Interested in learning what’s required before you’re able to get your certified public accountant (CPA) license? Read on for more information about CPA licensure in Montana.


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Education Required Before Your Exam

According to the Montana Board of Public Accountants, CPA candidates must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in an accounting field while accruing 150 semester hours of credit.

In order to qualify towards your exam requirements, credit hours must contain:

24 semester hours of undergraduate (upper level) or graduate level courses, including the following class topics:

  • Auditing
  • Financial accounting
  • Management accounting
  • Taxation

24 semester hours in related business classes, including:

  • Business law
  • Communication skills
  • Economics
  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • Information systems
  • Marketing
  • Organizational behavior
  • Quantitative applications in business

Credits obtained in online courses, CLEP programs, and correspondence courses are acceptable as long as they come from an accredited college or university. Community college credits are also acceptable to the Board.

Sitting for the Uniform CPA Exam

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Once you’ve completed your degree and required semester hours, you may be eligible to take the Uniform CPA Exam. This is the next step in acquiring your license to practice accounting in Montana.

Apply for the exam online or download the application forms at the CPA Examination Services (CPAES) website.

Send in your application, along with the following required documentation:

  • A copy of your official college transcript (contact the registrar’s office of your college to request that this be sent directly to CPAES)
  • Attestation and Affidavit Form, signed in front of a Notary Public
  • 2” x 2” passport-style photograph of your head and shoulders
  • Payment in the form of check or money order payable to CPA Examination Services, or submit a credit card form if paying by mail with a credit card
  • ADA Modification Form (if requesting accommodation for a disability)

Send completed application, with all forms, to CPA Examination Services – Montana Coordinator, P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219-8469.

Wait for the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to send your Notice to Schedule. You’ll receive this notification by mail, email, or fax, depending on the choice you select at time of registering.

Visit the Prometric website to schedule your exam. Montana testing locations are in Helena and Billings. Be sure to arrive on time for your test.

Wait to receive your scores in the mail. Results are generally sent within two to three weeks of your exam date.

Work Experience Required Before CPA Licensure

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Once you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! You’ve completed the first level of Montana’s two-tier CPA system. After completing the CPA Exam, you’ll receive a CPA certificate. While this qualifies you to be employed as an accountant, you may not practice on your own or be listed as an active CPA until you reach the second tier.

CPA candidates working toward a Permit to Practice must complete the following:

First, you must pass the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)’s Home Study Course on Professional Ethics.

Log the work experience required by the board prior to licensure. This must include a minimum of one full year (2000 hours) of supervised practice, and must meet the following criteria:

  • Must take place in a public, private, governmental or academic accounting office
  • Can be either full or part time, as long as total hourly requirements are satisfied
  • Must be completed within three years of the time you apply for your Permit to Practice
  • Must be supervised by a practicing CPA with a valid Permit to Practice
  • Must be comprehensive and relevant to an accounting career

Have your supervisor complete the Evidence of Satisfaction of Experience Requirements form. This must be submitted with your application at the end of the process.


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Getting Your CPA Certification and Permit to Practice

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Montana’s two tier system means that accountants who wish to actively practice must apply for both their CPA Certificate and Permit to Practice. If you aren’t seeking to practice and just want to certification for your resume, the Certificate may be enough. However, most CPAs who intend to practice accounting on their own opt to apply for both at the same time.

Here are the requirements before you’re able to complete both tiers:

1

Certification only:

  • Bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours from an accredited college or university
  • Completed and passed the Uniform CPA Exam
  • Completed and passed the AICPA Ethics Exam
2

Certification and permit to practice:

  • Bachelor’s degree and 150 semester hours from an accredited college or university
  • Completed and passed the Uniform CPA Exam
  • Completed and passed the AICPA Ethics Exam
  • Complete one full year (2000 hours) of applicable work experience
  • Have supervising CPA complete the Evidence of Satisfaction of Experience Requirements form

Here’s how to apply:

Submit the Application for Original Certification/Permit to Practice to the Montana Board of Public Accountants

Along with your application, you’ll need to submit the following:

  • An official college transcript (submitted directly from an accredited college or university)
  • Three Verification of Moral Character References (found in the application packet)
  • Financial Statement Disclosure Form (found in the application packet)
  • Evidence of Satisfaction of Experience Requirement (found in the application packet)
  • Application fee of $150, payable to Montana Board of Public Accountants

Mail all of the required documentation to Montana Board of Public Accountants, 301 South Park – 4th Floor, P.O. Box 200513, Helena, MT 59620-0513.

Maintaining Your Montana CPA License

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Now that you’ve finally obtained your CPA licensure, you’ll want to make sure you stay in good standing with the Board. Here’s how to make sure you’re up to speed on your accounting knowledge with continuing professional education (CPE).

You’ll need to complete at least 120 hours of CPE every three years to remain active as a CPA in Montana. Here’s what you need to know:

At least two hours every three years must be logged in an ethics course.

The reporting period ends on June 30th. Any excess hours logged in May or June may carry over to the next three year long reporting period. Inversely, if you find yourself short on hours at the end of June, you may continue to log hours in July and August to meet your requirement.

Approved credit topics include:

  • Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Business law
  • Communication arts
  • Computer science
  • Consulting
  • Economics
  • Ethics
  • Management
  • Mathematics and applications
  • Personal development
  • Specialized areas of industry (relevant to your accounting career)
  • Taxation

Credit hours may take the following forms:

  • College credit or non-credit courses
  • Structured educational programs, committees, and/or meetings
  • Professional development programs
  • Lecturing and public speaking
  • Self-study under the guidance of a National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) CPE sponsor
  • Publishing books and papers (no more than 25 percent of credit hours)

Report all hours logged to the Montana Board of Public Accountants every three years

You may also consider joining the Montana Society of Certified Public Accountants to stay in the loop about goings-on within the state.


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