Washington, DC CPA Requirements

How To Become a CPA in the District of Columbia: Step By Step Guide

washington-dc-cpa-exam-requirementsLearn How to Become a Licensed Certified Public Accountant In Washington, DC

By virtue of being the United States capital, the District of Columbia offers some of the best employment opportunities for licensed and Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). As the capital, it is home to all three branches of the government and many international organizations.

Best known as Washington DC, the District of Columbia has an abundance of government jobs related to education, finance, and research.

Certified Public Accountants can work in government agencies in the district and the many international organizations. Accountants can also find employment opportunities in the education, finance, and research sectors.

The District of Columbia has several strict requirements to become a CPA that can be confusing. Don’t worry though. We’ll examine all of the DC CPA requirements along with the steps to take the CPA exam in Washington DC and become a CPA in the District of Columbia.


Basic Requirements For CPA Certification in Washington, DC

CPA candidates must meet these basic Washington, DC CPA requirements to take the exam and become a certified public accountant:

  • Be at least 18 years
  • Have a social security number
  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree with at least 150 credit hours
  • Accrue 1-year experience focusing on accounting

The District of Columbia does not have a citizenship or DC resident requirement, so you can take the exam in DC even if you don’t live there.


Washington, D.C. CPA Certification Education Requirements

The District of Columbia is like other states as it requires CPA candidates to meet basic education requirements to be allowed to sit for the uniform CPA exam. The board requires all applicants to attain a minimum of 150 semester hours of college-level education.

The coursework should meet the board’s standards which include:

  • 3 semester hours in financial accounting
  • 3 semester hours in commercial law
  • 3 semester hours in Auditing
  • 3 semester hours in Cost Accounting
  • Federal income taxes – 3 semester hours

Besides, the District of Columbia Board of Accountancy requires prospective candidates to complete at least 12 hours in business-related courses such as Management, Business Ethics, marketing, Business communications, Economics, and Statistics.

Education should also be from an accredited college or university. Likewise, one of the accrediting agencies, such as the D.C Education Licensure Commission, should be accredited to the college transcripts.

One thing to keep in mind is that your college credits must be approved by the DC Board in order to count. Contact them to ensure your education meets the Washington DC CPA requirements before start applying for the CPA exam.


District of Columbia CPA Exam Requirements

After you fulfill the minimum education requirements, you can apply to take the uniform four-section CPA exam. The application process is pretty simple. First, you will need to fill out the application forms and submit them to the DC Board of Accountancy. Second, you will need to submit your college transcripts, ID, and other documents for the board to approve.

After the board reviews your documents and approves your eligibility, you are cleared to schedule an exam section of your choice through NASBA. Keep in mind that your NTS is only good for 6 months, so don’t apply to take all four sections at the same time.

Instead, only sign up for what you want to take in the next 6 months. Otherwise, you might have to pay some extra fees when you NTS expires.

DC CPA Exam Costs & Fees

To schedule the CPA exam, candidates must pay the CPA exam fee for the section they intend to take. The CPA exam costs $743 plus an initial application fee. Students re-siting the exam must pay a $65 re-examination fee.

  • 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: $175*

The application fee includes a $110 refundable license fee.


Washington, DC CPA License Requirements

The District of Columbia Board of Accountancy offers two different types of CPA credentials: CPA license and CPA certificate.

CPA License

A CPA license allows you to practice in public accounting, sign legal documents like tax returns, and perform audit services. None of these services are allowed for certificate holders.

CPA candidates seeking a CPA license in DC must fulfill these additional CPA requirements:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree
  • Pass all four CPA exam sections with a score of at least 75
  • Submit paperwork to the board, including license application and transcripts
  • Show proof of 1-year work experience majoring in accountancy
  • Pay the $100 certification fee

Applicants who hold a CPA license in other states can qualify for a CPA license in the District of Columbia only if they hold a valid and current CPA license from a jurisdiction whose licensure requirements are similar to the District of Columbia. Those whose CPA license is from other jurisdictions that don’t meet Washington DC’s licensure requirements must select the ‘Endorsement’ under the licensure option.

Licensed CPAs must also satisfy continuing professional education requirements. The CPE requirement includes 80 hours of CPE classes every two years.

Unlike other states, the District of Columbia does not require students to sit and pass Ethics for CPA license.

CPA Certificate

CPA candidates can opt for the less restrictive CPA certificate if they don’t plan on working in public accounting. This option allows them to use the moniker CPA on business cards and titles, but removes the right to practice.

CPA certificate holders also don’t have to participate in CPE every year to maintain their certifications.

Work Experience Requirements

Passing the CPA exam is the first step to becoming a certified public accountant in DC. After you pass the exam you will need to complete 1 year of work experience supervised by a licensed CPA.

To apply for a CPA license, applicants must show proof of 1-year experience in public accounting, private industry, or government agency. The Work experience can include providing any business service or advice in accounting, attestation, compilation, financial advisory, or taxation.

CPA certificate applicants are not required to fulfill these work experience requirements.


Washington, DC CPA License Application & Renewal

Once you have successfully completed all of the requirements to get your CPA license, your job isn’t done yet. You will need to renew your license each year otherwise it will expire and become invalid.

The District of Columbia CPA license expires every even year on December 31. The renewal process if quite simple. You just have to log on to your DCRA account and fill out the renewal form.

Once the form is complete, you can submit your CPE credits for approval and pay the $150 CPA license renewal fee.

Washington DC CPA Salary

Certified and licensed CPA holders can find a wide range of practice areas in the District of Columbia. Job opportunities are not limited to government accounting. Likewise, CPA holders can work in large and small businesses in the private sector.

Licensed CPA holders can earn as much as $100,000 a year in the District of Columbia, one of the country’s highest average base pay.


Additional District of Columbia CPA Resources

Here are some more resources to learn how to take the CPA exam in Washington DC and become a certified public accountant.

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