The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that demand for accountants will grow 10% between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than the national average for all careers. The rate of growth is much higher in Georgia specifically, where it's projected at 23% between 2014 and 2024. By that time there will be 49,160 professionals employed in the state earning an average wage around $68,990. Certified Public Accountants (CPA) earn more than other general accountants and work in various areas of industry and firms throughout the U.S. You can take advantage of additional job opportunities and pay expectations by learning the current rules on how to become a Certified Public Accountant in Georgia.
All CPAs must be licensed by the state of Georgia in order to practice legally. The educational requirements CPA candidates must meet to earn a license include minimum levels of education and expertise in particular accounting topics. This is also a requirement to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam, another important step towards licensure. One of the first steps you can take to become a CPA is to earn an associate degree in accounting by attending an accelerated program for accounting degrees. This will help you find and earn work experience before or while you move on to complete a bachelor's. Here is some more info to answer any questions on the state's academic CPA requirements:
Select a college or university in Georgia that offers courses in accounting. The school must be accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency in order to be recognized by the Georgia State Board of Accountancy. Keep these other considerations in mind:
- CPA review courses offered though accredited colleges and universities are acceptable as long as students receive college credit.
- A CPA review course offered through commercial outlets are not acceptable.
- Online and correspondence courses are acceptable as long as college credit is granted.
- On site accounting internships are acceptable but may only constitute two courses on a college transcript.
- Upper-level accounting courses offered though two-year or junior college are acceptable as long as credit for those courses is recognized by a four-year college or university.
- College Level Examination Program (CLEP) courses are not recognized.
Earn at least 150 semester hours and be awarded a degree by a four-year college or university. Some of that credit must apply to specific topics:
- 30 semester hours in accounting above the introductory level. Examples of upper-level subjects include taxation, corporate accounting, government and non-profit accounting, business law, and accounting ethics among many others.
- 24 semester hours in business-related subjects. Examples include marketing, management, ethics, international business, economics, computer science, and many others.
Students who earned an accounting degree from an international institution must contact the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to request an education evaluation. This determines whether foreign degrees/coursework meet the policy standards of training from accredited American institutions. If a degree is determined to be equivalent, the NASBA informs the CPA Examination Services that a candidate has met the education requirements in Georgia.
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Degree Requirements for Accountants in Georgia
A good associate degree should prepare you to work in a variety of accounting fields using current technology. You’ll learn the basics of technical, academic, and professional skills and knowledge. Learn More
A Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting gives you both a broad foundation and a more specialized field of knowledge so that, when you enter a business position, you’ll be fully prepared. Learn More
A Master of Accountancy (MAcc) teaches you about those higher-level accounting skills you need as you rise in your field. You’ll also learn business skills you need. Learn More
Doctorate or PhD
If you’ve ever considered earning your doctoral degree, earning it in accounting will mean you’re prepared to work in academia as a researcher or educator. Learn More
Online Degree Programs
Any degree in accounting that you earn online will be just as valuable as that earned by someone attending in-person. These programs are becoming more and more common across the US. Learn More
Exam Requirements in Georgia
CPA candidates in Georgia must take and pass a test, offered in four parts, that is designed to demonstrate basic competence and mastery of core concepts. This exam is offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). In order to be eligible for the exam, a candidate must have earned a bachelor's degree including at least 20 semester hours of upper-level accounting coursework. Once eligible, follow these steps:
Download an official application form or register online with the CPA Examination Services (CPAES).
Collect the documents necessary to include with the official application:
- An official college transcript – This may be submitted by the applicant rather than the college or university.
- A foreign education evaluation from if applicable.
- An ADA accommodation form, if applicable.
- The application fees, payable by check, money order, or credit card to the CPAES.
Mail all relevant application documents to CPA Examination Services - GA, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219.
Look for a Notice to Schedule (NTS) to arrive via mail, fax, or email from the NASBA. This simply informs candidate they have met the requirements for testing and are allowed to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam.
Sign up for a time, date, and test-taking center location on the Prometric website. Testing locations include:
Prepare for the exam and arrive at the testing location before your testing time to get through security. The exam requires a significant personal and financial investment and it also essential for CPA licensure, which is why passing on the first time is a priority.
Wait to hear back about the exam results. Official results are sent through the mail, but scores are posted online 48 hours after the exam is administered.
All licensed CPAs in Georgia must acquire extensive on-the-job experience in order to learn real-world, hands-on skills. Candidates have several options for where, when, and how they acquire this experience.
Option 1 : Work for one year (2000 hours) at a public accounting firm in Georgia:
- The experience must be supervised by a CPA with an active Georgia license.
- Candidates must work as a staff accountant handling things like attestation, audit, compilation, reporting, financial advisory, tax preparation, or consulting.
Option 2 : Work for one year (2000 hours) at a public accounting firm in Georgia:
- The experience must be supervised by a CPA with an active Georgia license.
- Candidates must work as a staff accountant handling things like attestation, compilation, financial advisory, tax preparation, or consulting.
Option 3 : Work for one year (2000 hours) at a business in Georgia:
- The employment must be at a federal, state, or local agency that is supported by public funds and participates in accounting and auditing.
- Anyone employed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must be a GS-11 or higher for the experience to count.
Option 4 : Work for one year (2000 hours) at a public accounting firm in Georgia:
- Candidates must teach accounting at a four-year college or university.
- At least two of the courses taught must be at an upper level.
- Candidates must teach at least 24 semester hours within a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 36 months.
- Courses must be directly related to accounting. Topics like finance, economics, or statistics are not considered applicable.
Document any professional experience using one of two options:
- Complete the first page of the Certificate of Experience form found in the CPA certificate packet. The employer completes the second page and returns the entire document to the candidate in a sealed envelope.
- Verify the professional experience online as part of the digital CPA application. Verification includes the Supervisor's name, CPA license number, issue date, and expiration date. If the licenses was awarded in another state it must be verified using the Employer’s Licensure Verification form in the application packet.
After completing all of the requirements outlined above, candidates are ready to formally apply for a CPA license in Georgia:
Request a print or digital application packet from the NASBA. In addition to the complete application, candidates must submit the following documents:
- A Certificate of Expertise completed by the candidate's supervisor and contained in a sealed envelope.
- An official college transcript contained in a sealed envelope.
- The Employer Verification Form if the supervisor's license was issued in another state.
- A signed consent form authorizing the board to perform a background check.
- Payment for all relevant fees. Payment should be made to NASBA Licensing Services in the form of certified check, money order, or credit card.
Send the application and all relevant supplemental documents to NASBA Licensing Services – GA, P.O. Box 198589, Nashville, TN 37219.
Wait to receive official notification from the NASBA that the license application has been reviewed and approved.
Candidates who have a CPA license in another state may be able to get a reciprocal license as long as they meet the conditions below. If so, the licensure application process is largely the same, but applicants must include an Authorization for International Exchange form permitting the state board to request information from another jurisdiction.
- States that offer reciprocal licenses to Georgia CPAs.
- Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are excluded.
- Candidates who already meet Georgia's requirements for education, examination, and experience.
- Candidates who establish residence as well as a primary or occasional place of business.
Candidates who have a CPA license in another country may also be able to get a reciprocal license. Georgia specifically recognizes licenses issued in Australia, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, Hong Kong, and New Zealand with some exceptions. Candidates who are able to provide a letter of good standing from the original licensing office are permitted to take the International Qualification Examination and expedite the application process.
Continuing Education Requirements
Georgia does not renew a CPA license until a candidate has satisfied particular requirements for continuing professional education (CPE):
CPAs must complete 80 hours CPE every 2 years while meeting certain conditions:
- 16 hours of CPE must be dedicated to accounting and auditing specifically.
- CPE is not required if a CPA license is less than one year old. If a license is less than two but more than one year old the CPA is required to complete 40 hours of CPE with 20% focused on accounting and auditing.
- CPAs must earn at least 20 hours of CPE each year. Up to 15 hours may be carried over to the next two-year period.
- CPAs over the age of 70 are exempt from the CPE requirement.
CPE hours must also meet certain conditions:
- Approved subjects include accounting, auditing, taxation, computer sciences, mathematics, ethics, business management and most accounting-adjacent topics.
- CPE must be offered through approved providers. These include colleges and universities, professional organizations, and independent study programs. The state board does not pre-approve CPE providers, but professional accounting organizations throughout Georgia do maintain lists of acceptable sources of CPE.
CPAs must maintain detailed records of all CPE hours earned going back a minimum of five years. Records must include the following information:
- The name of the sponsoring institution, firm, or program
- The location of the program
- The title of the program and a description of the content
- An outline of the program
- The dates attended
- The number of CPE hours earned
- Proof of program completion.
Accountant Career Concentrations & Salaries in Georgia
Bachelor of Business Administration, Accounting Concentration
In the 4-year track, you’ll earn your BBA and minor in accounting. You’ll learn a wide range of business-related accounting and finance skills. In the 5-year track, this accounting program helps you prepare for your CPA. You’re required to complete 150 credit hours toward your degree.
This curriculum strives to teach you how to be, not only a good accountant, but also a good businessperson. You’ll benefit from classes in economics, business, and management, developing an understanding of how accounting is used in society.
MBA with a Concentration in Accounting
You’ll be well-prepared to understand and complete financial statements, compute and oversee costs, record business transactions, participate in strategic planning for acquisitions and mergers, develop information systems to track financial performance and finally, devise tax strategies.
Accountants who focus on tax may work for individual clients, small companies, or large corporations. One of the best ways to do this is to work on a consultation basis with a variety of organizations and people and build a clientele that will provide you with work throughout the year. Learn More
By 2024 the state of Georgia is expected to hire 1,990 new accountants and bring the statewide total to 49,160 accountants overall. That is a growth rate of 23 percent, which is much more robust than the 10 percent growth forecast for the nation. The state's highest salaries are found around Atlanta, but any accountant who reaches the upper echelon in terms of compensation is awarded with well over six figures annually. Notably, even accountants in some of the state's smaller cities are compensated competitively.
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Georgia Accounting Frequently Asked Questions
Can I earn a degree in accounting online?
Yes, you can earn an accounting degree online in Georgia. Some of your options include an associate, bachelor’s, a Master of Accounting (WEBMAcc), or an online MBA with a concentration in accounting.
An online program makes it possible for you to continue working and spending time with your family.
Is it possible to earn a PhD in accounting, for research purposes?
The PhD in Accounting focuses on research (tax, behavioral, or financial) that you’ll use in your professional field. The program offers you the opportunity to learn the skills you need to become a teacher, such as a tenure-track professor within a university focusing on research.
What is the average annual salary for a staff accountant in Atlanta?
You may earn $52,000 as an average annual salary, working as a staff accountant in an Atlanta, GA accounting firm. Their early-career salary averages around $41,000 and their mid-career salary averages $61,000. You’ll work among a staff of accountants on accounts assigned to you.
What is the number of accounting jobs in Georgia?
The number of jobs in the accounting field in Georgia is 36,860 - this is for accountants employed throughout the entire state of Georgia. Depending on the location in the state, the number of positions and available pay will shift.