Before applying to become a CPA in the state of Colorado, there are very specific education and licensure requirements. Then, once you hold a CPA license, Colorado has detailed continuing education guidelines that you must follow to maintain your license. Take a look at our step-by-step guide on CPA requirements in Colorado to get the information you need to further your career.
Colorado Educational Requirements for Licensure
Colorado has very specific educational requirements you'll need to fulfill in order to qualify to sit for the state CPA exam. First of all, you'll need to hold a bachelor’s degree with 150 semester hours at the undergraduate or graduate level. Of those courses you'll need to take 33 credit hours in accounting-specific subjects as well as 27 hours in business classes and pass with a minimum 2.0 grade. No classes can be "Introductory" and all coursework must be from an accredited institution as recognized by the Colorado Board of Regulatory Agency Board of Accountancy (BOA). The state of Colorado has authorized the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) division called CPA Examination Services (CPAES) to process all applications for exams and licensure. Here's a look at each section of the education requirements:
Accounting coursework must be designah3ted under the accounting program code. Of the 33 required hours 27 must be in specific accounting courses in the following subjects:
- Accounting Information Systems
- Accounting Research and Analysis
- Accounting Ethics (minimum three hours)
- Accounting Theory
- Auditing and Attestation Services (minimum six hours including three hours of U.S. Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS))
- Financial Accounting and Reporting for Government and Not-for-Profit Entities
- Financial Accounting and Reporting of Business Organizations
- Financial Statement Analysis
- Internal Controls and Risk Assessment
- Fraud Examination
- Tax Research and Analysis
- Managerial or Cost Accounting
Business coursework must total a minimum of 27 hours, 18 of which must be in the following business administration subjects:
- Business Communications
- Business Ethics
- Behavior of Organizations, Groups, and Persons
- Business Law
- Computer Information Systems
- Legal and Social Environment of Business
- Quantitative Applications in Business
- Other areas as approved by the Board
A minimum three of the 18 semester hours must be in accounting business, or technical, communications, no more than nine of the 27 hours may be in any single subject but hours in excess of nine may count towards the total requirement of 150 semester hours.
Professional training is not accepted in lieu of coursework; all course credits must be through an accredited institution.
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Examination Requirements in Colorado
The Colorado CPA exam is overseen by NASBA and is the Uniform CPA Examination. This exam consists of four sections with each section being four hours in length for a total of 16 examination hours. Each of the exam sections is composed of five “testlets” or groups of test questions.
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
- Regulation (REG)
In Colorado you will apply for the exam online through NASBA’s CPA Examination (CPAES) Online Application System and the test is given by Prometric at the following locations:
- Grand Junction
- Colorado Springs
- Greenwood Village
Each time you wish to take one or more test sections you'll use this application system so it is vital that your name and address are correct and updated in a timely manner. All documents and fees must be submitted at the time you apply. Here are the steps you'll need to take in order to sit for the exam:
- Have your college send an official transcript directly to CPAES. Note that most schools take two to six months after end of class until transcripts are finalized and another 10 to 15 days to process a transcript request.
- Sign and submit a Colorado First-Time Application for the Uniform CPA Examination.
- Sign and submit an Affidavit of Eligibility.
- Provide a copy of your photo identification.
- Complete, sign, and submit a notarized Attestation Form
- Submit the proper payment via credit card, money order, or certified check
The above items should be sent by mail directly to CPA Examination Services.
Fees: There is an initial application fee of $150.00 as well as a fee for each exam section you plan to take:
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD) $195.35
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) $176.25
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) $195.35
- Regulation (REG) $176.25
Once you've submitted all relevant paperwork and fees you'll wait for a Notice to Schedule (NTS) from NASBA. Once you have your NTS you may go to the Prometric website and schedule your exam at the nearest testing site. Note that you'll need your NTS document in order to be admitted to the exam so keep it in a safe place.
When you arrive for your tests you'll need to provide your NTS as well as two forms of valid and current identification, one of which is required to include a photo. You will not be allowed to bring anything else into the examination room; a locker will be provided for your personal items. You should plan to arrive one hour before the testing is scheduled to begin.
After you've taken the exam you can access test scores online after about 20 days. You'll need to have at least a 75 percent score in order to pass, and you'll need to pass all four test sections within an 18 month time frame in order to be eligible for licensure.
Before you apply for licensure you'll also need to pass an ethics exam. Colorado uses the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) Ethics Exam and you'll need to pass with a 90 percent or better score within two years immediately preceding the date of application for licensure. The AICPA Ethics Exam for CPAs is a home test that includes a workbook and is taken online.
Required Experience for CPA Licensure
Colorado has two options for the experience requirement. If you have a Bachelor's degree with a minimum of 150 semester hours that includes 45 hours of accounting and 36 hours of business administration you may choose the Education in Lieu of Experience. Otherwise you must complete 1800 hours (one year) of supervised work in the accounting field. Internships do qualify, and the work may be full or part time but must be completed within a five year span prior to your application for licensure. Your experience must be verified by a Colorado licensed CPA or a CPA licensed in another state. Your experience can be in public accounting, private industry, government, or academia. Here are some examples of acceptable experience:
- Internal auditing
- External audit
- Issuing reports on financial statements
- Installing internal control systems
- Management advisory
- Preparing financial statements
- Preparing tax returns
- Providing tax advice
Teaching accounting at an accredited university or college (12 semester hours will equal one year of experience)
- Teaching at least two different upper-division accounting classes
How to get Your CPA License in Colorado
Once you've met the educational, examination, and experience requirements you'll be eligible to apply for your CPA license from the state of Colorado. Here are the basic steps you'll take to become a licensed Colorado CPA:
Log in or create an account on the NASBA website.
Sign and submit the required documentation to show you meet the requirements:
- Affidavit of Eligibility
- Sealed Certificates of Experience from all employers verifying work experience
- Sealed transcripts from colleges
- AICPA Ethics Exam Certificate of Completion
- Application fee via credit card, certified check or money order payable to NASBA Licensing Services: Initial Applicant Fee of $110.00
It will take approximately two weeks to receive your Colorado CPA Certificate in the mail.
Renewal and Continuing Education
Your CPA license expires on November 30 of odd-numbered years. Before you can renew your license you must show proof that you've completed continuing professional education (CPE) requirement, which are 80 hours for the two year period you were licensed; there is a maximum of 16 hours in Personal Development classes allowed. Of these hours you must have a minimum of four hours in Ethics, two of which may be in Regulatory or Behavioral Ethics. To find current CPE courses and requirements you should check the AICPA or NASBA websites or other professional organization to find current CPE available once you have your license. Here are some examples of the types of CPE courses you'll need to take:
- Accounting practice
- Governmental accounting
- Governmental auditing
- Behavioral ethics
- Business management and organization
- Management advisory services
- Personal development
- Human resources/personnel
- Regulatory ethics
- Specialized applications and knowledge
- Social environment of business