Guide to Becoming a CPA in Florida: Steps to Follow

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Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a significant milestone for many accounting professionals. In Florida, the path to CPA licensure involves a series of educational, examination, and experience requirements. This guide provides a detailed, step-by-step process to help you understand and navigate the journey to becoming a CPA in the Sunshine State.

Step 1: Meet the Educational Requirements

To become a CPA in Florida, you must meet specific educational criteria. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. The degree does not necessarily have to be in accounting, but you will need to complete a certain number of accounting and business courses.
  2. Florida requires CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework. This often means obtaining additional credits beyond a typical bachelor’s degree, such as through a master’s program or additional coursework.
  3. Within the 150 semester hours, you must complete:
    • 36 semester hours in accounting courses above the elementary level, including auditing, financial accounting, cost accounting, and taxation.
    • 39 semester hours in general business courses, including business law, ethics, and information systems.

Read more about How to become a CPA in Florida

Step 2: Apply to Take the CPA Exam

Once you meet the educational requirements, the next step is to apply for the Uniform CPA Examination.

  1. Apply to the Florida Board of Accountancy (BOA) to determine your eligibility. You will need to provide transcripts and other documentation to verify your education.
  2. The application and examination fees can be substantial. Be prepared to pay for the initial application fee and the individual fees for each section of the CPA exam.
  3. After your application is approved, you will receive an NTS, which allows you to schedule your exam sections.

Step 3: Pass the Uniform CPA Examination

The Uniform CPA Exam consists of four sections, which you can take in any order:

  1. Covers auditing processes, ethics, and professional responsibilities.
  2. Focuses on business concepts, including corporate governance, economic concepts, financial management, and information technology.
  3. Involves financial accounting and reporting frameworks for businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and government entities.
  4. Encompasses ethics, professional and legal responsibilities, and federal taxation.

You must pass all four sections within an 18-month rolling period, achieving a score of at least 75 on each section.

Step 4: Gain Required Work Experience

In Florida, CPA candidates must complete relevant work experience to be eligible for licensure.

  1. You need at least one year (equivalent to 2,000 hours) of work experience in accounting. This experience must be verified by a licensed CPA.
  2. Your experience must be supervised and verified by an active, licensed CPA. The experience can be gained in public accounting, private industry, government, or academia.

Step 5: Apply for CPA Licensure

After passing the CPA exam and fulfilling the work experience requirement, you can apply for your CPA license.

  1. Apply through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). You will need to provide proof of your education, exam scores, and work experience.
  2. There is a fee associated with applying for your CPA license. Ensure you include payment with your application.
  3. Florida requires candidates to pass an ethics exam, which focuses on professional conduct and ethical standards in the accounting profession.

Step 6: Maintain Your CPA License

Once you become a licensed CPA in Florida, you must adhere to continuing education requirements to maintain your license.

  1. Florida CPAs must complete 80 hours of CPE every two years, including four hours of ethics training.
  2. Renew your CPA license biennially through the DBPR. Ensure you meet the CPE requirements and pay the renewal fee to keep your license active.

Conclusion

Becoming a CPA in Florida is a rigorous process that requires dedication, education, and practical experience. By following this step-by-step guide, you can navigate the requirements and achieve your goal of becoming a licensed CPA. The journey may be challenging, but the rewards of a CPA designation, including increased career opportunities and professional recognition, make it a worthwhile endeavor.

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