Though accountancy is as old as trade itself, the profession continues to grow and expand. CPAs are now found auditing IT departments, and they naturally make use of the latest technology when working in finance, or any other field. If you wish to join the elite community of accounting professionals who hold CPA licenses, you will need to undergo a rigorous path. Each state has its own standards for incoming CPA licensees, and New Mexico is no different. Keep reading to learn how to become a CPA in New Mexico.
New Mexico's Educational Standards for CPAs
The largest, and most time-consuming, aspect of your journey to become a CPA is your education. New Mexico has unique standards for your undergraduate and post-grad work. Naturally, you will need a minimum of a bachelor's degree to proceed. In fact, you need 150 semester hours to attain your license, though the Board allows you to start sitting for your CPA examination after you complete enough for a baccalaureate degree – 120 semester hours.
The Board will scrutinize your transcripts upon your application. They ask that you complete 30 hours in accounting, auditing, or related courses. Thus you will need to select your courses wisely. The courses you might take include, but are not limited to:
- Financial reporting
- Financial analysis
- Macro economics
- Micro economics
- Business law (maximum 3 semester hours will count)
- Government and nonprofit accounting
- Computer science
- Business writing and communications
- Internal reporting
New Mexico isn't far afield from other states in their required credits or courses, but they do differ in one area: academic context. That is, they insist that at least 15 hours of your education be taken in-person and/or on a campus.
The Board will recognize pass/fail courses, CLEP, and community college work provided that the institutions were appropriately accredited. Though you might wish to take one or more CPA examination preparation courses, the Board does not recognize commercial courses of this sort. However, if you take a preparation course through an accredited institution, and the course is not redundant on your transcript, you may count those credits toward your licensure requirements.
Since you will need a total of 150 semester hours to apply for your licensure, consider your first 120 hours carefully. You might choose a different major altogether and then finish off your requirements with 30 hours in accounting and/or business. You could also consider completing your requirements in graduate school.
Accrediting standards of the New Mexico Public Accountancy Board
While you must complete a minimum of a bachelor's degree and 150 semester hours, including 30 hours of accounting courses, the board wants an assurance that your education is of an acceptable quality. One primary way to show this is by attending a school that is accredited by an accrediting agency deemed acceptable by the Board. Make sure that your coursework has been approved by one of the following accrediting agencies:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
If your college or university is accredited by some other institution, ask your academic adviser if your work will satisfy the New Mexico Board. Some business departments have been accredited by subject-specific agencies and the Board will likely recognize them.
Before you qualify to sit for the CPA examination in New Mexico, you must first complete a minimum of 120 credits for your baccalaureate degree. When you feel you are ready, have your official transcripts sent to the offices of CPA Examining Services (CPAES):
CPA Examination Services
New Mexico Coordinator
P.O. Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219
To complete the rest of your application, visit the CPAES website. There, you can submit your application and pay all of your fees via a secured credit card transaction.
Once the CPAES has received and accepted your application, you will receive a Notice to Schedule your exam. You can schedule your exam with a local Prometric site. In New Mexico, you can find a testing site in one of these towns:
- Los Cruces
- Santa Fe
Four parts of the Uniform CPA examination
The CPA exam is difficult for many reasons. One of which is that it's a multi-stage process. There are four parts to the exam and you must pass each of them. Note that once you pass one portion, you must pass the other three within 18 months. The four parts take four hours each and they are:
Business Environment and Concepts:
This portion is comprised of 62 multiple-choice questions, 4 simulations, and 3 written items. Your knowledge of financial reporting, taxes, audits, and attest will be put to the test. You will also need to demonstrate a high level of verbal ability.
Financial Accounting and Reporting:
When you sit for the FAR portion, you will face 66 multiple-choice questions and 8 simulations. You will be tested on your knowledge of several reporting standards, including the SEC.
This exam is composed of 76 multiple-choice questions and 8 task-based simulations. Here, your ethical, professional, and legal responsibilities will be put to the test. The test covers federal and state laws, as well as the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct.
Auditing and Attestation:
This four hour test is comprised of: 72 multiple-choice questions and 8 task-based simulations. You will need thorough knowledge of the International Accounting Standards as well as auditing standards in the United States. You will also need to have a firm grasp on auditing standards for government agencies, non-profits, publicly held corporations, and private industry. Remember to demonstrate your ethical values during this exam.
Experience Needed for your CPA License
The New Mexico Board requires one full year of accounting experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. You can complete your work experience in government, industry, academia, or public practice.
Upon completion of your tenure, you should have a completed account of the skills you have employed in a professional context. Your supervisor should then sign off on your work in a notarized document. Specifically, you will need to submit a Work Verification Form from the Board. The skills you should account for can include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
- Financial advisory
- Management advisory
- Tax preparation
- Accounting-related software programming and development.
A prerequisite for the experience portion of your CPA license application is the ethics exam. This is a take-home exam that is offered by the AICPA. It's a necessary part of the licensure process and your future employers will appreciate that you have completed it. You may order the test from the AICPA or from the New Mexico Society of CPAs. The NMSCPA offers the independent-study course in two formats: text and electronic. The electronic version costs $20 less and is accessible within 24 hours of payment. You'll have to wait for the paper version. Note that all standard web browsers except for Internet Explorer support the electronic version.
CPA Licensure Requirements
The four basic components of a successful licensure application in New Mexico are: education, experience, examination, and ethics.
You should hold a bachelor's degree with a major concentration in accounting and a total of 150 semester hours of college or graduate work. Included in your official transcripts the Board will look for a minimum of 30 semester hours of coursework in accounting or business.
Your experience should be one full year under the supervision of a licensed CPA in either private industry, public accounting, government, or academia. Upon completion of the experiential portion, you must submit a Work Verification Form that you can receive from the Board.
To become a CPA, you will need to pass all four parts of the Uniform CPA Examination as given by the AICPA. You will take all four parts at a Prometric site at your convenience. Note that once you pass one part, you must pass the other three exams within 18 months.
New Mexico also requires that you pass an ethics exam. You can purchase the materials for this course and test through the NMSCPA, a state association of CPAs. This test should be taken prior to embarking on the experiential portion of the process.
CPE Requirements for New Mexico CPAs
After you have your license, your work is not over. The Board requires that all CPAs undergo 120 hours of continuing education every three years. You must also take a minimum of 20 hours per year. There are specific guidelines for these hours. You will need to account for 96 of these CPE hours in technical courses, including, but not limited to:
- Management advisory
- Financial advisory
You must also complete 4 hours studying ethics and the remaining 20 hours should be spent in relevant seminars or courses. Note that 50 minutes is equivalent to an hour's worth of CPEs.
Appropriate courses can be found through accredited colleges or universities, the AICPA, NMSCPA, or other professional organizations. You can complete many hours while attending accounting conferences.