A lot of people think an accounting degree is required to become a CPA. But in reality, this isn’t true. Having an accounting degree isn’t mandatory to become a CPA, but it can make things easier.
Many licensed, practicing CPAs have degrees in things like finance or economics, so becoming a CPA without an accounting degree is indeed possible. But you’re going to need to pay very close attention to your state’s requirements.
Generally, there are three big requirements you need to meet to become a licensed CPA: education, examination, and experience. In most cases, fulfilling the education requirement requires completing at least 150 credit hours at an accredited college or university before taking the exam. Exact pre-exam requirements vary from state to state, but the AICPA recommends 150 credit hours and the majority of states have turned that recommendation into rule.
Some states don’t have the 150 credit hour requirement, but there’s usually some kind of catch. Vermont and New Hampshire, for instance, only require 120 credit hours before sitting for the exam, but you need to complete 150 to become licensed. Alaska has special rules for non-accounting majors. There, you can sit for the CPA exam without an accounting degree if you have at least a year’s experience working in public accounting under a CPA.
Now, this is where things get more complicated. Each state has its own requirements for how candidates fulfill those credit hours. For example, some states require more accounting credits than others. If you haven’t completed 150 credits, you’ll need to take more classes to fulfill your state’s specific requirements. For example, a finance major would very likely need to take some accounting classes. Be sure to check the rules in the state you want to take the exam in.
Need to make up some credits? There are a few ways to go about it. Some candidates choose to get a second bachelor’s degree or a master’s. Others choose to take classes at their local community college. Again, just be sure to check the requirements in your state because some states have restrictions on where you can earn your credits.
Another important thing you’re going to need to look into is your state’s rules about work experience. Non-accounting majors might have a harder time fulfilling those requirements. Some states are quite flexible about what counts as relevant work experience and can potentially include things like private accounting, teaching, or volunteer work. Part-time work is allowable in some places. Some states might require you to have a CPA as a supervisor, while others don’t. It all comes down to which state you want to take the exam in.
If you’re a non-accounting major who wants to become a CPA, don’t feel discouraged. It is possible, just be sure to check with your state’s Board of Accountancy to find out exactly what you have to do. It’s always a good idea to spend some time choosing the best cpa review course. Becoming a licensed CPA involves meeting a lot requirements, so it’s very important you know exactly what you need to do to meet your goal.