Getting your CPA license in Illinois doesn’t have to be a hassle if you’re well prepared. Here’s what you need to know prior to securing your certified public accountant licensure.

Pre-exam education requirements

Before you’re allowed to sit for your CPA exam, Illinois regulation requires candidates to have completed a bachelor’s degree or above, as well as 150 credit hours from an accredited university or institution.

You must also meet one of the following prerequisites:

Hold a graduate degree in accounting from an institution accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

Hold a graduate degree in business from a school that’s been accredited by the AACSB or ACBSP, along with two accounting research hours and 30 credit hours of accounting courses including:

  • Auditing
  • Tax
  • Financial accounting
  • Managerial accounting
  • Economics
  • Business law
  • Business statistics
  • Business ethics (may not count for more than three semester hours)
  • Business communication (may not count for more than three semester hours)
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Quantitative methods
  • Internship or experience (may not count for more than three semester hours)

Hold a Bachelor's Degree with the following requirements met:

  • Auditing
  • Tax
  • Financial accounting
  • Managerial accounting
  • Two semester hours in accounting research and analysis
  • Internship or life experience (may not count for more than three semester hours)

24 semester hours studying business as an undergrad or grad student, including:

  • Economics
  • Business law
  • Business statistics
  • Business ethics (may not count for more than three semester hours)
  • Business communication (may not count for more than two semester hours)
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Information systems
  • Finance
  • Quantitative methods
  • Internship or experience (may not count for more than three semester hours)

If you’ve not yet met all of these requirements but you’re in the process of completing your education, you may be able to obtain provisional approval to sit for the exam. If granted, you’ll have 120 days from the time you take your exam to submit your final college transcripts.

Students who attended a university outside of the United States will need to submit their credentials for verification to the National Association of Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

Taking the Uniform CPA Exam


Once you’ve completed the necessary education requirements, you can move forward and get ready to take your exam. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

In the Illinois Board of Examiners (ILBOE) online system, you’ll need to create an account so you can submit your application. Choose one of the following application types that best fits your circumstances:

  • Pre-Evaluation
  • Domestic Evaluation
  • Foreign Evaluation
  • Total Transfer of Credit
  • International Qualifications Exam

Be careful not to leave out any information about the colleges or institutions you’ve attended. You’ll be able to pay the $200 application fee online with a credit card upon applying. Foreign applications are free of charge if all credits were earned out of the United States.

Submit your final transcripts to the ILBOE upon completion of all the education prerequisites. Original copies can be sent by mail to Illinois Board of Examiners, 1120 E. Diehl Rd, Suite 110, Naperville, IL 60563. You can also email transcripts to

Go to the ILBOE online system to complete the Initial Examination Request. Expect to be charged a fee ranging from $40 to $120 (depending on how many exam sections you’re looking to schedule).

Sit back and wait for a letter of approval from the ILBOE to arrive. If you haven’t paid your fee yet, you’ll receive a payment coupon that will be good for 90 days. If not paid by then, you’ll have to reapply. Once all fees are paid, you’ll receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS). You must schedule an exam appointment within six months.

You can now go ahead and schedule your exam through Prometric’s website. Contact the ILBOE or consult their website for information regarding scheduling details. Be sure to sufficiently study, and complete your exam at the scheduled time. You can expect to receive your score within one to two weeks.

CPA candidates must complete a class on professional ethics offered by the AICPA, followed by an open book exam on which you must score a 90 percent or higher. AICPA will send your results to the ILBOE upon request.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll receive a certification of CPA Exam Completion as well as a certification from the ILBOE as a CPA. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re licensed to start practicing on your own.

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Required Experience


After completing the education and exam steps, you’ll need to get some experience under your belt before you’re able to become a licensed CPA. These are the steps you’ll need to take to move forward with your licensure.

Complete one year of experience under the guidance of a manager or supervisor. You’ll need to be able to provide proof of service or consultation in the following areas:

  • Accounting
  • Attestation
  • Management advisory
  • Financial advisory
  • Tax consultation

On the Verification of Employment/Experience form located in the Application for CPA Licensure paperwork, document your completed work experience. This will need to be signed by your supervisor.

License requirements


After you’ve finished your year of supervised CPA employment, you’ll be eligible to apply for your CPA license.

On the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) website, locate and download the application packet. Submit the application along with any supplemental information (including experience verification) and required fees to Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, ATTN: Division of Professional Regulation, P.O. Box 7007, Springfield, IL 62791.

Maintaining your license


Once you’ve received your Illinois CPA license, you’ll need to routinely brush up on your skills to make sure you’re up to date on current regulations and information.

Every three years, the state of Illinois requires CPAs to complete 120 hours of continued professional education (CPE), four of which must pertain to ethics. For your first license renewal, you’ll be exempt from the CPE requirement, but be prepared to take future classes to keep your skills sharp.

To find CPE courses, consult the Illinois CPA Society or the NASBA registry.

You may also consider joining a professional group to make sure you’re on top of current news and regulations. The Illinois CPA Society is a great local choice, as is the American Institute of CPAs (a nationally based group).

Accountant Career Salaries in Illinois by Occupation

The sky is the limit for accountants in Illinois. Chicago is one of the top financial hubs in the nation, and many top corporations call Illinois home, including 31 Fortune 500 corporations. Illinois' Department of Employment Security projects that growth for the accountancy sector will be 11.7%, or 1,983 jobs per year, in the years 2012-22. Illinois accountants enjoyed a median salary of $66,000 in 2014, while those in Chicago averaged $74,270. For Chicago accountants with more than five years of experience, salaries ranged from $84,563 to $107,933. If you specialize in forensic accountancy, Chicago-area salaries have reached as high as $154,400.

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