Learn how to become a certified public accountant and get your CPA licence in Louisiana. Those who want to become a certified public accountant CPA in Louisiana will have a few different requirements than many other states as there is no national policy.
While many states require CPA candidates to major in accounting in college before they take the uniform CPA exam and become a CPA, requirements in Louisiana allow that completion of any major is acceptable, as long as the person has taken the requisite number of business and accounting courses. This means that, in Louisiana, CPA candidates don't have to worry as much about what degrees they earn as long as they pass the CPA exam with a good score and meet work experience requirements. Becoming a CPA is challenging but rewarding.
In Louisiana state CPA candidates that wish to become a CPA must complete 150 semester hours of college in total and earn a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in accounting. The State Board of CPAs of Louisiana must find the colleges or universities attended acceptable, and they must be accredited by one of the national accreditation organizations. The Louisiana regional body is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Prior to becoming a CPA, the completed coursework must be 24 credit hours of undergraduate accounting courses, or 21 hours of such courses at the graduate level. Such courses of study must include:
- Six hours of intermediate accounting (undergraduate) 3 hours (graduate)
- 3 hours cost accounting
- 3 hours auditing
- 3 hours income tax accounting
Candidates that want to become a CPA must also successfully complete three credit hours of learning in either accounting theory, advanced finance and financial accounting and reporting, or non-profit accounting or auditing. They must complete nine semester hours of additional elective accounting courses beyond the elementary level.
Candidates must also complete 24 semester hours of business courses, including three hours of commercial law and regulation, which must address the Uniform Commercial Code to become a CPA. While accounting or business internships do not count toward the educational requirement, up to six hours of such internships may count toward the 150 credit hours requirement.
Featured Online Programs
Campus and Online Degree Options in Louisiana
An associate degree helps people who want to become a CPA begin a career in finance quickly. Most programs consist of 60 credit hours and provide a foundation in cost accounting, taxation, financial statement analysis, and payroll accounting. Learn More
A traditional bachelor’s degree in accounting generally consists of 120 credit hours and can be completed in an average of four years. Programs provide an understanding of introductory, intermediate, and advanced accounting concepts, as well as general business and management. Learn More
A master’s degree in accounting is helpful for professionals who intend to apply for administrative or leadership roles in finance. It’s also necessary to achieve CPA licensure. Programs consist of 60 credit hours and take approximately two years to complete. Learn More
Doctorate or PhD
A doctoral degree in accounting prepares graduates for work in top positions in the field such as professors, CFOs, researchers, managers, and government policymakers. Programs consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours and take four to seven years to complete. Learn More
Online Degree Programs
Online degree programs are available at most educational levels and are ideal for students who require flexible scheduling options or already work full-time. Individuals should give preference to programs accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). Learn More
How to Sit for the CPA Exam in Louisiana
Once you complete the educational requirements, and have been a resident of Louisiana for at least four months, you may sit for the Uniform CPA Examination. Now you are on your way to becoming a CPA. Next, you need to register for the exam online at CPA Examination Services. You'll need to complete the application forms; make sure to have in the packet your original college transcripts, and also pay you application fee and exam fee. If a student attended an out-of-state or international school and did not take courses meeting Louisiana requirements or process, you must petition the board of accountancy via an Application for Course Substitution. Provide course descriptions on this application and mail the packet to:
CPA Examination Services – Louisiana Coordinator
P.O. Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219-8469
Once your application is accepted, you will receive a Notice to Schedule from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) via your chosen method; either email, fax, or regular post. Between scheduling your exam date and actually taking the test, most applicants go through a CPA review course or similar service to ensure a higher test score. While this isn't a requirement, there's no reason not to consider completing one of these programs or at least keeping your eyes open for any free resources that might help you learn or review terms and skills before you take the exam.
The CPA exam is held in five Louisiana cities: Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Bossier, Lake Charles, and Metairie. You can visit the Prometric website in order to schedule your exam. Plan to arrive at the testing center on the test date at least half an hour before the exam is scheduled to begin in order to get through security and ask any questions. You will receive your scores in the mail and you can find them online 48 hours after the exam date. The four sections of the exam are auditing and attestation (AUD), business environment and concepts (BEC), financial accounting and reporting (FAR), and regulation (REG).
After you pass the CPA exam, candidates must obtain 2,000 hours or one year of practical experience before becoming eligible for a CPA license. All experience requires supervision by a licensed CPA. All experience must take place within four years of licensure application. Candidates may derive experience from employment in an office in academia, government, non-profit organizations, private industry or public practice. Experience must include at least one of the following:
- Management Advisory
- Financial Advisory
The supervising CPA must affirm all experience in a letter written on company letterhead, which is sent along with the license application. This letter must have:
- Job title
- Employment dates
- Job description
For part-time employees, payroll information, time sheets and productivity records are required. If the candidate worked in academia, the titles of the college courses taught, and their dates must be included.
Get Your License in Louisiana
After meeting your experience and other requirements, you may apply for licensure or CPA certification as a CPA in Louisiana. Download the Application for a Certificate for a Certified Public Accountant. Complete the application and also send the supervising CPA letter on experience, your official school transcripts and the appropriate fees, with a check made payable to the State Board of CPAs of Louisiana. Mail the application to:
State Board of CPAs of Louisiana
601 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
The board meets four times a year, on the last business day of January, April, July and October. To consider your application, the board must receive it at least 30 days before the next scheduled meeting. Once the license is approved, the board of accountancy will contact you.
CPAs holding a license in another state with similar accounting requirements, you may apply for a reciprocal license in Louisiana. Currently, all states and U.S. territories with the exception of the Virgin Islands have equivalent requirements.
You must download the Application for a Reciprocal Certificate as a Certified Public Accountant, as well as the Authorization for Interstate Exchange of Licensure Information. Mail the latter form, along with applicable fees, to the state accountancy board holding your license. For the reciprocal certificate application, submit letters from supervising CPAs and document your qualifying experiences within the prior four years to the State Board of CPAs of Louisiana.
For sole practitioners, you must include a minimum of three letters from clients stating you have at least one year of experience in public accounting during the previous four years. You must also send in three character references from non-relatives who have known you more than one year. If you graduated from college after 1997, you must send college transcripts proving you meet the 150 credit hours graduation requirement.
Add payment for any applicable fees and send the packet to the State Board of CPAs of Louisiana. The board will examine your application and let you know if you have approval.
Continuing Professional Education Requirements
Louisiana CPAs must attain 120 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements every three years. For the first three years of licensing, CPE credits are pro-rated, so a first-year initial licensee needs only 80 credits until the next licensing period, and a second-year licensee requires 40 credits. The third-year licensee does not need to attain any credits that year but is subject to the 120-hour requirement once their license is renewed. At the time of renewal, all CPAs must furnish a signed statement of their CPE hours.
In most states before you can take the cpa exam, you will need to fulfill an ethics exam. In Georgia according to the boards of accountancy, you are not required to take an ethics exam but you are required to take two hours of ethics credit.Of the 120 hours, two hours of professional ethics are required. Personal development cannot count for more than 30 CPE hours. A program hour is at least 50 minutes to qualify as one CPE hour. For those working in attestation, a minimum of 24 CPE hours must include that subject.
Formats for CPE credits include:
- Credited college or university courses, with one semester hour equal to 15 CPE hours
- Non-credited college or university courses, with one semester hour equivalent to one CPE hour
- Self-study programs
- Formal group programs
- Approved correspondence courses
- In-house educational programs
- National and state CPA chapter technical meetings
- Completion of exams for certified financial planner, certified management accountant or certified information systems auditor. This credit may not account for more than half of CPE credits. The credits are awarded at five time the length of each exam.
CPE credits are available for those serving as lecturers, speakers or teachers, but cannot make up more than half of CPE credits. Writing books or articles or CPE programs cannot make up more than 25 percent of CPE credits.
It is important to maintain CPE records for at least five years. This information includes:
- Course sponsor
- Course location
- Certificate of completion or attendance
- Dates attended
- Course title and content description
- CPE hours claimed
- Transcripts for college or university courses
- Publication evidence for articles and books.
Accountant Career Concentrations & Salaries in Louisiana
Financial advisors are responsible for providing recommendations on managing finances to individuals and businesses. These professionals require a bachelor’s degree in related field and may choose concentrations in estate planning, tax, investment, and risk management. Most work in general services but specialize in tax law or retirement.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
CPAs are accountants who are licensed to practice in their state. Requirements vary, but most CPAs must earn undergraduate and graduate degrees, have professional accounting experience, and successfully pass the CPA Exam. Their primary function is to help clients plan and meet financial goals, but they often assist with other financial matters as well. Learn More
Auditors are responsible for ensuring individuals, commercial businesses, and non-profit organizations are managing their finances accurately. They are often brought in to examine financial statements, inspect account books, organize fiscal records, assess financial operations, and make recommendations for improvement. A bachelor’s degree is required, while earning additional certifications is recommended. Learn More
Forensic accountants are responsible for analyzing financial records are compliant with standards and laws. They are responsible for uncovering errors, spotting omissions, and identifying financial fraud. These professionals need a bachelor’s degree and require some additional certifications. Additionally, most earn CPA credentials and or become certified fraud examiners (CFEs). Learn More
Accountants are doing better and better in Louisiana. For instance, in 2014, their median salary was $57,408. In 2017, the BLS showed the mean wage at $65,930. Across the state, salaries do vary from town to town, but overall accountants are making comparable wages regardless of where they are employed. However, the top mean wage was $43,600 in Lafayette and the bottom mean wage was $50,600 in Natchitoches non-metropolitan area. Your salary is bound to rise when you attain higher-status credentials, however. For instance, forensic accountants in New Orleans earn between $70,785 and $110,385 per year, before bonuses or benefits are accounted for.
|City||Annual Median Wage|
|Natchitoches non-metropolitan area||$50,600|
|Entry Level||Mid Career||Late Career|
Louisiana Accounting Frequently Asked Questions
Does Louisiana have many accounting jobs available?
According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the state of Louisiana had 11,980 jobs for accounting professionals in 2019. While opportunities are available throughout the state, the majority of positions are available in Lafayette and Bossier City.
How much can you earn with an accounting degree in Louisiana?
Pay varies and is often determined by the level of education completed, years of professional experience, certifications earned, and your specific job title. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average annual wage for accountants in Louisiana was $66,230 in 2019. Cities with the highest reported wages include Lake Charles, Lafayette, Monroe, and Alexandria.
Which Louisiana accounting programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)?
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) has the highest accreditation standards for accounting programs. Colleges and universities accredited by AACSB must undergo a rigorous process and offer some of the best accounting programs available. The following schools hold AACSB accreditation:
- Louisiana Tech University
- Nicholls State University
- Southern Louisiana University
- University of Louisiana at Lafayette
- University of Louisiana at Monroe
- University of New Orleans
Are scholarships available for Louisiana accounting students?
Many colleges and universities (such as Louisiana State University) offer scholarships for current and future accounting students. Additionally, the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants awards scholarships in varying amounts to full-time undergraduate students enrolled in a four-year Louisiana institution. They also offer a single scholarship to an accounting major enrolled in a masters or doctoral program.
Do colleges in Louisiana offer online accounting programs?
Distance learning is a great option for accounting students requiring more flexible scheduling options in Louisiana. There are several colleges and universities that offer online and hybrid programs. Among others, Northwestern State offers an online Bachelor of Science Accounting degree and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has a master of science in accounting available.