Becoming a CPA in Kentucky requires a lot of hard work and dedication but is achievable within a few years of receiving a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Unlike many states, Kentucky policy requires CPA candidates to work with its state board of accountancy to review general eligibility for taking the Uniform CPA Examination, rather than applying through the national state board association to meet eligibility requirement.


Education Requirements

In Kentucky, the requirements CPA candidates must meet mean that students who plan to be future CPAs must complete 150 semester hours as a student in an accredited college and obtain a bachelor’s degree at minimum. These must include 39 hours of overview business courses, of which 27 hours of content are specifically accounting. Courses in the following subjects may make up 12 hours or more:

  • Business
  • Computers
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Statistics

If you attended an international college or a university program based in a foreign country, a member credentialing agency of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services, Inc. (NACES) must evaluate your academic credits. Contact NACES directly by phone or email to arrange an evaluation to ensure your education met all standards in terms of CPA requirements. The NACES will provide your results to the Kentucky State Board of Accountancy (KSBA).

Degree Requirements for Accountants in Kentucky

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Associate Degree

A two-year accounting degree from a Kentucky community college is a terrific way to launch a career in business or finance. Those skills will be invaluable in managerial or administrative work. Learn More

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Bachelor’s Degree

Students who are aiming for a Kentucky CPA license should start their career with a four-year bachelor's degree. Not only will that enable them to take the examination, but they'll also be able to apply for a master's program when they are finished. Learn More

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Master’s Degree

Whether it's a Master of Accountancy, a MS in Accounting, or an MBA with a concentration in accounting, a graduate degree is always key in the pursuit of the c-suites. Learn More

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Doctorate or PhD

Though a doctoral degree isn't particularly common in the business world, many firms would be pleased to have such a well-educated individual on board. However, a doctoral-level degree in accounting is primarily reserved for those seeking a position in academia. Learn More

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Online Degree Programs

An online accounting degree is a fantastic way to attain academic training from a top college, no matter how remote. The online option also allows the sort of flexibility working professionals need to complete a degree without missing a beat at work. Learn More

Exam Requirements in Kentucky

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Individuals who have completed at least 120 semester hours of college and have earned a bachelor’s degree are eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination. Visit the KSBA website to apply for the exam. Once you receive the application packet, fill out the forms and send in official transcripts from your colleges or university, along with the applicable fees. These fees include an initial examination fee, and additional fees for each of the four sections of the exam, along with other fees detailed in the application. Read thoroughly and take the application to a notary before signing; after notarization, send the package to:

Kentucky State Board of Accountancy
332 W. Broadway, #310
Louisville, KY 40202

Once the KSBA approves your application, it sends an “Authorization to Test” to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). You will receive an invoice from NASBA, which is payable within 90 days. Once NASBA receives the funds, you will receive a Notice to Schedule the Uniform CPA Examination. You receive this notice via the method chosen in your application; either via email, fax, or regular mail.

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The Uniform CPA Examination

The Uniform CPA Examination was created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and consists of four separate components, each on a different subject: Financial accounting and reporting; Business environment and concepts; Regulation and Auditing and Attestation. The test for each component lasts a period of four hours, for a total of 16 hours of testing. You can take each exam on separate dates or, technically, you could take the entire exam in one 16-hour sitting but the open hours of a testing center may make this impossible. All components of the exam must be completed within 18 months after you file a passing score on the initial component.

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Exam scheduling

The Uniform CPA Examination is held in three Kentucky testing center locations in Florence, Lexington, and Louisville. Visit the Prometric website to schedule your exam. On the day of the testing, arrive at the test site at least 30 minutes before the time the test is set to begin in order to get through security and ask any questions. You will need official identification to take the test, such as a driver’s license or some other form of identification including your photograph. After you complete the exam, your scores are mailed to you.

The Uniform CPA Examination consists of four separate components.


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Experience Needed

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After you pass the Uniform CPA Examination, you can begin to gain the necessary experience qualifying you for full Kentucky CPA licensing. Kentucky requires CPA candidates to complete 2,000 hours of practical experience over one year. You must complete the experience portion within five years of passing the Uniform CPA Examination. The entire process is overseen and verified by a licensed CPA in a leadership position, but Kentucky does not require that CPA to hold Kentucky licensure.

You may gain experience working in opportunities in academia, government, industry, or public practice accounting or auditing. You may hole a position in more than one office or company to gain the required number of hours.

The verifying CPA must complete a Certificate of Experience for you, which is included when you apply for your licensure. Info required on the certificate includes:

  • Employer’s name and address
  • Employment dates
  • Total hours worked
  • Professional titles held
  • Description of work duties

If you gained your experience in academia, you must include all courses you taught, and the course titles and dates and number of semester hours.

Getting Your CPA License in Kentucky

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After completing your experience and having the certified CPA verify it, you may apply for licensure. Download the Application for an Initial License as Kentucky Certified Public Accountant. When sending in the application, include a 2” x 2” photo of yourself. Along with the Certificate of Experience, send along your official college transcripts and an application fee with a check made out to the KSBA. You must complete and sign the application in the presence of a notary public. Mail the completed and notarized application to the KSBA.

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Reciprocal licensing

If you already hold a license in any US state or territory other than the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico, you may apply for a reciprocal license. Fill out the application for Initial License as a Kentucky Certified Public Account by Reciprocity. You must also send an Authorization for Interstate Exchange of Information form to the board of the state in which you passed the Uniform CPA Examination. If that is not the same state in which your license is held, you must send the authorization form to that state. Attach a 2” x 2” photograph of yourself to the application. The application must include one of the following:

  • Verification of one year of experience by a certified CPA
  • Certified copies of experience forms filed with another state accountancy board
  • Copies of your firm’s license application
  • Schedule C of your personal income tax return
  • Letter from a CPA or lawyer familiar with your practice
  • Public accounting omissions and errors insurance

You must also send the applicable fees in a check made payable to the KSBA. Have the application’s certificate and acknowledgement page notarized and send the entire package to the KSBA.

Continuing Professional Education Requirements

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Kentucky’s Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements vary depending on your job. If the previous two years of your work took place in a public accounting firm and you worked 3,000 hours or more, you must complete 80 CPE hours every two years. All other licensed CPAs must complete 60 CPE hours every two years.

You will receive CPE credits by the KSBA for classes where you learn about the following subjects:

  • Auditing and Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Communication Arts
  • Economics
  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • Information Systems and Accounting Technology
  • Management Services
  • Marketing
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Taxation

You may also receive continuing education credit for administrative procedures dealing with attest services and learning courses or credit hours with a concentration in specialized areas of the industry. Such specializations include financial analysis, cost accounting, management consulting, academia, and government accounting.

Certain CPA programs count for CPE credit. These include:

  • In-house educational programs
  • Credited college and university courses, specifically graduate courses
  • Non-credit college and university courses, such as certificates or similar programs
  • Formal independent study courses, including those online
  • Professional accounting organization’s professional development courses

Article and book publishing may help by counting for up to 25% of your CPE credits. Lecturing, speaking or leading discussions may account for up to 60 percent of your CPE credits.

Once you have completed your CPE credits, hold on to the documentation for at least five years. This documentation includes the titles and descriptions of courses, the dates attended, the sponsor and how many CPE hours you are claiming for each course.

Accountant Career Concentrations & Salaries in Kentucky

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Forensic Accounting

This field blends the rigor and detail-oriented nature of accounting with the thrill of catching a bad guy. Forensic accountants are often central in cases involving organized crime, embezzlement, and money laundering. They also work with attorneys in civil cases such as divorce, where parties may seek to hide assets from their opposition. Learn More

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Financial Analyst or Advisor

The world of finance is perfect for someone with an accounting background. Thus, focusing on financial analysis as part of an accounting degree is a perfect choice. Accountants who concentrate on finance for their MBA can perhaps launch their way into a CFO position and career as a financial advisor. Learn More

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Information Technology

The world of computing and high technology needs accountants who can apply their fastidious and detail-oriented minds to the databases and networks. Accountants in this sector evaluate the risks in their firm's information systems.

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Managerial Accounting

This is a focus area that is gaining popularity all the time. Managerial accountants prepare audits and statements that are specifically designed to help their firm achieve greater efficiency and profitability. The audits might focus on inventories, payroll, or other specifics of a firm's operations. Learn More

In Kentucky, the accountancy sector is slated for above-average growth. Between 2012 and 2022, the Workforce Development Cabinet projects a 10.21% growth rate. That means 402 jobs per year. Salaries have been on the rise, as well. In 2014, the median salary for accountants was $54,849 and the BLS reports an annual mean wage of $65,840 in 2017. However, if you have a practice that focuses on forensics, you can make between $65,780 and $102,580 in Louisville. For those who work towards a C-level job, CFOs in Kentucky are reported to have earned as much as $248,875 a year in 2015. Given an upwards growth trend, Kentucky is a fantastic state for accountants.

City Annual Median Wage
Lexington $67810
Owensboro $65630
Elizabethtown $63240
East Kentucky – non-metropolitan area $54610
West Kentucky – non-metropolitan area $61,570
Annual Mean Wage 10th Percentile 25th percentile 50th percentile 75th percentile 90th percentile
$65,840 $36,530 $46,230 $59,250 $76,410 $101,100

Kentucky Accounting Frequently Asked Questions

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What sort of accreditation should my Accounting degree program have?

When you are seeking an accounting program, certainly look for one that is fully accredited. If you intend to become a CPA, the Kentucky Board of Accountancy will likely require a degree from a program accredited by either the AACSB or the ACBSP, which are national accrediting agencies.

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Are there online accounting degree options in Kentucky?

While Kentucky's public institutions don't currently offer online accounting degrees, students can still attend online universities that are headquartered elsewhere. However, since education has used online media to adapt to the COVID pandemic, it's almost certain that more Kentucky colleges and universities will expand their online offerings in the future.

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What are Kentucky's educational requirements for CPA candidates?

The Kentucky Board of Accountancy requires that CPA examination candidates have fully completed their bachelor’s degrees, including a minimum of 27 semester hours in the field. However, to attain CPA licensure, accountants need to complete an additional 30 semester hours. However, the Board might allow fewer hours if those courses are at the graduate level.

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What is the average salary for an Accountant in Kentucky?

The average annual salary for Kentucky accountants is $68,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is slightly less than then national average salary, which the BLS reports as $71,000. It's more likely that Kentucky accountants will find work in either the Louisville or Lexington areas, though the state's non-metropolitan areas also afford opportunities for accountants.


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