Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the State of Florida is simplified with our step-by-step guide. This guide covers general and specific college education, how to become a CPA and how to pass the CPA exam, work experience, licensure, and continuing education and learning. Becoming a CPA is a challenging but rewarding process.
Enroll in an accredited university
The Florida Board of Accountancy has a requirement that your higher education accounting degree come from a school that is accredited by one of a group of select organizations. To qualify for the CPA exam and become a certified public accountant, you must obtain a bachelor's degree in Accounting and complete 120 credit hours. There are a number of approved programs in the state. Don't miss out on the career you want; confirm the institute you’re attending, or plan to attend, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. If you are taking courses online from a program in another state, you'll need to be sure they are accredited by their regional associationone of the following:
Additional academic accounting programs approved by international educational bodies in Canada, Mexico, Ireland, and Australia are also acceptable. You can check for find policy info or get questions answered on specific programs on the Florida Board of Accountancy site.
If a student's educational institution is not accredited by one of the above specific organizations, they may still qualify to take the Uniform CPA Examination. In order to validate a non-accredited degree, you must complete the following:
Enroll in a graduate program at an accredited institution.
To become a CPA, you must complete 15 semester hours of classes beyond a bachelor's degree, which must include nine hours of graduate-level accounting courses, three hours of tax study, and not be a duplicate or review of any previously courses taken.
Have undergraduate foreign transcripts evaluated by a Board-approved service such as Foreign Academic Credential Evaluators, Inc. or Global Services Associates, Inc. They will process your transcripts to ensure they meet the level of education and knowledge required and have the requisite skills before you gain access to the CPA exam.
Provide the completed evaluation of foreign transcripts to the Florida Board of Accountancy; it may be possible to ask the evaluators to email them directly to the board.
Complete course requirements
CPA applicants must earn a bachelor's degree with a concentration in accounting and business. The program must consist of at least 150 semester or 200 quarter hours, including upper level courses, and may take up to five years to complete in the U.S. The courses you'll take should include the following:
A minimum of 36 semester or 34 quarter hours of upper-division accounting courses
- Taxation Accounting
- Financial Accounting
- Cost and Managerial Accounting
- Accounting Systems and Technology
- Internship (maximum of three semester hours or four quarter hours, may lead to a part- or full-time job)
At least 39 semester or 58 quarter hours of upper-division business education courses
- Business Law (minimum of six semester or eight quarter hours)
- Quantitative Application in Business
- Real Estate
- General Business Policies
- Computers in the Business Environment (maximum of nine semester hours or 13 quarter hours)
- Statistics (maximum of six semester hours or eight quarter hours)
Featured Online Programs
Campus and Online Degree Options in Florida
If you have always wanted to work with numbers, becoming a cpa may be a good choice for you. Earning your AAS in Accounting gives you the basics you need to get into the field and get some experience. Read More
A Bachelor of Science in Accounting will take four years to earn. Once you graduate, you should have the foundation you need to work in accounting and/or business. Read More
A master’s degree in accounting allows you to work in government, non-profit organizations, financial organizations, industry, or as a public accountant. This degree can also earn you access to management and higher-level positions. Read More
Doctorate or PhD
One form of PhD allows you to work as an accounting researcher, where you’ll tackle issues in accounting. You’ll use psychology, finance, and mathematics disciplines in your work. Read More
Online Degree Programs
An online degree in accounting is just as rigorous as an in-person accounting degree program. You’ll learn the same materials and be qualified to work in the same disciplines at the same levels, depending on what type of degree you earn. Read More
Complete Course Requirements
Applicants who intend to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination must have completed and passed at least 120 semester or 180 quarter hours. The program must include the following:
- At least 24 semester or 34 quarter hours of upper-division accounting courses (taxation, auditing, cost/managerial, and financial)
- At least 24 semester or 34 quarter hours of upper-division business education courses, including three (3) semester or four (4) quarter hours of business law courses
Apply to Take the Exam
- $50 check made payable to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation
- Official transcripts (you may need to have these sent directly for security reasons, which is often free)
- Supporting legal documents (if applicable for background check purposes)
Pay Your Examination Fee
You will need to wait for further instruction from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Once your application is approved, the Florida Board of Accountancy will notify the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as to which sections of the Unified CPA Examination you are eligible to take. The NASBA will then send you a payment coupon with instructions on how to pay your exam fees. Generally, you can pay by mailing a check, by credit card on the computer, or by calling (866) MY-NASBA.
Schedule Your Exam Date
Once your payment has been processed, you will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS). This should arrive within three to 10 days, depending on the method of contact you selected. Your NTS will list the next sections of the examination you’re approved to take and will instruct you to schedule your exam date via a FL Prometric testing center. Be advised that Prometric does charge exam service fees.
A few exam scheduling tips:
- Keep track of your NTS, as you’ll need it to enter testing centers.
- Check the accuracy of your name.
- Schedule early and have at least two backup dates per section.
- Remember to bring two forms of identification, once of which must contain a recent photo.
- If you require anything in terms of testing accommodations, schedule at least 10 days in advance.
While you should never apply for a section of the examination that you’re unprepared for, it’s important to remember that your NTS will expire. The Florida Board of Accountancy sets a time period (usually six months) during which testing must be completed. If you fail to complete your sections, you’ll receive no refund and reapplication will be necessary.
Wait for Your Results
Once you’ve completed the Unified CPA Examination, your responses are sent to AICPA for scoring. They are then forwarded to NASBA and the Florida Board of Accountancy. You’ll receive access to your scores within about 20 days.
Work Experience Requirements
Complete work experience requirements
To become a certified public accountant in Florida, you are required to work within the profession in a government, industry, academic, or public practice for at least one year. During this time, you should take all opportunities to gain experience in accounting, attest, compilation, reporting, providing financial advice to managers and/or clients, tax, or consulting. A verifying CPA must confirm your work experience via a Certificate of Work Experience form.
Applying for Your Florida CPA License
Verify you’ve met all requirements
In order to apply for a CPA license, you must meet the following requirements:
- Successful completion of 150 credit hours or 200 quarter hours
- Passing score on all four parts of the Unified CPA Examination (at least 75% within an 18 month rolling period)
- One year of professional work experience; note that this must be correctly verified by a licensed CPA
Submit the Initial CPA License Application
You can apply for your initial CPA license by downloading the application and sending it to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation via mail. Application requirements include:
- $50 check made payable to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation
- Official school transcripts
- Completed Certification of Work Experience Form
Continuing Education Requirements
Complete CPE requirements
In order to maintain your CPA license in Florida, you need to meet the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations CPE requirements. Within each two-year renewal period, you must complete the following:
- 80 CPE credits, including 20 hours in accounting and auditing and four hours of Board-approved ethics courses by June 30th of the renewal year
- Pay a $105 license renewal fee
CPAs no longer need to submit proof of course completion, but should maintain documentation in case of a CPE audit. Failing to meet these requirements will put your license in delinquency.
Accountant Career Concentrations & Salaries in Florida
You can earn a concentration in auditing and move directly into the field of auditing. This will give you the ability to be depended upon by individuals or even companies to completely review their financials and make sure that they are 100% accurate. In this specialty, you can work as a consultant for a variety of clients or companies, or even find yourself working within a government department, such as HUD, and ensuring that contractors are maintaining their records accurately. Learn More
With a focus in managerial accounting, you will learn to read and interpret data so that it can be accurately portrayed to investors or even higher levels of management. You will be responsible for explaining to the CEO or CFO what has been happening at the lower levels of a company and may provide suggestions for how they can fix issues and stop profit loss. You might even one day work as the CFO yourself. Learn More
Bachelor’s and Master of Professional Accounting
With this degree, you’re able to personalize your degree by adding a bachelor’s degree in economics or another related certification. This means you graduate with both an undergraduate and a master’s degree, making you much more valuable to employers. Learn More
Florida has more accountants than almost any other state. There were estimated to be 79,800 of them in 2014, and by 2024 that total is projected to balloon to 98,770. That is a growth of more than 4,000 accountants or 24 percent overall, which is more than twice the growth in demand forecast nationally. In spite of the robust demand, compensation is roughly equivalent to the national average. However, professionals at the top end of the salary ladder make significantly more than those at the bottom. The good news for any new accountant is that compensation is similar in all the state's metropolitan areas, allowing for more flexible career options.
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Florida Accounting Frequently Asked Questions
How many accounting jobs are there in Florida?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment map for accounting jobs in Florida shows 71,520 jobs for accountants in the state. At this level, the state is on a par with around 15 other states in the country. In the US, overall employment is 326,810.
How much can I earn in the state with an accounting degree?
The average annual salary in the state is around $51,000. At the beginning of your accounting career, you can expect to earn about $36,000 and by mid-career your salary will be closer to an average of $63,000.
Do Florida universities offer online accounting degree programs?
Colleges and universities in Florida do offer online degree options if this is the only way for you to earn your degree. If you are working full-time and/or you have family obligations, this may be your best option.
Who should apply for a PhD in accounting research?
Some programs are intended solely for PhD students who plan to work in academia and research. There are two types of doctoral programs. The first is research-oriented and the second is so graduates can work at the highest levels in accounting.