If your goal is to become a CPA in New York you've made a wise choice: while the 10 year national projected job growth for CPAs is 10 percent in New York it's projected at a robust 21 percent. That said; there are strident rules to become a New York CPA. Your first step should be to verify your program is accredited by the State Department of Education or the New York State Board of Regents before you begin so you know your education will be accepted.


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Education Requirements to become a Licensed NY CPA

The educational requirements to become licensed are very specific. You must have earned at least a Bachelor's degree and completed a minimum of 150 college level credit hours including 33 hours in accounting courses and 36 hours of business courses. Each of these requirements must be fulfilled as follows and all classes must be above the introduction level:

The 33 hours of accounting courses must be from the following subjects:

  • Accounting information systems
  • Auditing and attestation services (must be earned from junior, senior, or graduate level; also satisfies the Ethics and Professional Responsibilities requirement. Minimum one course required)
  • Cost or managerial accounting (may be earned at a community college, minimum one course required)
  • Financial accounting and reporting (junior, senior, or graduate level, minimum one course)
  • Fraud examination
  • Internal controls and risk assessment
  • Taxation (may be earned at a community college; also satisfies the Accounting Research requirement; minimum one course required)

Each required subject has a wide range of course titles to choose from so you can customize your study to the area of accounting in which you plan to practice. Here are some course examples of each area of accounting study:

Financial accounting and reporting:

  • Accounting for governmental and nonprofit purposes
  • Accounting principles
  • Advanced accounting
  • Accounting theory
  • Corporate financial reporting
  • Financial accounting
  • Financial reporting
  • Financial statement analysis
  • Intermediate accounting
  • Principles of accounting

Cost or managerial accounting:

  • Advanced cost management
  • Cost accounting
  • Cost management
  • Managerial accounting

Taxation

  • Advanced taxation
  • Basic taxation
  • Business taxation
  • Corporate taxation
  • Individual taxation
  • International taxation
  • Taxation of business entities

Auditing and attestation services:

  • Advanced auditing
  • Auditing
  • Auditing and assurance services
  • Auditing and attestation
  • Principles of auditing

Accounting research:

  • Accounting research
  • Accounting theory
  • Auditing
  • Corporate taxation
  • Individual taxation
  • Tax research

The 36 hours of general business courses must be a combination of the following subjects:

  • Business law
  • Business statistics
  • Business strategy
  • Computer science
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Information technology and systems
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Operations management
  • Organizational behavior
  • Quantitative methods

In addition, these two specific subjects are required and may come from the business areas or may be taken from the Liberal Arts department:

  • Ethics and Professional Responsibilities
  • Business and Accounting Communications

The Ethics and Professional Responsibilities requirement can be met with a class such as:

  • Business ethics
  • Business law
  • Commercial law

Samples of classes that will meet the Business and Accounting Communications are:

  • Accounting communications
  • Business communications
  • Business writing
  • International business communications
  • Managerial communications
  • Professional speaking

Once you have your Bachelor's degree and have met the educational requirements you will be eligible to sit for the CPA exam, which is your next step to becoming a licensed New York CPA.

How to Apply for the New York State CPA Exam

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The New York CPA exam is overseen by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) so your first step will be to register an account with the association, which you can do online using a credit card. If you're not sure whether you meet the academic requirements they offer an Advisory Evaluation; otherwise you'll need to submit your application and applicable fees as well as your school transcripts. Transcripts must be submitted directly from your school or schools to CPA Examination Services (CPAES) and NASBA allows 45 days for the process. If you need special accommodations due to disability you should submit the request at this time, too. Once all documentation is received you'll receive an acknowledgement of completion via email and within two to four weeks your application will be processed.

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Fees

The CPA exam consists of four parts that can be taken individually or all at once. You'll need to score at least 75 percent on each section and may take a failed section again but must pass all four sections within an 18-month time frame. Besides the initial application fee there is a fee for each test section as well as a registration fee to sit for the exam. The test sections and fee structure is as follows:

Application fee $150.00
Examination Fees:
Auditing and Attestation (AUD) $208.40
Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) $208.40
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) $208.40
Regulation (REG) $208.40

Because the registration fee is for the testing facility it is the same amount whether you register for one test section or all four. You should plan to only register for the test sections you can complete within a six month time frame:

1 examination section $75.00
2 examination sections $75.00
3 examination sections $75.00
4 examination sections $75.00

If you fail one or more sections of the test you will be required to pay an additional testing fee as well as a registration fee but not the application fee.

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How to sit for the New York CPA exam

Once your application is complete, all fees are paid, and your application has been processed you'll receive a Notice to Sit (NTS). You're required to show the NTS in order to be admitted to the exam location so keep it in a safe place.

New York CPA exams are given at Prometric Test Centers which are located throughout New York City as well as Albany, Buffalo, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, and Rye. Once you receive your NTS you'll schedule your exams via the Prometrics website.

You should plan to arrive at the testing site about an hour before your scheduled testing time. You'll be required to show a valid photo identification as well as your NTS to enter the exam and will be allowed no other personal items during the test. Prometrics will supply a secure locker for your other personal items.

Each exam section is allotted four hours to complete. Both AICPA and NASBA offer resources to help you practice for the test sections and you should plan to study hard before attempting the test.

You'll receive your scores anywhere for 48 hours to two weeks after the exam; Prometrics will have a schedule posted to let you know when scores will be available.


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Required Experience

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Once you've successfully passed all four sections of the New York CPA exam you'll need to meet the experience requirements before you're eligible for licensure. New York requires one year of full-time experience working between 35 and 40 hours a week under the guidance of a licensed CPA. Alternatively you can work part-time at least 20 hours per week with two weeks being counted as one week for the year requirement.

Your work experience must meet specific requirements, too. It must involve the practice of accounting consultation or services using skills related to:

  • Accounting
  • Auditing and attestation
  • Compilation
  • Financial or tax consulting
  • Management advisory services

The work must be documented and performed under the supervision of a licensed CPA or New York licensed accountant; it can be performed at a range of industries such as:

  • An educational institution
  • A government agency
  • A private industrial firm
  • A private organization
  • A public accounting firm

Once your work experience is met you'll fill out a Certification of Employer form and give it to your employer. Your employer in turn will fill out their required sections and submit it directly to the New York State Board of Education for processing. If you've had more than one employer while gaining your year of experience you'll need to submit a separate form for each employer.

New York Licensing Requirements

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Besides the educational, exam, and work requirements in New York you must be at least 21 years old and of good moral character to apply for your CPA license. The license application fee is $377 and must be submitted with your application; if there is an interim raise in fee amount you will be billed for the balance.

Your application will request all of your pertinent personal information as well as any criminal history or current charges. You must have the form notarized before submission and your work experience forms should be included with the application; your educational and exam requirements should already be on file with the state via your NASBA application. Once your completed application is processed You'll receive your certificate and become a certified public accountant in New York state.

Renewal and Continuing Education

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In New York you'll need to renew your CPA license every three years. During the first renewal cycle you won't be required to complete any professional continuing education (CPE) but after the first renewal you'll be required to complete the following CPE each year of the three-year period:

A minimum of 40 hours of formal education in the accepted subjects or a minimum of 24 hours of accepted formal education in a single accepted subject.

The following activities are considered as CPE:

  • Taking a live CPE course within the state
  • Taking a live CPE course outside the state that is presented by a NASBA approved provider
  • Completing a self-study course by a New York registered provider
  • Preparing and teaching a sponsored CPE college course (first time only)
  • Authoring an article that is published in a journal
  • Publishing a book in a CPE subject area

Approved subjects for CPE requirements are:

  • Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Advisory Services
  • Attestation
  • Specialized knowledge and applications pertaining to specialized industries
  • Taxation

Four hours of continuing education in professional ethics must be included in each three-year window, with credit given to the annual period in which the course was completed.

You will be required to maintain detailed records of your CPE work so you should verify the following as you complete each course:

  • The title of the course
  • The sponsor's name
  • The sponsor's New York ID number
  • The name of the program
  • The course subject area
  • The number of CPE credits awarded
  • The date and location of the course

You are required to retain your CPE records for a five-year period so it's a good idea to set up a file system for CPE as soon as you receive your New York CPA license.


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