How Long After Passing CPA Exam (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3 Years

CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is the exam developed and conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Across this world, this exam is known as the highest standard of competence in accountancy. The purpose of this exam is to assess the knowledge and skills of its students which are required for practicing public accountancy. If you have a U.S. bachelor’s degree with some accounting course credits, then you can apply for this exam. But you also need the eligibility approval of one of the 55 state boards of accountancy in the United States, only then can you give this exam.



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How Long After Passing CPA

How Long After Passing CPA Exam?

150 credit hours (if remaining)Within 3 years
Ethics ExamWithin 2 years
Work Experience1 or 2 years

After you have successfully passed the CPA exam, there are few steps that you need to take before starting your actual work. Now is the time when you will have to complete the requirements which are needed to obtain a CPA license for that particular state where you wish to practice. But the requirements needed for the license differ from state to state. And you might have to wait for a long time till the AICPA sends you the approval for the license. To fulfill all the remaining requirements which are needed for the license, you’ll take almost 3 years.

In these three years, the requirements which you need to fulfill are education, an ethics exam, and one or two years of experience (depends on the state). You are supposed to acquire 150 credit hours of education to get the license. For these 150 credits, you’ll have to complete 30 semester hours in subjects related to accountancy and 24 semester hours in subjects related to business administration. You’ll also need to finish 15 semester hours or more in accountancy at the graduate level, i.e., one year of a Master’s degree. And finally, you’re expected to have work experience of at least one year or more, and this work experience is verified by a licensed CPA. But the requirement for work experience depends on the state where you wish to work.

The license for CPA expires after every two years. Thus, for the license renewal process, you are expected to complete 80 to 120 hours of CPE after every two years. And you are supposed to attach the documents proving your CPE completion on the license renewal application.

Why does it Take That Long After Passing CPA Exam?

As mentioned before, CPA applicants need to fulfill few requirements after they pass their CPA Exam. These requirements include education, ethics exam, and work experience. The license requires 150 credit hours. The applicants can pass the CPA exam with only 120 credits, but they must complete the remaining credits within 3 years after the CPA exam, to get the license.

To get a CPA license, the applicants must fulfill 3 E’s, i.e., education, exam, and experience. But some of the states also include a 4th E, which is the Ethics exam. The purpose of this exam is to help the applicants get a clear understanding of the ethical codes and challenging ethical problems they might face. Although this test is not required by all the states, some states have made this test a mandatory requirement to get the license. But the applicants are given some time to take the test. They can apply for this exam within two years after the CPA exam.

The last requirement is to get some work experience. Most states require the applicants to get one or two years of work experience, and this experience is supervised by a CPA license holder. You can either acquire this work experience before giving the exam or after the exam, it depends on the particular state requirements.

If you are unable to fulfill all the requirements with a period of three years, then you are needed to complete 120 hours of CPE. After completing those hours, you are expected to submit the report of the same.


Thus, you are given 3 years after passing the CPA exam to get the license. So, once you have completed all the 4 E’s, i.e., the requirements for getting the CPA license, you can submit the CPA license application form. If you are a foreign applicant, then you have a time restraint of obtaining the license within 3 years after the CPA exam. If you fail to obtain your license then you will have to give the exam once again. The applicants should always keep in mind that this license expires after every two years. Hence to keep the license active you must continue the professional education, i.e., completing 80 to 120 hours of CPE every two years.


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