Alaska may have its gold rush days long in the past, but it remains a vital center for all sorts of business and industry. Thus, there is a large demand for CPAs and other accountants. If you want to become a CPA and work in Alaska, there is a specific path that you must follow if you want your career to kick off on the strongest footing. This page is all about how to become a CPA in Alaska, so make sure to bookmark it for future reference.
The largest part of your CPA preparation is your education. You will want to have the strongest academic background you can possibly manage. Since Alaska has no residency requirements for its CPAs, you can freely pursue your education in another state. Alaska also allows aspiring CPAs to take their exam prior to completing an undergraduate degree, provided that you are 18 semester or 27 quarter hours away from graduation.
Nonetheless, Alaska does require that your transcripts reflect a certain curriculum. You will need to complete an undergrad degree with a major concentration in Accounting and 150 total undergraduate hours. If you choose to pursue your CPA licensure as a student in an MBA program, you will likewise need to reflect certain accounting coursework on your transcripts. In particular, the state board of accountancy requires that your academic record be comprised of:
24 semester hours in accounting at or above the intermediate level. Courses include:
- Intermediate Accounting
- Accounting Principles
- Tax Accounting
- Government or Nonprofit Accounting
- Theories in Accounting
- Fraud detection
- Financial Accounting
3 hours of business law
3 hours of economics
3 hours of college level math or computer science
Since the CPA examination is one of the most difficult professional exams, you will likely want to take a CPA preparation course. Alaska will acknowledge these courses and counts them towards your 150 semester hours. These courses must be taken for credit at an accredited institution. Commercial courses might be helpful later on, but they cannot be taken to satisfy the Board.
Alaska acknowledged bachelor's degrees from out of state institutions, but the Board will want to see that your degree comes from an accredited college or university. Make sure that your degree is certified by one of the following accreditation agencies:
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Colleges and Schools
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
The CPA exam is provided by the AICPA, a national association that provides testing, education, and other resources to CPA candidates and practicing professionals. Your life as a CPA will likely include some interactions with this organization. Prior to taking the exam, the Alaska board asks that you satisfy the academic, and other requirements. As a baseline, the state does require that all CPAs be 19 years or older and of upstanding moral character.
To ensure the strongest possible application to the board, present them with a transcript that includes:
- 24 semester hours in accounting courses at or above the intermediate level
- 3 semester hours of business law that focus on the Uniform Commercial Code
- 3 semester hours in economics – your course should reflect your long-term professional goals
- 3 semester hours in mathematics, statistics, or computer science
Another option allows you to take the CPA exam with a bachelor's degree and at least one year of supervised experience with a licensed CPA. You will need more experience if your bachelor's degree does not include
Once you have completed your bachelor's degree and a major concentration in Accounting, you are ready to apply to the board. Note that your bachelor's degree might still be in progress, but you must be within 18 semester or 27 quarter hours away from graduation. First, complete an application for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant examination that you can download from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) website.
Along with a completed application, have your official transcripts sent from your educational institution to the Board. If you are relying on your supervised experience, provide the board with a signed, notarized letter that reflects:
Your full name
Your dates of employment
Detailed information reflecting your specific experience in areas such as:
- Financial Accounting
- Government accountancy
- Implementing control systems
- Tax accounting
Letterhead from your employer
Signature of your supervisor or her proxy (such as the HR supervisor)
Prior to becoming a full CPA, you must not only pass your CPA exam(s) but you should complete tenure as an employee in a public accountancy, private business, or government agency. Alaska will want to see that you have fulfilled this requirement with a full accounting of your experience. In particular, you should have practiced providing one (or more) of the following services to your clients or employer:
- Financial advice
- Managerial advice
- Consulting services
- Tax accountancy
Prior to securing a position as a staffer under a licensed CPA, you should find an employer that will provide you with the sort of experience you desire, an experience that matches your long-term career goals. Your college or university accounting program will likely be able to provide a list of potential employers. It will be helpful if these employers have a record of working with budding CPAs. They will be the best able to guide you through your two or three years of experience, then will likely help you create the best letter for the Board.
The full requirements for licensure in the state of Alaska cover your education, exam scores, experience, and an ethics test. Once you have these things, you will want to visit the Board's website and download their application. Along with a completed application form, you will need to include the following specific items to the Board:
Official transcripts sent directly from your college or university
Make sure you send the most up-to-date transcripts, including any coursework taken after passing the CPA examination
A check for all fees owed – check the Board's website for up-to-date application fees
If you took the exam in another state, include the Interstate Exchange form that is included with your application packet
Mail all of your materials to: Alaska State Board of Public Accountancy, P.O. Box 110806, Juneau, AK 99811-0806
If you are a CPA outside of Alaska and wish to move your practice to the state, you may do so. Alaska does have a few requirements, including:
- Submit an application for Certified Public Accountant, ensuring that the reciprocity box is checked.
- You must hold a CPA license in good standing
- Proof of four consecutive years of practice as a CPA after passing your examination, within the past 10 years
- Official academic transcripts including all academic work
- Verification of your experience by your supervisor with the proper form, available on the website.
- Out-of-state supervisors must complete Section A of the Supervisor Verification form, then have their licensing board complete the rest prior to mailing it to the Alaska Board
- Complete the Authorization for Interstate Exchange of Examination and Certification Information for both your state of licensure and the state where you took your examination and have both states (if applicable) submit their portion to the Alaska Board.
Continuing professional education
In order to maintain your license with the state of Alaska, you must continue to update your education with coursework and seminars. The state asks that you complete a minimum of 20 hours per year and a total of 80 hours every two years. At least four of the 80 continuing education hours must cover ethics and Alaska's statutes and regulations regarding accountancy.
There are many ways to achieve your CPE credits. You might enroll in for-credit classes from your local institution of higher education, including a community college. You could also take advantage of contemporary advances in education and take courses from colleges and universities online. In fact, you could take advantage of the CPE requirement and use that time to complete a master's degree in accounting or business. First make sure that the institution is fully accredited by a board-approved agency. In Alaska, one semester hour in a college course will count for 15 hours of CPE time.
You can also take courses through the AICPA, engage in an independent study course, publish books or articles, or teach a course yourself. Teaching or leading discussions can only count for a maximum of 30 CPE hours every two years.
Make sure that you fully account for your CPA time and energy by keeping complete records. If the course or lecture offers a CPE certificate, make sure you get that. You will also need to take note of vital facts such as:
- Time/place of course
- Course sponsorship
- Proof of publication – for articles or books (valid URLs or ISBN numbers may suffice)
- Transcripts from educational institutions
Note that you will need to renew your license every two years and your CPE hours must be a part of that biennial renewal process.