The demand for accountants nationwide is expected to grow 10 percent between 2016 and 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The outlook is even stronger in Michigan where growth is forecast at 14 percent between 2014 and 2024. By that point there will be 33,550 accountants employed in the state with an estimated 1,190 job openings annually. And with demand on the rise, expect the 2016 median salary of $64,790 to rise as well. If you're ready to take your first steps down an exciting career path, learn how to become a CPA in Michigan:
Meet the Michigan Education Requirements
CPAs operate at the highest level of the accounting world. That is why the Michigan State Board of Accountancy require all CPAs to meet minimum education requirements in order to earn a professional license. Follow these steps to satisfy the requirements.
Enroll in an accounting program at a four-year institution that is accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies. If there is any confusion about whether a program is eligible, inquire with administrators before enrollment
Complete 150 total semester hours and earn a bachelor's degree that is concentrated on accounting. Education that is earned outside of the United States is acceptable as long as it is reviewed and approved by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) International Evaluation Service.
- The degree program must include 3 semester hours in auditing.
- It must also include 21 semester hours in accounting subjects - Financial Accounting and Accounting Theory, Managerial Accounting including Cost Accounting, Accounting Systems and Controls, U.S. Federal Taxation, or Governmental/Fund Accounting.
- The final requirement is 24 semester hours in a general business subjects.
- If you are able to meet the above requirements while pursuing a degree not concentrated on accounting it still fulfills the state's education requirement.
Classes taken at a community college, online, for AP credit, in a pass/fail situation, or through correspondence courses are all acceptable as long as the credit is recognized and recorded on the official transcript from the four-year college that grants the degree.
Pass the Uniform CPA Exam
In order to demonstrate you have the skills and competencies required of all CPAs you must pass a standardized exam used in every state:
You are eligible as long as you have met the education requirement, earned at least 120 of the 150 required hours, or plan to reach either mark within 30 days of taking the exam.
- Register for the exam with the CPA Examination Services (CPAES). Either register online or download application forms to submit through the mail.
- Request an official transcript from the intuition where you graduated. Electronic submission is preferred, but if this is not possible transcripts may be submitted in a sealed official envelope.
- If you are have met the education requirement, submit the exam application, transcript, and any exam fees to the CPA Examination Services – Michigan Coordinator, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219-8469.
- If you have not yet completed 150 semester hours, submit your application, transcript, and a Certificate of Enrollment form. The final document is completed by your college registrar.
- If you require any special accommodations during your examination, include an ADA Accommodation request form with your other application documents. If you met the education requirements outside the US, include an International Evaluation report.
The NASBA will notify you whether or not you're approved to take the exam. You can request to be notified by email, fax, or mail.
Use the Prometric website to find a testing facility near you, then sign up for a testing date that accommodates your schedule. There are testing facilities throughout the state:
- Ann Arbor
- Auburn Hills
- Grand Rapids
- Sault Ste Marie
Research what information is on the exam and study extensively in advance. Passing the exam is essential to advance your CPA career, and the cost of taking it is high. Repeat attempts is negative for you both personally and professional, so prepare profusely and arrive at the testing location at least an hour early.
Exam scores are accessible online 48 hours after the test is completed. An official declaration of scores is sent to you through the mail.
Satisfy the Michigan Experience Requirement
It's extremely important for CPAs to have core competencies and standardized skills. But, like most jobs, a lot of the a CPA's actual abilities are learned on the job. That is why the Michigan State Board of Accountancy requires CPA candidates to earn practical work experience before becoming eligible for licensure:
You must earn at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job experience. This is equivalent to about one year of full-time employment. The experience must meet several conditions:
- Be located in academia, private sector, public sector, or government
- Last for at least 1 year but be completed in less than 5 years
- Take place under the supervision of a CPA with an active license
- Experience earned in academia must occur over at least four academic semesters of teaching at least six credit hours per semester.
Regardless of what setting the practical work experience takes place in it must involve at least one of these skills approved by the state board:
- Reviewing, auditing, and compiling financial statements
- Other auditing activities including operational audits, compliance audits, or reviews of internal controls
- Preparing income tax or non-profit tax returns
- Doing financial forecasts and analyses
- Offering management advisory services including forensic auditing, business valuation, and fraud examination
Have the supervising CPA complete the Verification of Qualifying Experience form found in the CPA examination packet. Both you and the supervisor sign this form before submitting it to the state board.
Apply for a Michigan CPA License
The final step before becoming a licensed CPA is to apply for licensure. Before starting the process, review the previous steps and verify that you have met the minimum requirements for education, exam, and experience. Then follow these steps to complete the application process:
Use the online license application portal to complete the Michigan license application. First-time users must register with the system before accessing the documents.
Complete the Education Evaluation form verifying you have met the minimum educational requirements. If you have a master's in accounting or master's in business administration with at least 12 semester hours of accounting coursework this form is not necessary.
Include certified copies of you exam scores if you took the Uniform CPA Exam in a state besides Michigan.
Send an official copy of your college transcript and payment via check or money order to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, P.O. Box 30670, Lansing, MI 48909. All other documents are submitted electronically through the online portal
Wait for the state board to review your application and award/deny a CPA license.
If you have a CPA license in another state (excluding Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico) it's possible to transfer it to Michigan. Applicants must have earned 150 semester hours of education, passed the Uniform CPA exam, and worked at least one year as a CPA. Then they can apply for licensure as follow:
- Complete the Application for CPA Certificate and License/Registration by Reciprocity: US Jurisdictions Only. Do the same for the Certification of CPA Certificate and Grades form.
- Send all applicable forms along with a check or money order to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs address listed above.
Keep Up With Continuing Education
A Michigan CPA license must be renewed every two years. As a condition of renewal, all active CPAs must meet minimum requirements for continuing professional education (CPE):
CPAs must complete at least 40 hours of CPE every year with certain conditions:
- At least 8 hours must be in accounting and auditing subjects
- A maximum of 20 hours may be earned through self-study
- A minimum of 2 hours must be in professional ethics
- Only one year of CPE requirement (eg. 8 hours of auditing) may be carried over from one year to the next.
CPE hours are offered though a number of programs and outlets, but they must meet certain conditions set by the state:
- Group programs must include written certification of attendance.
- Non-credit college courses count as 1 hour. College courses for credit count for 15 hours.
- One hour of working as an instructor, speaker, teacher, or discussion leader is equal to 3 hours of CPE. Instructing cannot make up more than 20 hours of CPE per year.
- Self-study programs must provide a certificate of completion.
All CPE earned must be focused on an approved accounting subject. The list below is comprehensive but not complete.
- Management Advisory
- Business Law
- Business Valuation
Keep records on all completed CPE going back 4 years. Records must include the place/time of the program, a description of the content, title/sponsor of the program, and written verification of attendance.