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Arizona is a welcoming destination for launching an accounting career. The Grand Canyon State hosts multiple Fortune 500 companies and ranks among the fastest-growing U.S. states.
Labor market projections also indicate a bright future for accounting professionals in Arizona. The U.S. Department of Labor projects a 21.6% job growth rate for accountants and auditors in Arizona from 2020-2030.
To become a certified public accountant (CPA) in Arizona, candidates must meet certain standards and pass a challenging exam. Arizona CPA requirements include at least a bachelor's degree from an Arizona accounting school or another accredited institution.
This resource explains key details on CPA licensure. Use this information to plan your educational path and career development as you prepare to become a CPA in Arizona.
Education Requirements for Becoming a CPA in Arizona
Like most U.S. states, Arizona requires each CPA to have at least 150 credits of college coursework and a bachelor's degree. Arizona allows a student to sit for the CPA exam if they have completed their degree and have at least 120 credits. However, an applicant must acquire the remaining 30 credits before becoming eligible to hold a CPA license.
Students can earn these 120 credits in a standard bachelor's degree. Learners who wish to earn more advanced credentials can also consider accelerated bachelor's-to-master's accounting programs.
According to the CPA Journal, exam-takers with master's degrees have higher pass rates on the Uniform CPA Examination. Bachelor's-to-master's programs also offer a built-in pathway to earning the 150 credits required for CPA licensure in Arizona and most other states.
Concentrations, Credits, and Course Acceptance
An aspiring CPA must hold at least 150 credits of college coursework and a bachelor's degree. Arizona CPA exam requirements state that each candidate must have a degree and at least 120 of the required 150 credits to take the examination.
Candidates do not specifically need accounting degrees. However, their education must include at least 24 accounting credits or similar relevant coursework.
Of those 24 credits, at least 12 hours must come from upper-level accounting courses. Each candidate must also complete at least 18 credits of college coursework in related areas.
The Arizona State Board of Accountancy recognizes the following subjects as related areas:
Statistics and algebra or other advanced mathematics
Computer science, data processing, or information systems
Advanced oral or written communications
The state board may also consider or recognize coursework in other related areas. Candidates can only apply to take the CPA exam in Arizona once they meet all educational requirements.
Arizona Experience Requirements
Arizona CPA requirements include 2,000 hours of work experience to qualify for a license. However, the state is very flexible regarding how a candidate can acquire that experience, allowing for any paid or unpaid full-time or part-time employment. Internship and volunteering experience also count.
The experience must include direct work with professional accounting practice. Specifically, their duties must require them to apply detailed knowledge of financial information and accounting principles.
Examples of qualifying tasks include:
Preparing balance sheets, cash flow statements, or income statements
Preparing individual or business tax returns
Oral or written communications involving the analysis of financial information as carried out on behalf of a client, employer, or another third party
Applicants can acquire experience in the United States or internationally. Arizona requires all experience to be verified by supervisors using a Certificate of Experience.
Arizona CPA Exam Requirements
CPA candidates nationwide must take the Uniform CPA Examination. However, eligibility standards and some other details vary among jurisdictions.
The sections below explain eligibility, application, and scheduling practices specific to Arizona.
Eligibility to Take the Exam
In Arizona, candidates can qualify for the CPA exam as soon as they meet all education requirements:
At least 120 college credits, including a bachelor's degree
At least 24 credits of accounting coursework, including 12 upper-level hours
At least 18 credits of coursework in business or other related subjects
The Arizona State Board of Accountancy also considers applicants educated outside the United States. However, these applicants must have their coursework evaluated by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy International Evaluation Services (NIES). NIES is the only agency authorized across the United States to assess foreign educational credentials.
CPA candidates seeking licensure can gain the required 2,000 hours of work experience before or after passing the CPA exam.
The following general requirements also apply:
Candidates must be at least 18 years of age
Applicants must be U.S. citizens
Applicants require a Social Security number (SSN)
Before obtaining initial licensure, aspiring CPAs must also pass the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Professional Ethics Exam. Candidates have two years from the date of their CPA application to pass the AICPA's ethics examination.
Applying for and Scheduling the Exam
Candidates apply for the Uniform CPA Examination through the Arizona State Board of Accountancy. Arranging to sit for the exam involves two distinct steps: application and scheduling.
During the application phase, state officials verify that candidates meet exam requirements. Institutions submit transcripts on each applicant's behalf, and applicants can request transcripts through the Arizona State Board of Accountancy's Transcript Request Form.
After confirming the applicant's eligibility, the candidate will receive a Notice to Schedule. Candidates choose their preferred exam date, time, and location. Early applicants usually have more scheduling flexibility.
As of March 2023, initial applicants in Arizona pay a $100 fee, while re-examination applicants pay $50. Each section of the exam costs $238.15.
Aspiring CPAs can take individual sections of the exam or all four in one sitting. Grades do not expire. However, candidates have only 18 months from the date they passed their first section to pass the remaining parts.
After Passing the Exam
To obtain CPA licensure in Arizona, an applicant must have:
Passing scores on all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination
A passing score on the AICPA's Professional Ethics Exam
At least 150 credits of college coursework
At least 2,000 hours of qualifying professional experience
The educational requirements for obtaining CPA licensure in Arizona differ from the standards for taking the exam. To obtain licensure, the 150 credits of college coursework must include:
At least 36 non-overlapping credits of accounting coursework or the equivalent
At least 30 hours of upper-level accounting coursework
At least 30 hours of coursework in related areas of business, communications, computer science, ethics, and mathematics
Candidates must bridge any gaps between these educational standards and the lower standards needed to sit for the examination before obtaining a license.
As of March 2023, initial licensure applications cost $100. The Arizona State Board of Accountancy notifies applicants about the status of their application within 30 days of receiving it. Applicants who submit incomplete applications have 30 days to correct errors.
CPAs can verify their licensure status to employers and other organizations by submitting an online application through the Arizona State Board of Accountancy.
In Arizona, CPA licenses operate on biennial schedules. Licensees must renew every two years during their birth month. CPAs who fail to renew on time receive an automatic and immediate license suspension. Licenses expire if they are not renewed within three months of suspension.
Continuing professional education (CPE) standards also apply. CPAs must submit documentation indicating their completion of CPE each time they renew their licenses.
Arizona CPAs must complete at least 80 hours of CPE each biennial period, including:
At least 40 hours in accounting, auditing, business law, consulting services, or taxation
At least 16 hours specifically in accounting, auditing, or taxation
At least 16 hours of classroom-based or synchronous online learning
Four hours of ethics training
The ethics requirement must include at least one hour of AICPA code of conduct standards training. Candidates must also cover at least one hour of content covering Arizona State Board of Accountancy administrative rules and professional standards.
Professionals do not necessarily need CPA licensure to open accounting firms in Arizona. However, the firm cannot market itself as a CPA firm unless licensed CPAs from any U.S. jurisdiction own a simple majority of the company.
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Questions About CPAs in Arizona
What is the requirement for CPA in Arizona?
Core Arizona CPA requirements include a bachelor's degree, at least 150 credits of college coursework, and at least 2,000 hours of relevant professional experience. Candidates must also pass an ethics exam to obtain their initial licenses.
Who can take the CPA licensure exam in Arizona?
Arizona CPA exam requirements include a bachelor's degree that covers at least 120 credits. The candidate must also have at least 24 accounting credits, including 12 upper-level credits. They also need a minimum of 18 credits in related subject areas.
When can I take the CPA exam in Arizona?
A person can sit for the CPA exam in Arizona as soon as they meet the education requirements. Arizona also requires CPA candidates to be at least 18 and possess citizenship with a valid SSN.
Can a California CPA practice in Arizona?
Arizona maintains reciprocity standards to recognize CPAs from other jurisdictions. A California CPA can practice in Arizona by obtaining a certificate of reciprocity from the Arizona State Board of Accountancy.
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