Meet the Expert
Joe T Collinsworth

Ohio is a growing, exciting business environment. As such, the state is always in need of more CPAs to help ensure that the books are balanced, the operations audited, and the taxes are filed. If you wish to become a CPA, you have a rewarding, exciting career ahead of you. First, though, each state has specific requirements for new, and renewing CPAs. Ohio is no different. This page is about becoming a CPA in Ohio.

Required Degree and Courses for Ohio CPAs

Accountants are studious people. That's mainly because they have to study so hard to attain a CPA license. In Ohio, you will have to complete 150 semester hours, or the quarterly equivalent. You might also substitute graduate hours.

Included in the 150 total hours required by the Board, you should include 30 semester hours in accounting courses and another 24 in business classes. Your accounting courses should include:

  • Financial accounting
  • Management accounting
  • Auditing – but not internal audits
  • Taxation
  • Professional accountancy ethics and obligations

Your 24 hours of business electives can include, but are not limited to:

  • Business law
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Finance
  • Ethics – general ethics or business ethics
  • Statistics
  • Computer science
  • Business communications
  • Psychology or sociology (one course in either department)
  • Economics

If you have attended a college or university that uses the quarter system, each quarter hour will count as 2/3 of a semester hour. For those who are pursuing a CPA license from graduate school, each graduate credit hour will count as 5/3 of an undergraduate semester hour. Thus, 18 graduate hours in accounting will satisfy the credits needed for your accounting courses.



Not only must your education satisfy the number of hours required by the Board, but your work must also be of a satisfactory quality. In order to determine whether your education will be fully recognized for licensure, check on your college or university's accreditation status. That is, your institution must have received a regional accreditation from one of the following institutions:

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Exam requirements


Before you sit for the AICPA's Uniform CPA Examination, you must satisfy the Board's requirements. For starters, you must be at least 18 years old and have completed the 150 semester-hour requirement. However, there is an exception for those who hold a baccalaureate or associate's degree. If you hold one of these degrees, have completed the required 30 semester hours of accounting coursework, 24 hours of business coursework, and have scored 620 or better on the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) then the board will accept your application to sit for the CPA exam.

To verify your education, you must send official transcripts along with your application. You may mail these transcripts yourself, but they must be in sealed envelops from your institution. It may be easier to have your school mail the documents directly, as that saves time.

If you are concerned that some of your credits might not be accepted by the Board, NASBA offers evaluation services. Their CPA Central website will assist you in this process. Given the importance of your education to your CPA license, if you have any questionable items on your transcript, this service might be in your best interest.

Your application should include the required fees, which are currently $140, transcripts, and the examination fee. The test fee is either $185.10 or $207.15, depending on which section you are taking. Payments are accepted via credit card only. You can submit an application and make all of your payments via the website. NASBA oversees the CPA Examination Services

Send all of the hard copy items in your application to CPA Examination Services at:

CPA Examination Services – OH
PO Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219


Taking the CPA exam for Ohio licensure

Once your application is accepted, you will receive an invitation to sit for the exam. It is vital that you immediately begin the process of scheduling a test time with an Ohio Prometric location. There are many Prometric testing sites statewide, including the following cities:

  • Maumee
  • Worthington
  • Strongsville
  • Beavercreek
  • Cleveland
  • Stow
  • Cincinnati
  • Mentor
  • Niles

Note that there are four parts to the exam. Each is very difficult and pass rates hover around 50%, or less. Thus, you should study very hard for each part. Once you have passed one part, you will have an 18-month window in which to schedule, take, and pass the other three. Consider these passing rates from 2017:

Auditing and Attestation 48.5%
Business Environment and Concepts 53%
Financial Accounting and Reporting 44.4%
Regulation 47.2%

A passing grade on each test is 75 and you can check for your results at the NASBA website.


Exam sections

Each section of the test is allotted four hours. The sections are composed of either 66 and 76 multiple choice items, 4-8 task-based sections, and the BEC portion includes 3 written communications. The breakdown is:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD): 72 multiple-choice questions and 8 task-based simulations
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): 66 multiple-choice questions and 8 simulations
  • Business Environment and Concept (BEC): 62 multiple-choice questions, 4 simulations, and 3 written items
  • Regulation (REG): 76 multiple-choice questions and 8 task-based simulations

Experiential Portion of the Ohio CPA Licensure Process


In order to solidify your application with the Board, you must complete a period of supervised accountancy practice. Your supervisor must be a licensed CPA or hold a comparable credential from another nation. Your supervisor can also hold some comparable qualifications, such as a CPA certificate.

Though it's preferred that you complete the experience portion in the United States, you may work abroad and the board will evaluate your work and make a judgment accordingly. Your experience should include practice of one or more of the following:

  • Consulting services
  • Personal financial planning services
  • Corporate tax filing
  • Management advisory
  • Financial advisory
  • Auditing
  • Preparation of financial statements

During your tenure, it is imperative that you keep a strict accounting of your experience. For every area of accounting you practice, note your hours spent and make any pertinent notes that will verify your experience. You should then have your supervisor sign off on every area of your work. The final document should be notarized.

Ohio allows applicants to embark upon self-employment for this portion of their licensure process. If that is your intention, you will need to detail your experience and then have your three largest clients submit written statements. Each signed, notarized statement should detail the work you did for them, the start and end dates for that work, and an approximation of how many hours you spent.

Ohio Licensure Requirements


In order to become an Ohio CPA, you must first be a legal, adult resident of the state. This residency requirement is not required in every jurisdiction, so be sure that if you wish to practice in Ohio that you are a resident, and part of this means you must take your examinations in the state. Note that if you already have a CPA license or certification from another state, which can qualify you for a reciprocal license in Ohio.

If you are seeking a first-time licensure in Ohio, you must show proof that you have passed all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination. A passing grade is 75 and all four sections must be successfully completed within 18 months of your invitation to sit for the exam.

Additionally, you must take and pass a Board-approved professional standards and responsibilities (PSR) course. This course covers accountancy laws specific to Ohio and the Board's rules. Once you have completed the course, you must have its sponsor send the Board verification that you were successful. Finally, you should submit to a criminal background check from an approved source.

If you, or a friend, happen to have a felony conviction on your record, all is not lost. Ohio will hear appeals from felons. They will evaluate your case based on your academic achievements, your employment following completion of your sentence, as well as your other responsibilities and activities after your societal debt was paid. You might include statements from professional, academic, and legal contacts to help plea your case. For instance, you might have your probation officer, college professors, and employers provide statements that attest to your strong moral character. Note that you must be fully candid, as the board will seek any inconsistencies or misleading statements that might preclude a transparent view of yourself as a CPA candidate.

Along the road to CPA, you will receive email notifications of any missing or incomplete documents. The Board will also send notice of your certification date.

Continuing Professional Educational Units


Once you've achieved your Ohio CPA credentials, you will need to maintain your status with ongoing education. That means continuing professional education (CPE.) The Board only requires 120 hours for every three-year licensure period. However, when your license is new, the Board will ask for a mere 40 hours over the first two years.

Once you have begun your first triennial period, the state will require a minimum of 20 hours every year. The triennial period begins on January 1 and ends December 31 three years hence. If you are unable to complete 20 hours in a year, the board will issue a fine of $10 for every hour you lack. Keep in mind that your specialty may carry special CPE requirements.

If you work in financial reporting, whether in or out of public accounting, the Board requires that you dedicate a minimum of 24 hours to accounting, auditing, or some mix of the two. For those who work with taxes, including offering tax advice or other tax work outside of public accounting, the Board requires a minimum 24 hours of CPE time be dedicated to studying taxation. On top of this, you must take three credits in professional standards and responsibilities (PSR) during each licensure period. PSR credit can come from any one of four areas:

  • Ohio accountancy laws and rules
  • Accountancy law and rules of another state
  • Professional ethics for CPAs
  • Ethical philosophy

You will spend a lot of time taking courses that apply to your CPE requirement, so the Board has a tool to help you track it all. You should make a folder for all of your physical certificates and then use the Board's online tool to track your CPEs.

Your CPE experience should be both enlightening and enjoyable, as you are enhancing your professional life. You might even decide to teach a CPE course of your own. Regardless, you achieved a monumental goal – you are a CPA. Congratulations!

Accountant Career Salaries in Ohio by Occupation

Ohio seems to be an outlier in its mean annual wage for accountants and auditors. The Cleveland-Elyria area’s annual mean wage is $75,850, as its employment runs at 730, making an excellent living for this profession. The northeastern area’s mean annual wage is $63,470 and its employment is 1,840. Columbus’s mean annual wage is $74,630. Canton-Massillon’s mean annual wage is $67,700 and the eastern Ohio non-metro mean annual wage is $66,930. In sharp contrast, the Cleveland-Elyria employment numbers are much higher—10,610. To the east, Akron has 2,910 accountants and auditors.

Annual Mean Wage 10th Percentile 25th percentile 50th percentile 75th percentile 90th percentile
$72,350 $41,770 $51,420 $64,520 $84,220 $112,630

A Day in the Life - Preschool Teacher