Becoming a CPA in Rhode Island is similar to entering the profession in many other states. Rhode Island differs from many states in that license renewal and continuing education reporting requirements are done every three years.
To become a CPA in Rhode Island, you must have a bachelor’s degree and at least 150 semester hours of college credit. Your degree must come from a college or university with an accounting program accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Secretary of Education. At the undergraduate level, you must earn a minimum of 24 semester hours in accounting and 24 semester hours in business classes. The course requirements include:
- Six semester hours in fundamental accounting
- Six semester hours in intermediate financial accounting and reporting
- Three semester hours in advanced financial accounting and reporting
- Three semester hours in auditing
- Three semester hours in tax accounting
- Three semester hours in business law
- Three semester hours in economics
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How to Sit for the CPA Exam in Rhode Island
Once you have received a bachelor’s degree and finished at least 120 semester hours of the 150 semester hours required, you may sit for the Uniform CPA Examination. Register online with CPA Examination Services (CPAES). Send documentation and fees to CPAES at:
CPA Examination Services, Rhode Island Coordinator
P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN
The Uniform CPA Examination consists of four sections: Auditing and Attestation, Regulation, Financial Accounting and Reporting and Business Environment and Concepts. You have four hours to complete each section of the exam, for a total of 16 hours. While you can take each section of the exam on a different date, you must complete the entire exam within 18 months of completing the initial section. You must pass each section with a score of at least 75.
To take the CPA exam in Rhode Island, you must hold state residency or have a place of business or steady employment in the state.
You will receive your Notification to Schedule (NTS) from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) by either email, fax or regular mail, depending on your selection in your application.
Testing centers for the Uniform CPA Examination in Rhode Island are in Warwick and Cumberland. Prometric handles exam scheduling for Rhode Island, so schedule your exam via their website. Arrive at the testing site at least half an hour before the test is scheduled to start. You will receive your exam scores in the mail.
Prior to receiving your CPA license, you must complete the professional accounting experience component. This paid accounting work experience consists of at least 1,820 hours of work over the course of a year and the supervision and verification of a licensed CPA. Eligible experience includes working in private industry, public practice, education or government. The competencies you must prove vary according to the field in which you work. Here are the current requirements:
- Instructor at an accredited university or college
- Teaching only upper level courses
- Using independent judgment and thought on non-routing accounting matters.
- Government – Federal, state or local
- Auditor or accounting job on the state level
- Auditor or accounting job at GS-7 level or above on the federal level
- FBI – special agent accountant
- Military – auditor or accountant
- Auditor or accountant for other governmental agencies.
- Using independent thought and judgment on various accounting matters
- Applying the proper technical and behavioral standards to the work.
- Tax return preparation
- Tax return research
- Using accounting principles
- Cost accounting
- Preparation and analysis of financial statements
- Understanding the employer’s transaction streams and information systems
- Understanding the employer’s industry and competition
- Appraising the employer’s internal controls competency.
Besides these job-specific requirements, all CPAs must demonstrate certain core competencies. These include:
- Documentation and work papers preparation
- Preparation and analysis of financial statements
- Understanding transaction systems and information systems
- Understanding how economic and regulatory trends affect business
- Development and analysis of critical success factors and performance measures
- Knowledge and understanding of the goals and objectives of different business entities
- Understanding the Rhode Island Board of Accountancy’s Code of Professional Conduct.
Professional ethics course
Before you can begin your practical work experience, you must pass the home study “Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course.” You must receive a score of at least 90 percent on this ethics test to start your professional experience. When you apply for your license, you must attach a copy of the completion certificate to the application.
How to Get Your License in Rhode Island
Once your educational requirements, passing of the Uniform CPA Examination and professional experience are complete, you may apply for licensing in Rhode Island. CPA licensing in this state is also known as permitting. You must send official copies of your college transcripts and other supporting documentation, proof of passing the ethics test, and verification from your supervisory CPA of your work experience, along with a 2” x 2” photo of yourself and applicable fees to the Rhode Island Board of Accountancy online. If you must mail this information, this could delay your licensure for two to three months. If you decide to go the mail route, send the package to:
Rhode Island Board of Accountancy
1511 Pontiac Avenue #68-1
Cranston, RI 02920.
Out-of-state CPA licenses
If you are already licensed as a CPA in another state, you may be able to practice in Rhode Island as long as your license comes from a “substantially equivalent” state, which currently includes all U.S. states and territories with the exception of the U.S. Virgin Islands. If you are a solo practitioner, you must receive a Rhode Island license. However, if your work for a practice organized as a business entity, only one member of the practice requires individual Rhode Island licensure if the other members all hold substantially equivalent licenses from other states. Keep in mind that Rhode Island firms may require state licensing by their employees.
You can apply for a reciprocal CPA certificate, which includes providing many of the requirements for standard Rhode Island licensing along with having the State Board in the state in which you are licensed send verification to the Rhode Island Board of Accountancy.
Continuing Professional Education Requirements
Rhode Island CPAs must complete 120 semester hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) every three years. That is the equivalent of 15 days of formal instruction over the time period, or five days annually.
The following subjects are approved by the Rhode Island Board of Accountancy for CPE credits:
- Auditing and accounting
- Consulting services
- Specialized knowledge and applications
- Regulatory ethics
- Behavioral ethics
Personal development and marketing courses may make up only 24 out of the total 120 semester hours during this three-year period. Self-study courses may not make up more than 80 out of the 120 CPE semester hours, while book or article publishing cannot exceed 60 out of the 120 CPE semester hours. Moderating or lecturing counts toward CPE credit, but not for more than 60 out of the 120 CPE hours. Such lecturing or moderating grants you two CPE hours per each hour of instruction.
You should keep records of your CPE for at least four years. You must renew your CPA license every three years, and you report your CPE hours at that time. Make sure the following information is available:
- Attendance dates
- Course location
- CPE hours claimed
- Sponsoring courses and the organization