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Accountants in Alabama can pursue job opportunities and advanced roles, especially in metropolitan areas. For example, the Big Four accounting firms — Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG — each have locations in Birmingham. In addition, the city features multiple smaller accounting, auditing, and tax firms.
Alabama also hosts various fast-growing industries that hire accountants, like logistics and agricultural production. State incentives like business tax credits and workforce development services help to pull more businesses into Alabama that need accounting professionals.
By earning certified public accountant (CPA) credentials, Alabama accountants can qualify for advanced positions as financial advisors or chief financial officers. The Yellowhammer State requires specific education hours and job experience for accountants working toward CPA licensure. After becoming licensed CPAs, these professionals must also meet continuing education requirements to maintain licensure.
Discover Alabama's CPA requirements, including information on exams, licensure, and renewal, to prepare for this accounting credential.
Education Requirements for Becoming a CPA in Alabama
The first step toward becoming an Alabama CPA is meeting the state's education requirements.
Prospective CPAs must complete an undergraduate degree from an accredited school to sit for the exam. The program must include at least 120 credit hours, which most bachelor's degrees typically feature.
CPA certification in Alabama requires an additional 30 credits. Therefore, many prospective CPAs also pursue master's degrees in accounting. An accelerated bachelor's-to-master's program allows students to pursue both degrees and the required credits in a shorter-than-average timeframe.
Learners can save about one year of coursework and reduce their tuition costs with an accelerated program.
Concentrations, Credits, and Course Acceptance
Prospective CPAs do not need to complete a specific undergraduate degree to sit for the exam. However, many choose accounting-related programs, as Alabama requires each candidate to have completed at least 24 business-related credits and 24 advanced accounting credits.
An accounting, business administration, or finance degree typically meets this requirement. Additionally, future Alabama CPAs need a total of 150 credits for certification. Learners must obtain these additional 30 credits within 36 months of passing the CPA exam.
For the 150 credit requirement, each candidate needs at least 33 credits in upper-division accounting and 27 in business. Graduate students often major in accounting or business administration with concentrations in financial management, forensic accounting, or taxation to earn these credits.
Alabama also allows transfer credits from accredited schools that meet the Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy's (ASBPA) educational standards.
The following list includes several examples of courses that meet Alabama CPA test requirements and certification standards:
Cost analysis planning and control
Introduction to taxation
Introduction to corporate governance
Intermediate financial management
Alabama Experience Requirements
CPA licensure in Alabama also requires professional experience. Alabama is a two-tier state, allowing aspiring CPAs to become certified before earning licensure. Certification occurs after passing the CPA exam. Then, candidates gain work experience to obtain licensure.
Alabama's CPA candidates to have work experience after completing their 150 credit hours and passing the exam. Candidates must have 1-2 years of relevant work experience for ASBPA licensure approval. This designation permits CPAs to practice as licensed CPAs in Alabama.
The ASBPA offers three options for CPA candidates to gain work experience. First, they can work as full-time staff accountants in public firms for one year. A practicing CPA or permitted public accountant must supervise the candidate during this time.
Secondly, a prospective CPA may work in an accounting-related position within an organization for at least two years. The company must be in the business, industry, government, or college teaching sectors. ASBPA also allows combinations of these types of work experiences.
The ASBPA requires employer documentation to verify experience. Employers can submit the verification form online or by mail.
Alabama CPA Test Requirements
CPA candidates in Alabama take the Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). This exam is the official examination for the CPA credential. It ensures that each candidate thoroughly understands key accounting and auditing principles.
Along with passing the CPA exam, the state has specific requirements for testing eligibility and scheduling, as outlined in the following sections.
Eligibility to Take the Exam
CPA candidates must meet Alabama's education requirements before sitting for the exam. These requirements include completing a bachelor's degree from an accredited school with at least 120 credit hours, including a minimum of 24 credits in upper-level accounting courses and 24 credits in business courses.
To qualify for the CPA exam in Alabama, a candidate must be at least 19 years old and a United States citizen or qualifying resident with a valid Social Security number. However, Alabama does not require candidates to maintain state residency to sit for the CPA exam.
Alabama CPA test-takers do not need to take the AICPA ethics exam in addition to the CPA exam, but they must display good moral character as evaluated by ASBPA.
Applying for and Scheduling the Exam
CPA candidates can apply for the exam on the ASBPA website. The candidate should request their official transcripts from their college or university at the time of their application. The school can send transcripts by mail or electronically to the ASBPA. Students must wait until graduation to request their transcripts and apply for the CPA exam.
After verifying the student's eligibility and coursework, the ASBPA approves the application. The candidate can then choose the sections they want to take and pay their associated fees of $238.15 each. Test-takers can complete the four sections in any order, separately or in a single sitting.
After paying the test fees, each candidate receives a Notice to Schedule (NTS). While ASBPA approval authorizes a candidate to sit for the exam, the NTS is necessary to schedule the CPA exam at an authorized Prometric testing center.
CPA candidates must schedule and take the exam within six months before the NTS expires. After this time, candidates must reapply with ASBPA. Therefore, a test-taker should only schedule and pay for the sections they know they want to complete within that period.
Alabama allows 18 months to pass all four sections of the CPA exam. After this period, the candidate loses credit for any passed sections and must retake them.
After Passing the Exam
After passing all four CPA exam sections within the 18-month timeframe, candidates can continue working toward their 150-credit education requirement. This step is necessary before the ASBPA certifies a candidate for licensure. After passing their final section, a candidate has up to 36 months to complete all 150 education credits.
Certified candidates can receive their Alabama CPA licenses after accruing 1-2 years of work experience. The fee for an initial license application is $100. Prospective employers can verify an applicant's CPA license by conducting a licensee check on the ASBPA website.
A CPA license is necessary to practice professionally in Alabama. Additionally, the state requires its accounting firms to be at least 51% owned by a licensed CPA in any state.
CPA licenses in Alabama expire after one year. ASBPA requires licensed CPAs to submit their renewal application and $100 fee by Dec. 1 of the same year they file. For example, CPAs should submit their 2023-2024 renewals by Dec. 1, 2023.
Submission extensions are available without penalty through Dec. 31. However, applicants filing after this date may incur a penalty fee of up to $500 or receive disciplinary action.
Alabama CPAs must pursue 40 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) annually to maintain their licensure. At least two CPE hours must include ethics coursework, and up to 10 hours can cover behavioral studies. CPAs can submit CPE credit requests through the ASBPA website.
Alabama's CPA requirements for licensure align with most states regarding education and work experience. Therefore, many CPAs relocating to Alabama from other states can apply for Alabama licensure without meeting additional requirements. However, Alabama is one of few states requiring United States citizenship, which could be a roadblock for some.
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Questions About Alabama CPA Requirements
How do I become a CPA in Alabama?
Prospective CPAs must pass all four exam sections to qualify for licensure. They also need at least 150 credit hours and one year of accounting-related work experience.
Who can take the CPA licensure exam in Alabama?
United States citizens who are at least 19 years old can apply for the CPA exam in Alabama after completing 120 credits of undergraduate coursework.
How much is the CPA exam in Alabama?
The CPA exam in Alabama includes four sections, each costing $238.15. However, applicants do not pay a fee to apply for the initial exam. Also, they can pay for and take as many sections as they would like at once.
Does Alabama require the ethics exam for CPA?
Alabama does not require CPA candidates to take the ethics exam to earn licensure. However, each candidate needs at least two CPE hours of ethics coursework each year to maintain their CPA license.
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