Learn How to Become a Licensed Certified Public Accountant In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania, nicknamed the Keystone State, is known for its steel and coal industries. It is also the nation’s largest producers of mushrooms.
Ranked #11 in career opportunities, PA is a perfect state to start your accounting career. With its emphasis on industry and manufacturing, there are plenty of exciting accounting career choices in PA.
The first jump towards your accounting career in Pennsylvania starts with completing the minimum qualifications. Let’s take a look at the PA CPA requirements to sit for the CPA exam and become a licensed CPA in state of Pennsylvania.
Basic Requirements For CPA Certification in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy requires CPA candidates to meet the following requirements to take the Uniform CPA Examination and apply for the license:
- Must be at least 18 years old
- Pennsylvania residency: required
- Must have a valid social security number
- Must complete a bachelor’s degree with 150 credit hours
- US Citizenship: not required
Pennsylvania does not require CPA candidates to be a US citizen, but you will need to be a PA resident to take the exam. These qualifications make it difficult for international students and candidates to sit for the exam in PA.
Pennsylvania CPA Education Requirements
Aspiring CPA candidates must meet several basic education requirements to sit for the CPA exam in Pennsylvania. The education requirements include a bachelor’s degree in accounting with at least 120 credit hours of coursework.
You should complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university including 24 semester hours in accounting courses including:
- Internal Auditing
- Management advisory
- Compliance and operational audits
- Taxation business law
- Income and tax return preparation
The rest of the hours can be in any course, but it is advisable they be accounting-related as this will prepare you for the exam. Keep in mind, you are allowed to take the exam with 120 credit hours, but you will need 150 to get licensed.
To sit for the exam, you should have completed your bachelor’s degree within 30 days before the first exam. Most importantly, the credits should be from an accredited institution by an accreditation agency or body recognized by the US Education Department. If you have a foreign university degree, then one of these four agencies should evaluate your work:
- Josef Silny & Associates Inc.
- Foreign Academic Credentials Services
- NASBA International Evaluation Services
- Education Credential Evaluators
It’s a good idea to check with the PA State Board before you complete your application to make sure your education meets the Pennsylvania CPA requirements.
Pennsylvania CPA Exam Requirements
Candidates who are state residents and complete a bachelor’s degree with the minimum education requirements qualify to take the uniform CPA examination in Pennsylvania.
You are eligible to sit for the exam 30 days before your actual graduation date, so if you want to take the exam early, you can start the application process while you are still a college student.
The CPA exam application process is simple. You will need to fill out your application on the NASBA website and submit your:
- College transcripts
- Government Issued ID
- Proof of PA Residency
- Social Security Number
- Application fees
After your application is approved, you will receive a Notice to Schedule that is valid for 6 months. This allows you to schedule a testing date at one of the PA Prometric testing centers in:
- Clarks Summit
The exam is the same as the CPA examination taken in other states. It comprises four sections, Attestation and Audit (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Regulation (REG), and Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR).
Most CPA candidates take a CPA refresher course course to prepare for the exam regardless how long they’ve been out of school. There’s so much information to retain on each CPA exam section that it’d be impossible to memorize it all without a study guide.
You must pass all sections with a score of 75 within 18 months. You can schedule more than one section each testing window, but it’s not advisable. If you don’t pass, you will have to wait until the next window to retest the section.
PA CPA Exam Costs & Fees
The cost to take the CPA exam in Pennsylvania is approximately $899.96, not including registration and application fees.
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD) $224.99
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) $224.99
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) $224.99
- Regulation (REG) $224.99
- Application Fee: $105
First-time candidates pay an application fee of $105 plus an examination fee after applying. Those who are re-taking the exam have to pay a registration fee and an examination fee.
Pennsylvania CPA License Requirements
Pennsylvania has a few additional qualifications that must be met after you take the CPA exam before you are eligible to become licensed. Most notably, you will need to complete your education requirement of at least 150 credit hours of college coursework and a work experience program.
In order to qualify a certified public accountant license in Pennsylvania, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- Complete a bachelor’s degree with 150-hours of coursework
- Pass the CPA exam
- Complete a 1-year work experience program
- Pay the required licensure fees
The CPA license application is easy. You can submit all of your documents including transcripts and work experience proof to the state board through their online application process.
You will also need to pay the certification/license fees.
AICPA Ethics Exam
Pennsylvania does not require CPA candidates to take an ethics exam to become licensed.
Work Experience Requirements
Pennsylvania requires CPA candidates to complete 3,200 hours of full-time work experience before they qualify to become licensed.
Candidates should have accounting work experience, which may occur in the private sector or government supervised by a certified public accountant in the state.
Interestingly in Pennsylvania, if you have a Master’s degree in business or accounting, the experience can be shortened to 1,600 hours. It is important to note that experience gained under the following circumstances does not count towards your certification.
- Experience gained in a partnership as a partner.
- Self-employment experience
- Work experience under the supervision of unlicensed CPA
- Experience gained at a different company outside the firm of your supervising CPA
Once your work experience program is complete, your supervising CPA must complete the application form and sign off on your CPA work requirement.
Pennsylvania CPA License Application & Renewal
Once you successfully obtain your CPA license, you will need to maintain and renew it each year. The CPA renewal application is done through the PA state board website. You will need to submit the following documents each year:
- CPA renewal application
- CPE certificates
- CPA renewal fees
PA also requires active CPAs to complete continuing professional education (CPE) each year to maintain their license. Pennsylvania’s CPE requirement is 80 hours after every two years, with at least 20 hours completed each year. Four of the 80 hours should be in accounting ethics, with 24 hours in auditing and accounting.
Pennsylvania CPA Salary
The average Pennsylvania CPA salary is $67,263 according to the US Department of Labor. This salary varies based on location with accountant in the major metros of Philadelphia earning the highest in the state.
Additional Pennsylvania CPA Resources
Below are a few resources you can use to learn how to take the CPA exam in Pennsylvania and become a certified public accountant.