After CPA Exam… I Passed! What’s Next?

Silly laugh after CPA examDone! But then after CPA Exam, what’s next?

Well, first of all, congratulations! You have completed the most difficult part of the CPA qualification journey: The Uniform CPA Exam.

Depending on which state you apply for the license, you’ll have to fulfill most if not all the following to become a truly minted CPA.

1. After CPA Exam, You Need to Wait… and Wait.

Yes, there is a long wait (up to a few months!) of receiving the actual congratulatory letter from your State Board. Don’t freak out if you haven’t got it after a week.

Before you get the official congratulatory letter, do something value-add, such as:

  • Spend some good, overdue quality time with your loved ones (spouse, children, colleagues, friends, pets…). They miss you. Also, in one way or the other, they have made sacrifices to support you during these difficult months. It’s time for you to thank them back.
  • Pamper yourself! Get a nice gift and decompress.
  • Print out the CPA licensing application form, and start thinking the right person to verify your experience (see point 4 below), and how to ask for the favor. The process can be more time-consuming than expected.
  • If you plan to change or upgrade your career, you can also spend some time drafting your resume and job research.

2. Possibly Take the CPA Ethics Exam

The congratulatory letter may indicate taking the CPA Ethics Exam  as the next step. Don’t worry if it is not mentioned in the letter, as a number of states don’t have this requirement, or they run their own (e.g. California). A few states may ask candidates to complete a test relevant to the state, e.g. the state law test in Utah.

3. Fulfill the Working Experience

Most states requires CPA candidates to accumulate 1 to 2 years of accounting experience. A handful of states recognize only experience in public accounting, but many states are ok with either public or non-public accounting.

Most state boards require your experience to be supervised, and verified by an active CPA licensee as part of the license requirement. For details, check the CPA Exam Requirements by State and click on the corresponding link of your state.

4. Fill in the Form and Pay

When you have everything fulfilled, simply download the license application form from the State Board, together with the initial license fee. Done!

In order to keep your license active, you are required (in most states) to fulfill the CPA CPE requirements (continuing professional education), typically 80-120 hours every 2-3 years.

6. Apply for AICPA Membership

Once you are done with your state CPA licensing, you may choose to apply for the AICPA — the largest professional accounting body in the world. You will also need to fulfill the CPE requirements but in most cases it would be the same as the ones required by your state.

For Your Further Reading

Last But Not Least… Have You Announced The Good News Yet?

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* Photograph courtesy of jaxxon


  1. Jawwad says

    Hi Stephanie,
    I am surprised to see the support you are offering to attempting and completed CPAs. Please accept my warmest regards to do such a noble deed.
    I request your advice as I am really feeling helpless to get my certificate as CPA, details are as follows.
    I have completed my CPA (all 4 sections) in January 2009 from California board (CBA) but unfortunately did not attempt the Ethics exam yet, just recently when I had attempted to get the certificate from California board and requested ethics exam details, CBA informed me that they need SSN as mandatory requirement, which I do not have being an International student.
    After wards I have checked with North Dakota state board to transfer my credit from CBA, based on my credentials evaluation from WES (world educational services) NDA informed me that I have 140 semester hours and NDA require 150 although I have sufficient other business and upper level accounting hours.
    I feel really helpless as I do need to register and obtain a certificate, I am currently working in United Arab Emirates and my visa (Visit) for United states has expired.
    Stephanie, I request your help to find which state to transfer my credit from CBA and register myself as CPA.
    I really appreciate your help
    Many thanks and best regards

  2. Nada Ayoob says

    Hi Stephanie,
    I am delighted to go through your website and see your dedication towards spreading advice related to the CPA examination process.
    I in need of your advice as I am really feeling helpless to get my certificate as CPA.
    I have completed my CPA August 2010 from California Board of Accountancy (CBA). I was not aware that CBA needs SSN as mandatory requirement, which I do not have being an international student. I have the congratulatory letter from the board but I am clueless what to do next in order to get my certificate/license.
    I have 123 semester credits based on my credentials evaluation from WES (world educational services). Also, I have over 2 years of experience in public accounting from Ernst & Young, Bahrain.
    At the moment, I do not know what I’m supposed to do in order to receive a certificate.
    I request your help to find which state to transfer my credit from CBA and register myself as CPA.
    Would greatly appreciate your help!
    Kindest Regards,
    Kingdom of Bahrain

  3. Alok says

    Hi Stephanie

    I am a Indian CA. I have learnt that dubai is opened as exam centre from mid 2011. Can u please clarify whether that exam centre is open only to dubai citizens or even I can appear there since I am from India.


  4. pim says

    I recently passed all 4 parts of the CPA exam under California.I worked and live in Texas now and wish to transfer my credit.
    I had my degree and licensed as CPA in my home country (Philippines).I know i can apply for license in California but i would like to see if i can apply in Texas instead.Texas required a separate credential evaluation before i can transfer credit.I have 157 sem hours under CA ,have 39 accounting units and 24 units bussiness course.My worries are,if i apply for transfer of credit to Texas and later find out i didnt meet the educational requirement under TX , Can i turn back to CA and go ahead and apply for license there?Will i lose any of my exam credits ?Please help.
    Thank you


  5. Stephanie says

    Dear all,
    Many thanks for taking the time to leave your comments here and I should have had answered the above questions in other pages.

    In order to streamline and improve the response time, I would like to redirect your questions to these pages:

    1. For state specific questions (including licensing):
    Please go to CPA exam requirements by state, click on the state you are interested in, and add a comment there.

    2. For general questions from international candidates:
    Please check out this page written for you first, and click away / leave comments from there!

    3. For credential evaluation questions:
    Please go to this foreign credential evaluation page for details and for asking your questions.

    Finally, if you have a questions specifically on what to do after passing the CPA exam, then please scroll back up and find the heading “Your comments are most welcome” and drop a note for me there. Thanks!