Earning your certified public accountant licensure is the same in Tennessee as in many other states. A combination of education, examination and keeping up with your license is all you need to start in this career.

CPA Education Requirements in Tennessee


Check college or university accreditation

First, you will need to confirm that the institute you’re attending, or plan to attend, is properly accredited. The Tennessee State Board of Accountancy only recognizes degrees from junior colleges, colleges, and universities that are accredited programs by the following organizations:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges

If your educational institute is not accredited by one of the above organizations, you may still qualify for a CPA license in Tennessee if:

Enroll in a graduate program at an accredited institution.

Complete 15 semester hours of graduate classes (must include nine hours of graduate-level accounting courses, three hours of graduate-level tax courses, and not duplicate any previously courses taken).

Have undergraduate (foreign) transcripts evaluated by a Board-approved service such as Foreign Academic Credential Evaluators, Inc. or Global Services Associates, Inc.

Submit the completed evaluation of foreign transcripts to the Florida Board of Accountancy.


Take the right courses

CPA applicants in Tennessee must earn a baccalaureate or higher degree and complete a total of 150 semester hours of accounting and business courses. Your program must include:

At least 30 semester hours of accounting courses

A maximum of six semester hours can be from internships

At least 24 semester hours of general business courses in one or more of these categories:

  • Algebra, Calculus, Statistics, Probability
  • Business Communication
  • Business Law
  • Economics
  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • Management
  • Technology / Information Systems
  • Marketing

Accounting hours, excluding elementary courses, above the minimum can be substituted for the general business requirements. Additionally, at least 24 semester hours of junior, senior, or graduate level accounting courses are required.

CPA Uniform Examination Requirements


Complete the education requirements


You can apply to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination prior to completing the education requirements as long as you:

  • Have a baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited educational institute
  • Complete a minimum of 18 semester hours or 27 quarter hours of junior, senior, or graduate level accounting courses. Hours attained from internships do not satisfy this requirement.

You can submit your application to sit for the examination prior to completing your degree, assuming you provide material proof that your program will be finished by the time you actually sit for the first examination. A Certificate of Enrollment and a certified transcript from your college or university will satisfy this requirement.


Apply to take the Uniform CPA Examination

You can apply to take the Uniform CPA Examination online. You’ll need to create a user account to proceed. Application materials include:

  • Application fee of $170.
  • Examination fees of $208.40 for each section of the exam you intend to take: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).
  • Official transcript(s) sent directly from your college or university to CPA Examination Services (CPAES).
  • Notarization Form, submitted by you to CPAES.
  • Photograph Form, including a 2x2 image of your head and shoulders only taken within the last three months, submitted by you to CPAES.
  • International Evaluation, sent directly from the evaluation service if you received your education outside of the United States.
  • Testing Accommodation Request form, if applicable, submitted by you to CPAES.

All supporting documentation should be submitted with your application or sent to the following address:

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

After your materials have been received, expect it to take two to four weeks for your application to be processed.


Schedule your Uniform CPA Examination date

Once your Uniform CPA Examination application has been processed, you will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS). Your NTS will indicate which sections of the examination you’re approved to take and will instruct you to schedule your exam date(s) via Prometric. Be advised that Prometric does charge exam service fees.


Take the Uniform CPA Examination in Tennessee

Now it’s time to take your Uniform CPA Examination. To be considered for CPA licensure in Tennessee, you must receive a score of 75% or higher on all four exam sections within an 18-month rolling period. You’ll be notified via email once your scores are available to view online.

Work Experience Requirements in Tennessee


Complete experience requirements


To qualify for a CPA license in Tennessee, you’re required to work professionally in an industry, government, academia, or public practice for at least a year (a minimum of 2000 hours). During this time, you must provide services or advice using accounting, attest, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills. Your work experience must be verified by a licensed CPA.

License Application Process


Verify you’ve met the requirements


In order to apply for a CPA license in Tennessee, you must meet the following requirements:

Earn a baccalaureate degree or higher from an accredited educational institute and complete a minimum of 150 semester hours to include:

  • 30 semester hours in accounting – 24 must be either junior, senior, or graduate level courses
  • 24 semester hours in business

Pass the Uniform CPA Examination

Pass the AICPA ethics exam with a score of 90% or higher

One year of professional work experience


Apply for your CPA license

Once you’ve passed the Uniform CPA Examination and the AICPA ethics exam, the Tennessee State Board of Accountancy will be notified. At that time, they will send CPA license instructions to you. This will include a verification form for your licensed CPA employer. Additionally, you’ll need to pay an initial CPA license application fee of $100.

Continuing Education (CPE) Requirements


Complete education requirements


In order to maintain your CPA license in Tennessee, you must meet the state’s CPE requirements. Within each two-year period, you must complete the following:

80 CPE credits

  • A minimum of 20 hours per year is required
  • At least 40 hours must be in technical subjects
  • At least 20 hours must be in Accounting and Auditing if performing attest services
  • At least 20 hours must be in the area the court deems you an expert
  • A maximum of 20% of hours may be obtained through a magazine reading program
  • At least two hours of Board approved state specific ethics courses

CPE technical fields of study include:

  • Accounting
  • Accounting (Government)
  • Auditing
  • Auditing (Government)
  • Business Law
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Information Technology
  • Management Services
  • Regulatory Ethics
  • Specialized Knowledge
  • Statistics
  • Taxes

CPE Non-Technical Fields of Study include

  • Behavioral Ethics
  • Business Management and Organization
  • Communications and Marketing
  • Computer Software and Applications
  • Personal Development
  • Personnel / Human Resources
  • Production

The Tennessee State Board of Accountancy randomly selects 10% of renewing CPA licenses each year for a CPE audit. If you are chosen, you must submit documentation proving CPE completion.

Accountant Career Salaries in Tennessee by Occupation

Tennessee is a southern state that's consistently listed as one of the fastest growing in the nation. A quick look at how well its accountants are doing is an indication of great things. The state estimates that it will add 1,130 new accounting jobs between 2012 and 2022. Accountants are needed in highly regulated areas such as Memphis' shipping sector, and the booming entertainment industry in Nashville always needs accountants. Controllers in small Memphis firms earn around $100,700 and the average earnings in Nashville are $68,760. C-level accountants in Memphis work hard to attain their CPA credentials and position, and they take home $359,575. If you are looking for a great state in which to launch an accounting career, Tennessee is it.

City Annual Median Wage
Chattanooga $61,980
Knoxville $62,860
Johnson City $62,880
Memphis $62,640
Nashville $68,760
Annual Mean Wage 10th Percentile 25th percentile 50th percentile 75th percentile 90th percentile
$67,360 $39,410 $48,330 $60,440 $77,620 $100,270

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