step By Step Guide
Massachusetts, often called the Bay State, is known for its waterways and port towns like Boston and Plymouth. It has a GDP of more than $500 billion makes it one of the biggest in the country.
Massachusetts is an exceptional state to start your professional career as an accountant. Ranked #2 in education and healthcare, MA has an excellent standard of living along with great career opportunities in a variety of sectors.
In order to start your public accounting career in Massachusetts, you’ll need to meet the minimum qualifications. Let’s examine the MA CPA requirements and the steps you’ll need to take to sit for the CPA exam and become a CPA in Massachusetts.
Minimum Massachusetts CPA Requirements for Certification
CPA candidate hopefuls must complete the following standard requirements to take the CPA exam and become a licensed certified public accountant in Massachusetts:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a social security number
- Have a bachelors’ degree (120 credits)
- Complete 1-year work experience
- Massachusetts residency: not required
- US Citizenship: not required
Massachusetts has relatively simple requirements. CPA candidates do not have to be state residents or US citizens. Candidates are, however, required to have a social security number and be at least 18 years old.
Massachusetts CPA Certification Education Requirements
The Massachusetts Board of accountancy requires aspiring CPAs to meet some specific education requirements before taking the CPA exam. Candidates are allowed to sit for the exam with only 120 credit hours of college course work, but they must complete at least 150 in order to become certified.
Of these 150 semester hours of college or university education, candidates must follow one of the following three education pathways.
Option 1 – Graduate Degree in Accounting
Aspiring CPAs must have earned a graduate degree in accounting from an accredited college or university. If your degree program is approved by the Board, no other education requirements need to be met.
Option 2 – Graduate Degree in Business
One must have earned a graduate degree in accounting, business administration, or law from a regionally accredited institution.
The degree should include 30 semester hours of accounting at the undergraduate level or 18 semester hours of accounting at the graduate level.
The degree should also include coursework in the following:
- Financial accounting
- Management accounting
Option 3 – Undergraduate Degree
Aspiring candidates should have earned a bachelor’s degree supplemented by 30 semester hours of accounting courses. Coverage should include the following coursework:
21-credits in accounting including
- Financial accounting
- Cost Accounting
9-credit hours in general business coursework
- Information systems
- Business law
Since there are multiple education pathways to meet the Massachusetts CPA requirements, it’s a suggested that you verify your educational credits with the MA State Board before you apply to sit for the exam.
This way you will not have the possibility of being rejected by the Board based on not meeting the educational CPA exam requirements causing your application process to take longer.
Massachusetts CPA Exam Requirements
CPA candidates who meed the education requirements of a bachelor’s degree with at least 120 credit hours are eligible to sit for the Massachusetts CPA exam.
Taking the exam has to be the most challenging step to becoming a Certified Public Accountant in Massachusetts. This is in part because it is one of the most challenging tests that requires adequate preparation.
Those who feel confident about taking the exam can do so by applying through the NASBA’s CPA Examination Services website.
As part of the application process be sure to submit all the necessary documents indicating education credentials achieved. If you are still in school, ask the college to send them the official transcripts.
In addition to meeting the educational CPA requirements and sending in your college transcripts, examination fees must be paid to sit for the CPA exam.
MA CPA Exam Costs & Fees
The cost of taking all the four CPA examination is $743. In addition, candidates must pay an initial $195 application fee. Here is a list of CPA exam fees in the state of Massachusetts:
- 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: $195
The examination fee depends on the number of sections you are taking.
Massachusetts CPA License Requirements
Obtaining the coveted Massachusetts CPA license is pretty simple and straightforward if aspiring CPA’s meet the following requirements:
- Fulfill education requirements including 150-semester hours
- Have a bachelor’s degree
- Taken and passed the Uniform CPA Exam
- Completed verified work experience
All candidates that meet the following requirements can apply for the Massachusetts CPA license to the Massachusetts Board of Accountancy.
Work Experience Requirements
Upon taking the uniform CPA exam, the next step to becoming a certified public accountant in Massachusetts entails accruing sufficient work experience. The Massachusetts Board of Accountancy requires aspiring CPA’s to accrue at least one year of full-time public accounting work experience.
The work experience must:
- Include at least 1,000 hours of reporting experience in full disclosure of financial statements
- Have no more than 300 hours in full disclosure compilations
- Carried under the supervision of a licensed CPA
- Be attested via a letter by a CPA partner
Massachusetts does allow CPA candidates to accrue their work experience in a governmental or academic settings. Thus, if you become a governmental accountant, college professor, or CPA exam tutor, you will be able to count this experience towards your CPA work experience requirement.
Massachusetts CPA License Application & Renewal
Massachusetts requires a CPA license holder to keep their CPA skills fresh and current by completing the mandatory Continuing Professional Education.
MA CPE Requirements
Massachusetts licensed certified public accountants must complete at least 80 hours of CPA every two years.
Massachusetts CPA Salary
The average Massachusetts CPA salary is $84,612 according to the MA State Labor Department. Boston being a financial hub offers some of the highest career benefits with an average CPA wage $89,646 in Boston, MA. This average depends on the level of professional experience and credentials.
Massachusetts is home to s some of the best working environments for licensed, certified public accountants. The state’s capital Boston plays hosts to one of the nations’ premier financial markets. Likewise, the greater suburban area plays host to some of the biggest companies and organizations.
Licensed CPA’s can work in managerial accounting departments tasked with streamlining operations and performing audits. Likewise, they can work in forensic accounting departments to help in curbing financial fraud.
Many CPA’s tend to pursue careers In finance given the employment opportunities always on offer. For instance, some pan out as financial consultants or pursue careers as chief financial officers.
Steps to Become a CPA in Massachusetts
Here are the main steps to become a certified public accountant in Massachusetts according to the MA State Board:
- Get an education in the state.
- Take and pass the uniform CPA exam
- Gain the necessary accountancy work experience
- Apply for the Massachusetts CPA license
- Continue Education in the state
Additional Massachusetts CPA Resources
Here is a list of helpful resources to take the CPA exam in Massachusetts and become a certified public accountant.