Alabama CPA Requirements (Rules on Exam and Licensing)

Alabama cpa requirements

The Alabama CPA requirements are straight forward but specific. For example, Alabama only awards CPA licenses to US citizens and candidates with a legal presence in the United States.

Plus, the Alabama CPA education requirements are also relatively tough. In particular, you need to fulfill 150 education hours for a permit to practice. Furthermore, CPA requirements in Alabama have strict conditions for specific courses in accounting, business, and law.

CPA Requirements for Alabama

The CPA license is granted by the 55 boards of accountancy, one for each state and territory in the United States. Moreover, each jurisdiction has slightly different rules and requirements. So if you’re wondering how to become a CPA in Alabama, this article will go over the CPA application process in Alabama. Before you start on your CPA journey, consider the Alabama ID, residency, age, exam, education, and work requirements.

Alabama CPA Identification Requirements

More and more, state boards are requiring certain types of identification. Specifically, Alabama requires:

  • A Social Security Number. Please note that the Alabama requires a Social Security Number on the form, “Application for the Certified Public Accountant Examination.” Therefore, if you’re an international candidate without a US SSN, this could be an issue for you.

Alabama Residency and Age Requirements

Alabama requires that CPA candidates are US citizens. Or, they can prove via certain federal documents that they are legally present in the United States.

Either way, you’ll have to prove your status. If you’re a citizen of the United States, you can prove your citizenship through one of the following:

  • State-issued driver’s license or another state-issued ID card
  • Birth certificate issued in the United States
  • US passport
  • US naturalization papers
  • Or other documents listed in this link.

Or, if you’re not a US citizen but have legal authorization to live and work here, you can prove your status via one of these documents:

  • I-327 Reentry Permit
  • I-551 Permanent Resident Card
  • A refugee travel document issued by the federal government
  • Machine-readable immigrant visa

However, this is just a short list of documents. Click here to find a complete list from the Alabama State Board of Accountancy.

Residency requirement

Although you must be a US citizen or legal resident, you don’t need to be a resident of the state of Alabama.

Age requirement

Before you can take the CPA Exam in Alabama, you must be at least 19 years of age. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Alabama CPA Exam Requirements

The requirements to sit for the CPA Exam in Alabama are very specific. You must:

  • Be a US citizen or legally present in the US with the appropriate federal documentation.
  • Be at least 19 years old.
  • Be a person of good moral character.

Plus, you must meet one of these education benchmarks. And please note that if you only have a bachelor’s degree, certain classes are required to sit for the CPA Exam in Alabama.

  • Have at least a bachelor’s degree (120 hours) from a regionally accredited college or university with a major in accounting. Or, you could major in an equivalent field as approved by the Alabama State Board of Accountancy. If your school does not have this type of accreditation, the state board will review your program and may or may not accept your education.
    • Of those 120 hours, at least 24 must include upper-level undergraduate or graduate courses in accounting. (Introductory courses do not count toward these 24 hours.)
    • In addition, the Alabama business hours required for the CPA Exam are specific. You need at least 24 hours (not including intro courses) in business such as business law, economics, finance, behaviors of groups and individuals in business, business legal and social environments, marketing, business communication skills, and business ethics.
  • OR have a graduate degree in accounting from a program accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or a comparable organization.

Alabama CPA Exam application package

When you’re ready to take the CPA Exam in Alabama, you’ll start by sending your application package to the state board. You can download the application form here. Please note the following important details:

  • Your application form must be notarized.
  • You must include a recent passport-style 2” x 2” headshot of yourself.
  • You will need a cashier’s check, money order, or personal check for your fees made out to “Alabama State Board of Accountancy.”
  • You should also have your official transcripts sent to the state board. All transcripts must bear the school seal and should be signed by the appropriate school representative.

Alabama CPA education requirements for international candidates

Alabama’s education requirements clearly state that your degree must be from a regionally accredited college or university. In short, accreditation bodies review programs’ curriculum to ensure they meet certain quality standards. For example, they check what is being taught so all students can graduate with confidence knowing they are prepared for their careers.

Therefore, if you graduated from a program accredited by an organization like the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), you’re probably good to go. First, the Alabama state board will review your transcripts. Then, they will check to see if the college you attended is regionally accredited by an approved accrediting body. Otherwise, if you didn’t graduate from a regionally accredited school, the state board can reject your education experience.

This can be an issue for international candidates. Therefore, if you haven’t yet completed your education requirements, I strongly urge you to complete your hours at an accredited school. If needed, you can find additional information about accreditation from This Way to CPA.

A note about international CPA Exam administration

If you’re an international candidate, please note that Alabama does not participate in the international administration of the CPA Exam. That is, if you’re living abroad, you cannot take the exam outside of the US and still apply for a CPA license in Alabama. You can read more on NASBA’s website.

Alabama CPA Education Requirements

Before we go into Alabama’s standards, let me address a point about CPA education requirements in general. In many states, you must first reach one education benchmark to take the CPA Exam. Then, you must meet a slightly higher benchmark to get your CPA license. Alabama is one of those states. So, make sure you carefully read the information below.

Alabama’s education requirements for CPA Exam vs permit to practice

Before you can take the CPA Exam in Alabama, you must meet the education requirements as outlined above. And please note: all education must be completed prior to taking the CPA examination in Alabama.

So therefore, you need 120 hours of higher education to take the CPA Exam in Alabama.

But within 36 months of passing all four sections, the Alabama state board expects you to finish additional hours. After all, you will need a total of 150 hours OR a graduate degree before you can receive a permit to practice as a CPA, even after you pass the exam.

In short, that means you’ll need 120 hours to take the exam but 150 hours to finally apply for your permit to practice.

Specific course requirements

Furthermore, within those 150 hours, you will need:

  • At least 33 hours in accounting classes at the upper-undergraduate or graduate levels. So, intro classes don’t count.
  • At least 27 hours in business classes, not including business accounting courses. You can choose from classes in economics, business law, finance, marketing, legal and social environments in the business world, behaviors of groups and individuals in business, business communication skills, and business ethics.

Alabama CPA License Experience Requirements

Please note that Alabama is one of a handful of remaining “two-tier” states. In these jurisdictions, candidates first receive a “CPA certificate” after passing the CPA Exam and the ethics exam. Then, after meeting the work experience requirements, candidates receive a “CPA license” or “CPA permit to practice.”

Therefore, after you pass the CPA Exam, you can apply for an Alabama CPA certification. However, Alabama requires a specific amount of experience to receive a permit to practice as a CPA. You will need one of the following.

  • One year of full-time experience in a public accounting firm as a staff accountant. Plus, you must be supervised by a practicing CPA holding a valid permit to practice.
  • OR you can substitute at least two years of full-time employment in the accounting field in industry, business, government, or college-level teaching. However, the work must be properly supervised by an active CPA. Additionally, the state board will verify that the work has sufficient quality and depth in accounting practices.
  • OR a combination of the above.

Alabama CPA Ethics Exam Requirement

In addition to passing the CPA Exam, CPA candidates in Alabama must also pass an ethics exam. The Alabama board uses “Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course,” which many other jurisdictions use, too.

Alabama CPA Exam and Licensure Fees

Alabama has fees for your initial CPA Exam application, a fee to have your credits sent to the board, and fees for each section of the exam. Plus, you’ll have to pay an additional fee to re-take the exam if needed, too.

Overall exam fees

  • Initial exam fee: $120.00
  • Exam re-take fee: $75.00
  • Transfer of credits: $120.00

Additional exam fees per section

  • AUD section: $224.99
  • BEC section: $224.99
  • FAR section: $224.99
  • REG section: $224.99

Annual license registration fees

Alabama also requires CPAs to submit an annual registration to report CPE hours (see more info below). The registration form must be accompanied by the following annual fees:

  • Active status CPA license: $100.00
  • Inactive status CPA license: $50.00
  • Retired CPA: $0.00

Reciprocity Rules in Alabama

Most jurisdictions have reciprocity rules that allow CPA-holders from one state to temporarily practice in another state, as long as the CPA requirements are similar. CPA reciprocity in Alabama follows this practice, too.

Specifically, Alabama will issue reciprocal certificates to CPA holders from another state who:

  • Are US citizens or are legally present in the US with the appropriate federal documentation.
  • Are at least 19 years of age.
  • Are of good moral character.
  • Have passed the CPA Exam.
  • Have a valid and unrevoked license to practice public accounting in their state.
  • And after passing the CPA Exam, worked as a CPA for at least 4 of the last 10 years.

Canadian reciprocity

Alabama also offers reciprocity with holders of the Canadian Chartered Professional Accountant credential. However, they must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a US citizen or are legally authorized to work in the United States.
  • Be at least 19 years old.
  • Have good moral character.
  • Pass the IQEX, or the International Uniform Certified Public Accountant Qualification Examination. You can learn more about the IQEX in this article.

Alabama CPA CPE Requirements and Courses

Many states require CPAs to complete CPE, or continuing professional education, to maintain an active CPA license. The purpose of CPE is to keep CPAs up-to-date about important changes to regulations and standard practices. Plus, it keeps your skills sharp.

To maintain an active status license, all CPA holders in Alabama have to fulfill the CPA CPE requirement on an annual basis.

Here is a summary for your reference.

Alabama CPA CPE Requirements

CPE credits must be accumulated by the 30th of September each year.

CPAs registered in Alabama should fulfill at least 40 hours of accounting continuing education each year. However, these 40 hours need to include the following subjects:

  • At least 8 hours in accounting and auditing CPE
  • 2 or more hours in a qualified ethics CPE course
  • A maximum of 12 hours in “behavioral” CPE, which could include courses in time management, leadership, team building, goal setting, and other workplace soft skills
  • In addition, no more than 10 CPE hours can be gained via a Nano Learning delivery method that delivers content in segments of 10 minutes or less.

Possibility of CPE waivers

The board may grant CPE waivers for:

  • Health reasons, as documented by a doctor, that prevent a CPA from completing CPE hours.
  • Retired CPAs over the age of 55 who no longer practice public accountancy.
  • CPA-holders who contact the Board in writing and verify that they prefer an inactive status.

CPE to change Alabama CPA license to active

Alabama has both active and inactive CPA licenses. If you don’t keep up on your CPE hours, your license will become inactive. So, if want to upgrade an inactive license to an active one, you’ll need some extra CPE hours. Specifically, you must complete the following:

  • 40 hours of CPE for every year that your CPA license was inactive. However, you cannot have more than 120 CPE hours.
  • Plus, at least 25% of your make-up CPE hours should be in accounting and auditing.
  • At least 5% of your CPE hours should be from an ethics course.
  • However, CPE credits from a behavioral CPE course should account for no more than 30% of your CPE hours.
  • And lastly, no more than 10% of your total make-up CPE hours should come from Nano Learning.

Additionally, please keep in mind that you must complete these make-up CPE hours in the 3 years prior to changing your CPA license to “active.”

Where can I take these accounting CPE courses?

NASBA maintains the National Registry of CPE Sponsors, which you can access here. For instance, the list includes CPE providers who meet NASBA’s quality standards. Therefore, the registry is a good place to start to find providers.

Or, you can check out the Alabama Society of CPAs. They also provide CPE classes for both members and non-members. In addition, the Alabama CPA society has links to CPE courses from other providers like Surgent.

Plus, you can always contact the Alabama state board for assistance.

Alabama Board of Accountancy Contact Info

Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy
PO Box 300375
Montgomery, AL 36130-0375

  • Phone: (800) 435-9743
  • Fax: (334) 242-5700

Email: teresa.taylor@asbpa.alabama.gov or anna.baker@asbpa.alabama.gov

Address for overnight mail, UPS, or FedEx deliveries

Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy
770 Washington Ave., RSA Plaza Suite 226
Montgomery, AL 36104-3807

FAQs about CPA Alabama Requirements

When can I take the CPA Exam in Alabama?

In the past, the Alabama CPA Exam dates fell within certain weeks each fiscal quarter referred to as “testing windows.” However, the CPA Exam now follows a model of continuous testing windows. So, candidates no longer have to wait for certain windows to take the exam. They do, however, have to schedule and pass their exams within the valid dates on their NTS, or Notice to Schedule a CPA Exam in Alabama.

How much does each CPA Exam test cost in Alabama?

The Alabama state board charges a fee of $224.99 per exam section. In addition, the board has a $120 initial exam fee, a $120 credit transfer fee, and a $75 exam re-take fee.

Can you practice as a CPA in Florida when you got certified in Alabama?

If you have an active CPA permit to practice in Alabama, then under Florida’s regulations, you can practice in Florida without notification or fee. However, if you only have an Alabama CPA certificate—that is, you have not met the work experience requirement—you cannot practice in Florida.

Help Earning the CPA License in Alabama

If you’re considering taking the CPA Exam, I strongly suggest mapping out your journey before you begin. To get started on the right foot, study for the CPA Exam with a review course that meets your learning style. I’ve reviewed several of the top review providers in this article. For example, if you’re looking Alabama CPA courses for auditing, the article will help you find some.

Additionally, I have a free CPA mini-course for my readers. In this course, you’ll receive free CPA Exam information, tips, and study advice. Just click here to learn more and sign up.

Other useful information

What if these CPA requirements don’t work for me?

You may want to check out these pages to learn more about the CPA educational and experience requirements.

If you have questions, feel free to drop a note in the comment section. Or, visit my Facebook page.

About the Author Stephanie Ng

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley), and I also passed all 4 sections of the CPA Exam on my first try. Additionally, I have led webinars, such as for the Institute of Management Accountants, authored featured articles on websites like Going Concern and AccountingWeb, and I'm also the CFO for the charity New Sight. Finally, I have created other accounting certification websites to help mentor non-CPA candidates. I have already mentored thousands of CPA, CMA, CIA, EA, and CFA candidates, and I can help you too!

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