CPA 1 Year Experience Requirement [States Revealed]

CPA Certification: States that Require 1 Year of Experience

A lot of readers contact me with questions about the CPA 1 year experience requirement to become a CPA. You probably already know that the requirements include education, passing the CPA Exam, and 1 year of experience (or more) working in the accounting field. However, these CPA certification requirements can be a little confusing because they vary depending on where you apply for your license.

I hope this breakdown helps you decide which of the 55 CPA jurisdictions is right for you.

What Are the Requirements to Become a CPA?

To become a licensed CPA, you must first meet certain education and experience requirements. Although the specific details vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction for CPA certification, you generally need the meet the requirements of the 3 Es.

In addition, many states require a 4th E—“Ethics”—and require CPA candidates to also pass a CPA ethics exam.

What Are the Experience Requirements to Become a CPA?

Before you apply for your CPA license, you’ll need to gain a certain amount of experience. Jurisdictions measure this experience in hours, months, or years. However, the details of that experience really depend on your state or territory. For example, you can meet the CPA 1 year requirement in some states through full-time or part-time work. However, others require continuous full-time work under a CPA for 1 year.

Plus, in some states, a licensed CPA must directly supervise you on a daily basis. In other states, though, a licensed CPA only needs to “verify” your work. So, the person who verifies your work doesn’t necessarily have to be your boss. Take New York, for example. The CPA 1 year experience requirement in New York must be verified by a licensed CPA. Rhode Island, in comparison, requires that you are supervised by a CPA for 1 year.

So if your jurisdiction requires experience verification instead of supervision, then read the section about NASBA’s Verification Service at the end of this article.

How Many Years of Experience to Be a CPA?

To make it even more confusing, some states have really specific experience requirements. In most jurisdictions, you must have at least 1-2 years of public accounting experience to apply for your CPA license. For example, CPAs in Florida need at least 1 year of work experience. Some states, though, require up to 4 years of work.

Additionally, many jurisdictions also count non-public accounting experiences. For example, they consider experience gained in the government sector or in non-public accounting taxation. Some jurisdictions even accept experience in academia. But in those instances, you might have to have a higher number of years of experience.

Public vs Non-Public Experience

In some jurisdictions, the 1 year under CPA requirements can be fulfilled in multiple sectors. For example, you could work in a public or private setting, education, industry, government, or tax consulting. However, some states want your experience to fall into certain categories. In Alabama, for instance, you’ll need one year of public accounting to apply for your CPA license. If your experience is in non-public accounting, you’ll have to work for 2 years. However, the CPA 1 year experience requirement in California could be completed in the public, private, government, or private industry sector.

Do I Have to Work in the US for CPA Certification?

To meet the experience requirements for the CPA license, your work doesn’t necessarily have to be in the US. The most important consideration is that you have a “verifier” who is an actively licensed CPA. You can fulfill your experience requirement anywhere in the world as long as your verifier has an active CPA license. But remember to double-check. After all, it’s not uncommon for US CPAs living abroad to let their licenses expire. Be sure that your verifier is eligible to supervise your work.

When Does Your “Experience” Start?

I’m going to offer you a very important piece of advice. Please double and triple check when your jurisdiction considers your experience to start. In some states and territories, you can count the accounting experiences that you had before you took the CPA Exam. In other places, though, you can’t start counting your experience hours until after you’ve taken the exam.

States that Require 1 Year of Experience for CPA

The following list includes the jurisdictions that only require 1 year work experience for CPA licensure. But, I still encourage you to check with your board of accountancy to verify their requirements. NASBA maintains contact information for each board on this website.

In the list, you’ll notice that some jurisdictions require 2,000 hours of experience. In theory, if you work 40 hours a week for 50 weeks in a year, you can just squeeze those hours into one year.

Here’s the breakdown of jurisdictions with CPA requirements of 1 year experience.

Alabama

In Alabama, you’ll need one year of full-time work in public accounting that is supervised by a licensed CPA. Or, you can have two years in non-public accounting in industry, business, or government. If you want, you can even meet the requirement by teaching at the college level.

Alaska

Alaska requires at least 2,000 hours in government, industry, academia, or public practice. Plus, a licensed CPA must supervise you.

Arizona

The Arizona board expects at least 2,000 hours of paid or unpaid work in the accounting field. A supervisor must verify your work. Plus, you can count work that you completed before or after passing the CPA Exam.

Arkansas

Arkansas wants CPA candidates to have one year of experience in accounting, attest, financial advising, management advising, or tax consulting.

California

The California board expects one year in accounting in the public, private, government, or private industry sector. In addition, your experience must include accounting, attest, compilation, management and financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills.

Colorado

Colorado requires one year (or 1,800 hours) in public accounting, industry, government, or academia. Plus, you must work under the supervision of a licensed CPA. However, you can count work that you completed up to 5 years before your CPA application.

Delaware

Delaware wants one year of employment or at least 2,000 hours of work. However, you can work in the public or non-public sector. But, a licensed US CPA must directly supervise your work. You can even count experience that you gained up to 10 years before your CPA license application.

District of Columbia

In the District of Columbia, you’ll need at least 2,000 hours that are completed in no less than 1 year and no more than 3 years. Furthermore, that experience must be verified by a licensed CPA. Plus, that experience can be in government, industry, academia, or public practice.

Florida

The Florida CPA 1 year experience requirement must be fulfilled under the supervision of an actively licensed CPA or an approved charted accountant. (See this full-length article for more information.) Your experience can be in public or non-public accounting. In fact, it can even be volunteer work as long as it is verified by a CPA.

Georgia

Georgia expects one year of experience in a public or non-public setting with at least 2,000 hours worked. In addition, you must be supervised by a licensed CPA. (I have more information about Georgia’s requirements if you need it.)

Hawaii

Hawaii requires at least 1,500 hours in auditing in the public sector while working full-time. Or, at least two years as an accountant in the education, government, public, or private sectors. There’s a catch, though. Those hours must be billable. So, non-paid hours don’t count towards the experience requirement.

Idaho

Idaho wants CPA candidates to have at least 2,000 hours of work experience. However, you can gain those hours by working either full-time or part-time for 1 to 3 years. Plus, your experience must be verified by a CPA. But, you don’t necessarily have to work for your verifier.

Illinois

The Illinois board of accountancy requires your work experience to be in government, industry, academia, or public practice. However, that experience must be completed AFTER you pass the CPA Exam. Plus, your experience must be completed under a licensed CPA.

Iowa

Iowa expects at least 2,000 hours in public or non-public accounting. If you teach accounting at the college level, you can count up to 24 hours toward that requirement. In addition, you must gain the 2,000 hours within 3 years.

Kansas

Kansas requires one year of work experience involving the use of attest or non-attest skills. Plus, you can work in government, industry, academia, or public practice. However, your experience must be verified by an active, licensed CPA.

Kentucky

Kentucky wants at least 2,000 hours of work experience in an accounting or auditing position. However, you can work in a public setting or in industry or government. Your work must be verified by a licensed CPA. But, that CPA doesn’t necessarily have to be your supervisor or even work in your place of employment. Plus, the work must be completed in no less than 12 months.

Louisiana

You’ll need at least 2,000 hours of work experience under a CPA to apply for a license in Louisiana. Plus, you have up to 4 years to complete the hours on a full-time or part-time basis.

Maryland

Maryland expects at least 2,000 hours of work experience that must be verified and “endorsed” by a CPA. In addition, your work experience must be completed within the 3 years immediately preceding your application.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts requires at least one year of experience working in the public sector. However, if you work in the private sector, you’ll need 3 years of experience. All work must be supervised by a licensed CPA. (If you’re applying for a license in Massachusetts, I suggest reading my article. It cover the requirements of a “non-reporting license” versus a “reporting license.”)

Michigan

Michigan wants CPA candidates to have at least 2,000 hours of experience in the public or private sector. Plus, a licensed CPA needs to verify your experience.

Minnesota

Like many other jurisdictions, Minnesota CPA candidates need one year of experience. However, the CPA who verifies your experience must be licensed in Minnesota.

Mississippi

Mississippi expects one year of experience under the direct supervision of a licensed CPA. Additionally, you must complete your experience within 3 years of passing the CPA Exam.

Missouri

Missouri requires at least 2,000 hours of experience in public or non-public accounting. Furthermore, you must fulfill your experience in 1-3 years.

Montana

Montana wants at least 2,000 hours of experience that is completed within the 3 years immediately preceding your application for your CPA license. Your experience can be in public accounting or industry, government, or academia and must be “attested” by a licensed US CPA. Plus, the board of accountancy may accept military experience after evaluation.

New Hampshire

If you have a master’s degree in business administration, accounting, finance, or taxation, then you only need 2,000 hours of experience. Additionally, you must complete all experience under the direct supervision of a licensed CPA. Plus, you must complete your experience within the 6 years immediately preceding your CPA license application.

New Jersey

The state of New Jersey requires one year of public accounting experience with at least 1,750 hours under the direct supervision of a licensed CPA.

The State of New Mexico

In New Mexico, the board of accountancy wants at least one year of experience that is verified by a licensed CPA. In addition, your experience must include accounting, attest, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, and consulting skills.

New York

New York expects one year of experience under a licensed CPA who both supervises and verifies your work. Your experience must include accounting, attest, compilation, management and financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills. (If you might apply for your CPA license in New York, I have more information in this full-length article.)

North Carolina

To become a CPA in North Carolina, you’ll need one year of experience in public accounting under the direct supervision of a licensed CPA. If you want, you can substitute teaching accounting at a college or university for 4 years. Or, you can work in any other aspect of accounting (outside of public accounting) for 4 years.

North Dakota

The North Dakota board requires one year of experience. Plus, you must be able to prove your experience, and a licensed CPA must verify your work.

Ohio

Ohio expects one year of experience in public or non-public accounting that is verified by a supervisor. If your supervisor is not a licensed CPA, you will need to have a second verifier who knows you, knows your work, and is a licensed CPA. (Additionally, I have more information about Ohio’s requirements here.)

Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, you must prove that you have at least 1,800 hours of accounting experience. You can build up all of those hours in one year if you want. However, you can take up to 4 years to work the required number of hours. Furthermore, your experience should be in accounting, attestation, or taxation.

Oregon

In Oregon, you’ll need one year of experience working as an accountant at least part-time. So, you’ll have to work at least 20 hours per week. Plus, you must have your experience verified by a CPA who has been licensed for at least 5 years.

Pennsylvania

If you have at least 150 credit hours from college, then you’ll need one year (or 1,600 hours) of work experience in public practice or industry, government, or academic. Plus, your work needs to have completed within 5 years of applying for your CPA license.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island requires at least 1,820 hours of experience working under the direct supervision of a licensed CPA. In addition, you can complete your work in public practice or government, industry, or academia.

South Carolina

The South Carolina board of accountancy expects at least one year of experience in public accounting. You can gain those hours working part-time if you like, but you’ll need at least 2,000 hours.

Tennessee

Tennessee wants CPA candidates to have at least 2,000 hours of experience. But, you have to complete it in no less than 1 year and no more than 3 years. Plus, you can work in the education, industry, government, or public sectors.

Texas

Texas requires one year of full-time experience in “non-routine” accounting like attest services (audits, compilations, reviews, etc.). Or, you can gain this experience in professional accounting services. These services could include issuing financial statements, providing consulting services, tax preparation, and other services. (I’ve outlined these services in this longer article). If you work part-time, you’ll need at least 2,000 hours that you must accumulate in less than 3 years.

Utah

To become a CPA in Utah, you’ll need at least 2,000 hours in public or private accounting that a licensed CPA supervises. (I cover Utah’s education and exam requirements in this article).

Vermont

Vermont is another state that requires at least one year of experience for your CPA license. Plus, you must complete that experience under the direct supervision of a licensed CPA. In addition, you can gain this experience up to 4 years before or 4 years after you pass your CPA Exam. Your experience can be in public or non-public accounting. But, it must include at least 500 hours of attest functions. Of those 500 hours, at least 200 must include audit functions. (You can find an updated article about Vermont’s CPA requirements here.)

Virginia

Virginia requires at least 2,080 hours of experience. If you budget your time, you could meet that goal within a year. Your supervisor must verify your hours. However, you don’t necessarily need a supervisor who is a licensed CPA. Plus, your work can be in public or non-public accounting or academia.

Washington

The Washington board wants CPA candidates to have at least 2,000 hours of accounting experience that a licensed CPA verifies. Plus, you have the freedom to work in industry, government, or the public sector.

West Virginia

West Virginia expects at least one year of experience that a licensed CPA verifies. Plus, you can count hours you worked up to 4 years before you apply for your CPA license.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin requires at least 2,000 hours of experience in the public sector (or an equivalent setting) under the supervision of a licensed CPA.

Wyoming

In Wyoming, you’ll need at least 2,000 hours of experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. Plus, you need to complete that experience within the 5 before applying for your license. You can work part-time if you want. However, your experience must include auditing, financial accounting, management accounting, and taxation.

Important Considerations

After reading this list, you’ve probably noticed that jurisdictions have vastly different CPA requirements. And this list doesn’t even include the states that require more than 1 year to get your CPA license! Some states require 2-4 years of work. So as you can see, each jurisdiction’s requirements are important factors to consider.

NASBA Verification Service

NASBA understands that both domestic and international licensure candidates may have trouble with their experience verification. After all, some candidates might start working for small companies that don’t have a licensed CPA on staff. Or, international candidates might not have regular access to CPAs, depending on the country where they live and work.

Therefore, NASBA offers an experience verification service to meet this need when licensed CPAs are not available. Basically, NASBA will complete a thorough examination of your work, including an interview with a licensed CPA. If the interviewer and NASBA feel that your experience meets the requirements of your board of accountancy, they will verify your experience.

The NASBA Verification Process

The process to have your experience verified by NASBA is fairly straightforward:

  • Submit an application online
  • Pay your fees ($500 for a domestic experience verification, $700 for an international verification)
  • Have an interview with a NASBA representative
  • Wait for your final report, which will also be sent to your board of accountancy

However, you must:

  • Have already passed all four parts of the CPA Exam
  • Meet the educational requirements for licensure, as required by your board of accountancy
  • Already have 1-2 years of appropriate experience under your belt

What States Accept the NABSA Verification Service?

You should be aware that many jurisdictions do not accept this service from NASBA. However, if you sat for the CPA Exam in a jurisdiction that does not take the NASBA service, and you really need to have your experience verified, you might be able to transfer your exam scores to one of the following boards. And then, you can apply for your CPA license from one of these jurisdictions.

Currently, the boards of accountancy that accept the NASA Verification Service include:

  • Arkansas
  • Guam
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Oklahoma
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.

Need Additional Information about CPA Certification?

If you still have questions about the CPA 1 year experience requirement in many states, or if you need advice about your journey to become a CPA, please contact me.

Also, please check out my free e-course on how to pass your CPA Exam on the first time and earn your license. I have two versions: one for U.S. candidates and one for international candidates.

Further Reading

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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