I Passed! Now What’s the Next Step after CPA Exam?

After CPA exam

You are done!  But what’s next after the CPA Exam?

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 of receiving the actual congratulatory letter from your State Board. It could be a few days, or weeks, or even months in a few cases. 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 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 on job research.

2. Take the CPA Ethics Exam (may or may not apply)

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. A few states, such as California, run their own exam. Other 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 require CPA candidates to accumulate 1 to 2 years of relevant accounting experience. A handful of states recognize only experience in public accounting, but most states nowadays are fine with general accounting and taxation work.

The majority of 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 are ready, download the license application form from the state board. Send it in together with the initial license fee. Turnaround time is usually fast for most states.

5. 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 board.

6. Explore CPE Providers

In order to keep your license active, you are required to take continuing professional education on a regular basis, typically 80-120 hours every 2-3 years. Here are the requirements for your state board and for AICPA.

For Your Further Reading

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

Share your own success story here. Be the inspiration of all my readers!

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About the Author Stephanie Ng

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites

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  • 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
    Jawwad
    UAE

  • 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,
    Nada
    Kingdom of Bahrain

  • 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.

    Regards,

  • pim says:

    Hi!
    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

    Regards

  • 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!

    Stephanie

  • Ahmed says:

    I passed CPA exam on 2014, and not eligible for experience requirements til now.
    My question is after How many years after passing CPA exam I can still have the opportunity to apply for New Hampshire CPA license(3yrs,4yrs,5yrs, or what).

    Thanks for your help

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Ahmed, that’s great!
      Most states don’t have a deadline but I vaguely remember that New Hampshire might be an exception. It’s best to check with NH state board as soon as you can. Regards, Stephanie

  • Demi says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    In order to fulfill practical experience requirement for CPA, I am wondering that what kind of of jobs or generally what level of positions in accounting field can be verified?

    Thanks

    Demi

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Demi, it is best if the work is accounting related and involves some sort of analysis e.g. beyond journal entry upload. Clerical and pure administrative work won’t be counted. And in most states, this experience needs to be verified by an active US CPA. It also depends on your state board. I understand from a few readers that book keeping is fine in at least some states. Regards, Stephanie

  • Apoorva says:

    Hi,

    I have passed the CPA exam(all 4 sections) recently.However, I do not wish to acquire license as I do not wish to practice but am looking for employment. Could someone please guide me as to what steps do I need to follow next? Do i need to take up the ethics exam even if I do not want licensure?

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Apoorva, nowadays, almost all states have axed the “CPA certificate”. Unless you get the license, passing the exam doesn’t mean much. It’s like you pass the university exam but do not graduate. Can’t really call yourself anything.

      So try your best to obtain the license. It’s usually only 1 year of relevant experience.

  • Apoorva says:

    Hi Stephanie, thanks for your assistance. I would also like to know as to how do I find CPA firms in USA where I can acquire the experience before applying for license. I currently stay in India and am likely to visit USA in June fro a month. Is there any agency/organisation that pools the information regarding these firms?

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Apoorva, I am afraid things are more complicated than that. I am not a visa expert, but in order to work in the US, you need to get a H1B visa, which is often under-supplied and also takes the hiring company quite a bit of legal cost to get you one. Unless you are able to convince to a company that you are worth all the legal fees and efforts, they would pick someone in US instead. You may want to explore the H1B visa further to understand the situation. Regards, Stephanie

  • Annie says:

    Hello, do they count the time you do accounting before passing the exam as work experience to get the license? or it has to be after passing the exam? Thank you.

  • Christina says:

    Dear Stephanie,

    I passed! It took me a year of studying, after your helpful overview and guidelines in your book. Thank you for providing the information of WHAT to study and HOW to take the test that was invaluable in my experience with the testing. Thank you!

  • Christina says:

    (gah I sound like a shill, but seriously, just checked my scores this morning and the fourth & last section: PASSED!)

  • Nikitha Jacob says:

    Dear Stephanie,
    I am an international student registered under the Colorado state. I have passed the 4 sections of the exam last June. I have passed the AICPA ethics course as well. I am planning to pursue my masters in order to satisfy the 150 credit rule. Moreover, I have not yet earned the the complete work experience yet.

    My doubt is regarding when do I apply for licensure. Is it possible for me to start applying for licensure considering I have completed 2/4 requirements? In that case, how do I apply for inactive licensee and is there any fee that I would have to pay besides the licensure fee?

    Would really appreciate it, if you could help me out.

  • Nikki says:

    Dear Stephanie,
    I am an international student registered under the Colorado state. I have passed the 4 sections of the exam last June. I have passed the AICPA ethics course as well. I am planning to pursue my masters in order to satisfy the 150 credit rule. Moreover, I have not yet earned the the complete work experience yet.

    My doubt is regarding when do I apply for licensure. Is it possible for me to start applying for licensure considering I have completed 2/4 requirements? In that case, how do I apply for inactive licensee and is there any fee that I would have to pay besides the licensure fee?

    Would really appreciate it, if you could help me out.

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