Certified public accountant CPAs are integral to the success of any Virginia business. They manage the tax filings, oversee budgets, conduct audits, and create financial projections, among other tasks. Given their vital role in business and commerce for Virginia, there's no wonder that the license receives so much oversight. It's also very difficult to achieve the credential. In fact, each state has its own Board and attendant rules governing how to achieve full licensure. This page is all about how to become a CPA in Virginia. Becoming a CPA in Virginia doesn't have to be stressful. Just follow this guide and you can pass the CPA exam.
Academic Requirements for Virginia CPAs
Academic scholarship is the backbone of the certified public accountant CPA credential. While you will learn much while on the job, your college or university experience requirements will set the tone for your later career. There, you'll learn all of the fundamentals you need to become a certified public accountant. In Virginia, you need a total of 150 semester hours, including a bachelor's degree, to sit for the CPA.
Included in your 150 credit hours, CPA candidates must take a minimum of 24 credit hours in upper-level accounting and 24 credit hours in business-related coursework. Keep in mind that courses such as principles of accounting or introduction to accounting will not count towards the 48 hours you need to complete to become a certified public accountant and start the process of becoming a CPA. Also, if you take a lot of accounting courses, you can use 6 hours to count towards the business requirement.
You must include the following in your accounting coursework:
- Financial accounting
- Management accounting
Your business coursework can include courses including, but not limited to:
- Business law
- Business ethics
- Commercial law
- Financial planning
- Computer science
- Information technology
- Organizational psychology
- Human resources
- Actuarial sciences
- Written and oral communication
- Technical writing
The Virginia Board has made an official recommendation that all licensure candidates have some graduate studies included on their transcripts. The heightened rigor and specific focus of graduate-level courses will better prepare you for your career. Further, these days a graduate degree is more and more common, so if you start working towards that early, your career will likely benefit later on.
Not only does the association of state boards of accountancy need to see a set quantity of courses, but they need an assurance that your education attained a certain level of quality, as well. To satisfy the Board's requirements, make sure your school is fully accredited by a recognized agency. You can have taken some or all of your coursework online or in a brick-and-mortar institution, but your school must accredited by a regional agency such as:
- Association of Advanced Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Colleges and Schools
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
If your education was achieved abroad, or otherwise not accredited by one of the above agencies, all is not lost. Have your credits evaluated by the NASBA or one of the seven other education evaluation firms listed on the Board's website (CPA Exam > Education evaluation firms). Keep in mind that it is common to lose credits when transferring in this way. However, the deficit is unlikely to be too great and soon you'll be able to sit for your CPA exam. Here is a brief list of approved evaluating agencies:
- Josef Silny & Associates, Inc.
- Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc.
- International Consultants of Delaware, Inc.
- World Education Services
- Foreign Academic Credentials Service, Inc.
- International Education Research Foundation, Inc.
- NASBA International Evaluation Services
- Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc.
Featured Online Programs
Campus and Online Degree Options in Virginia
CPA candidates could work for smaller employers outside of major cities in Virginia with an associate degree in accounting. These programs typically take two years as full-time students. It’s also possible to move up to slightly higher positions with only an associate degree, but you aren’t likely to reach a supervisory position without more education. Learn More
Most accounting positions in Virginia will require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting. The majority of enterprise employers, startups, and government agencies prefer a bachelor’s degree for even support positions. This degree could also earn you access to higher level positions once you have some experience requirements under your belt. Learn More
A master’s degree is necessary for teaching accounting at community colleges and many private high schools. Accounting master’s degrees can also be used to meet the minimum requirements for certified public accountant CPA certification and licensure. Learn More
Doctorate or PhD
For any individual who wishes to pursue accounting research careers or to become a professor in accounting, a doctorate or PhD will be necessary. This degree is another way to boost annual salaries and expertise. Learn More
Online Degree Programs
Today, online accounting degrees are becoming essential to the flexible needs in our daily lives. Online accounting degrees in Virginia are primarily available at four-year colleges and universities and nearly every degree level has some available online programs or courses. Learn More
Examination Requirements for the Virginia Board
Every certified public accountant CPA must take and pass all four parts of the Uniform CPA Exam as provided by the AICPA. As part of your preparation, the state board recommends that CPA candidates download and review "The Candidate Bulletin: Roadmap to CPA Success," which you can find via the AICPA website.
It is very difficult to pass the CPA exam, so please study hard and consider forming a study group with other aspiring CPAs. To qualify to schedule a test time CPA candidates must have graduated with a bachelor's degree and have 120 credit hours under their belt. Your transcript should also include 24 credit hours of accounting coursework and 24 credit hours of business-related credit. Note that you cannot count introductory or principles coursework in that accounting.
To help CPA candidates determine whether they have the credits required to take the CPA exam, the state board has included a self-evaluation worksheet on its website. They also have a comprehensive Education Handbook to help you plan and assess your education. You can also download this from the state board website. The handbook includes the worksheet.
Once you are prepared to take the CPA exam, you can send your application to the state board. Your application packet should include all of your official academic transcripts, a copy of your drivers license, all applicable fees, and documentation requesting any accommodations you need for a disability. Mail your packet to:
Virginia Board of Accountancy
9960 Mayland Drive
Henrico, VA 23233
It will take the state board up to three weeks to process your transcripts.
When the Board approves your application, they will notify NASBA. Then, NASBA will send you a Notification to Schedule. You can contact the most convenient Prometric location. They will help you schedule a day and time to take the first part of the ccertified public accountant CPA exam. You may take the four parts in any order you find most advantageous. You can find Prometric testing centers in the following Virginia towns:
- Glen Allen
- Newport News
The examination's four parts are:
- 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
Prior to full licensure, CPA candidates must put knowledge to the test by working in academia, industry, government, the non-profit sector, or a public accounting firm. You must work under a licensed certified public accountant CPA and be prepared to provide a full accounting of your time. The national association of state boards requires that you work for at least 2,080 hours, roughly the equivalent of one year of full-time employment. During your pre-licensure period, you should exercise relevant accounting skills that can include, but are not limited to:
- Tax services
- Management advisory
- Financial planning
When you start your work experience requirements, you should download and print a copy of the association of state boards Experience Verification Form. On the form, you can select up to four utilized skills. Once you and your supervisor have signed and dated your respective pages, you will mail or fax the form to:
Virginia Board of Accountancy
9960 Mayland Drive
Henrico, VA 23233
Fax: 804) 527-4409
To attain a certified public accountant CPA license in Virginia, CPA candidates must satisfy the education requirements, pass all four parts of the CPA exam, attain the necessary accounting experience requirements, and pass the AICPA's ethics exam.
CPA candidates education must be accredited by a regional accreditation board recognized by the Board and must include 150 credit hours. Your education should include a minimum of 24 credit hours studying accounting, and 24 more studying business-related subjects. The association of state boards does not include intro-level courses in this accounting. Along the way, at around 120 credit hours, you should graduate with a major concentration in accounting. The state board advises that you go on to take graduate-level courses to complete the remaining 30 credit hours.
After 120 credit hours, CPA candidates can apply for becoming a CPA. You will provide the state Board with your official, sealed transcripts and all applicable fees. You will soon receive a Notification to Schedule that you can use at a local Prometric location. You can schedule as many tests as you like, but you must pass all four sections of the CPA exam within 18 months.
The Board needs to see that you can apply your academic knowledge to real-world clients and employers. Thus, they require one year of supervised accounting experience requirements. Your supervisor should be a licensed certified public accountant CPA and you need to work in academia, industry, public accountancy, a non-profit, or government. To fulfill the requirement, you must account for 2,080 hours that are signed for on the Board's Experience Verification Form.
Finally, you need to take the AICPA's Ethics Course, and pass the exam. You can purchase the course through their website and take it online, if you choose. The exam is open-book and covers the professional ethics expected a person that wants to become a CPA.
Continuing Professional Education Requirements
For every three years of licensure, Virginia requires that its CPAs complete 120 credit hours of CPE credit, or 40 credit hours per year. Those hours should include two hours per year in a Virginia-specific ethics course. This is separate from the ethics course you take for initial licensure. The Virginia Society of CPAs is the only provider of the ethics exam and the Board allows you until January 31 to fulfill the ethics requirement for the previous year.
To fulfill the CPE requirement, you can:
- Attend seminars
- Take for-credit coursework from a college or university
- Complete a nano-learning course
- Complete self-study courses
- Conduct a presentation or lecture
- Write a book or article
- Attain new credentials/certifications/licensures
Once you have your certified public accountant CPA license, give yourself a clap on the back. This is a huge achievement. Going forward, you should consider joining the AICPA and/or the Virginia Society of CPAs. These professional organizations will help you network with your colleagues and even find CPE opportunities. They will be a large part of your professional life, and they even offer leadership positions. Your stellar career will attain new heights through your professional associations.
Accountant Career Concentrations & Salaries in Virginia
Forensic accounting specializations are becoming increasingly in-demand throughout the country. These accounting professionals often work for law enforcement as well as government agencies. Some forensic accountants may also become expert witnesses and speak about what they learned in their investigation on the stand. Few degrees are dedicated to forensic accounting at this time; however, it is possible to choose it as a concentration or specialization. Learn More
Individuals who select environmental accounting as a profession will dedicate much of their time to establishing the environmental cost of doing business or the costs of various activities at a societal level. Environmental accountants work with decision-makers in businesses and organizations to remove or minimize environmental downsides and costs for each project. Specific licenses are available in this specialization, including clean technology and pollution. Learn More
Cost accounting focuses on the costs related to a product or service. These costs can occur at any number of sources including the supply chain, product procurement, marketing, customer acquisition, and more. As part of cost accounting, it will be necessary to prepare budgets, analyze profits, generate monthly reports, etc. Learn More
A hospital accountant specializes on the hundreds and thousands of hospital financial transactions each day, month and year. This individual will have to report findings to executives and prepare budgets. Tracking and filing financial statements will be another critical role for a hospital accountant.
Virginia's beautiful coastline is matched only by its mountain region. Accountants will love its 15 percent growth rate that will put 1,921 new accounting jobs in the economy between 2012 and 2022. These new accountants will earn 8 percent more than the national median salary. The annual mean earnings for a Virginia accountant are $84,740 and the very top earners earn $129,450 before accounting for bonuses and benefits. Those specializing in NGOs and Governmental accounting will find a home in the DC region of the state, while there will be plenty of opportunities in the shipping sector, as well as tech, and finance. Virginia is a state for accountants to love!
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Virginia Accounting Frequently Asked Questions
Which are the types of accounting employers in Virginia?
In Virginia, accountants have employment options in a variety of fields and industries. It’s possible to work for a Big Four or national CPA firms, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and Kearney & Company. Some people might prefer to work for school districts or at headquarter locations for various corporations.
What is the Virginia mid-career accountancy earning average?
The average salary for an accounting manager in Alexandria, Virginia is around $73,300, according to Payscale.com. A mid-career accounting salary will vary greatly based on experience requirements, education, employer, and location. CPAs typically make more than general accountants, and those with advanced degrees and certifications can also expect to earn more money.
Is certification or licensure required in Virginia to become an accountant?
In Virginia, standard accounting positions will require a bachelor’s degree. However, if one wishes to become a CPA, they must complete at least 150 hours of education and become licensed by the Virginia Board of Accountancy.
Which colleges or universities in Virginia offer online accounting degrees?
Virginia colleges and universities with online accounting degrees are growing each year. Some of the top accounting programs in the state offer accounting degrees online, such as Old Dominion University and the University of Virginia. Some schools offer full degrees and others offer CPA certificate programs.