California CPA Requirements

A CPA is a certified public accountant who is licensed by a state board of accountancy.

To earn the prestige associated with the CPA license, you are required to demonstrate knowledge and competence by meeting high educational standards, passing the CPA exam and completing a specific amount of general accounting experience.

The two most important aspects of becoming a CPA are passing the Uniform CPA Exam and meeting licensing requirements in the state where you want to practice.

California CPA licensure Requirements – Overview
Educational Hours Required for Licensure150 Semester Hours
Residency RequiredU.S. citizen or legal resident
Degree RequiredBachelor’s or Master’s
Minimum AgeNot required
Application Fee$250.00
Additional RequirementsCalifornia Board of Accountancy Site

Educational Hours Required for licensure

The Certified Public Accountant certification is one of the most prestigious professional certifications available. It indicates that the accountant has satisfied a demanding set of educational, professional, and ethical standards. In addition, candidates must pass the rigorous CPA exam in order to earn the distinction of this credential. Before candidates can sit for the exam, they must satisfy their California CPA requirements and qualifications. Each state has its own set of eligibility requirements for the CPA licensure, which should not be confused with CPA exam requirements. Below we will be discussing the requirements for the state of California.

Education Requirements includes:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • 150 semester units
  • 24 units Accounting Subjects
  • 24 units Business-Related Subjects
  • 20 units Accounting Study
  • 10 units Ethics Study

Pathway 1

  • Good moral character;
  • Successful completion of the Uniform CPA Examination;
  • Active licensure in some state;
  • Four years of experience in public accounting, industry, government or academia verified by an actively licensed CPA within the ten years immediately preceding the application. This experience shall include providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax or consulting skills.

Pathway 2

  • Good moral character;
  • A baccalaureate degree or its equivalent conferred by a college or university acceptable to the Board, with an accounting concentration or equivalent as determined by Board rule to be appropriate.
    • Note: Applicants who passed the CPA Exam and hold a valid license issued by any state prior to January 1, 2012 may be exempt from the education requirement;
  • Successful completion of the CPA Exam;
  • One year of experience in public accounting, industry, government or academia verified by an actively licensed CPA. This experience shall include providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax or consulting skills.

Minimum age required

No minimum age required. Applicant must be a citizen of the United States or legally present in the United States.

Professional Ethics

Candidates who have successfully passed the examination will be required to complete the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant’s continuing professional educational course “Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course On-Demand (For Licensure).”

Fees

$250 for the individual application and $400 for firm annual permit.

Hard copy fingerprint processing fee: $49

Work Experience

The candidate will have 36 months from the time all test sections are passed to obtain a total of 150 semester hours or 225 quarter hours of post secondary education that must include

  • 33 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours in accounting (excluding introductory courses) at the upper division undergraduate and/or graduate level
  • 27 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours in business courses (other than accounting courses) at the undergraduate or graduate level.
  • A reciprocal certificate based on a certificate issued by another state may be issued without examination to an applicant who meets the qualifications.

A firm license process

Each firm and office thereof established or maintained for the practice of public accountancy in this State shall register with the Board within 30 days after it is opened, and annually thereafter, on a form prescribed by the Board.

Each office shall be under the direct supervision of a resident manager who must be registered with this Board and the holder of a valid annual permit.

Firm Registration form

Additional Information

While we do our best to keep all of this information up to date you are welcome to visit and or contact that California Board of Accountancy with any other questions you might have.

California State Board of Public Accountancy
Address: 2450 Venture Oaks Way, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95833

Initial Licensing Unit
2450 Venture Oaks Way, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95833
Phone: (916) 561-1701
Fax: (916) 263-3676
Email: licensinginfo@cba.ca.gov
Web: www.dca.ca.gov
CPA Certification form: California CPA Certification Form
Annual Registration form: California Annual Registration Form

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