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Accountants play an important role in helping individuals and businesses track and manage their financial activities, accounts, and budgets. Certified public accountants (CPAs) stand out in this valuable profession. Their specialized training and accomplishments can lead to state licensure and industry recognition.
Requirements vary by state, but all CPAs must meet certain education, experience, and examination standards. Accounting firms and clients seek these accountants for their high level of professional expertise. According to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), CPAs make 10-15% more than unlicensed accountants.
Explore Florida's CPA requirements in this guide. We also provide helpful resources, such as highlighting accounting degrees in Florida and outlining a step-by-step guide for candidates to follow.
Education for Meeting Florida CPA Requirements
Every state maintains specific educational requirements for licensure. According to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), Florida's CPA requirements include 150 semester hours or credits from a board-approved accredited institution. A significant portion of these credits should have an accounting or business focus.
Though a bachelor's degree is not required to sit for the exam, each prospective test-taker must possess 120 relevant credits, making a bachelor's program a common choice. After earning bachelor's degrees, candidates may then pursue master's degrees or postgraduate certificates for the additional credits.
Some schools also feature bachelor's-to-master's accounting degrees, which include 150 credits or more to satisfy the CPA requirements in an accelerated fashion.
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Concentrations, Credits, and Course Acceptance
To satisfy the CPA requirements in Florida, each candidate needs to first complete 120 semester credits and take the CPA examination. Of these credits, 24 must come from upper-division courses in auditing and cost accounting, including at least three credits each in taxation and financial accounting using U.S. standards.
A prospective CPA also needs to complete 24 credits in general business courses with at least 21 upper-division credits and three credits in U.S. business law. Students who complete additional accounting courses may apply credits to the general business requirement.
However, they cannot use introductory accounting courses for the accounting or general business requirements, such as classes focusing on accounting principles or fundamentals.
While college-level examination program courses cannot contribute to the initial accounting or general business requirements, they can count toward the 30 excess credits. Credits for duplicate or review courses do not satisfy Florida's CPA requirements.
After completing the CPA exam, a candidate must complete an additional 30 credits. At least six credits need to come from upper-division auditing or cost accounting courses, with at least 12 credits in general business.
Courses that satisfy CPA requirements in Florida include:
Florida CPA Experience Requirements
Florida's CPA requirements also include professional accounting experience, which can begin after passing the CPA examination. Each candidate needs to complete at least 2,000 work hours in 1-2 years, averaging at least 20 hours per week. They can then submit a completed verification of work experience form signed by a licensed CPA.
Often used interchangeably in Florida, the terms certificate and certification refer to the CPA credential, while licensure applies to the state-specific process for professional recognition. Professional experience satisfies the licensure and CPA requirements in Florida. In two-tier states, however, candidates may need to complete additional experience requirements for state licensure.
Candidates with at least five years of professional experience outside of Florida may apply for licensure by endorsement. In general, the state accepts the following types of work experience:
Accounting and tax services
Consulting and management and financial advisory
CPA Exam Requirements in Florida
The Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) tests candidates on their accounting knowledge and professional readiness. Every state requires licensed CPAs to pass this examination before certification and licensure. While the exam contains the same material for all candidates regardless of location, eligibility requirements can differ by state.
Eligibility to Take the Exam
To qualify for the CPA exam in Florida, each candidate needs to submit transcripts demonstrating completion of at least 120 credits. These credits must feature 24 credits in auditing and cost accounting, including three credits in financial accounting and three credits in taxation. A prospective CPA also needs 24 credits in general business, including three credits in U.S. business law.
Eligible undergraduate credits must come from an accredited institution and do not expire. Florida does not require AICPA's professional ethics exam like other states.
Applying to Take the Exam
First-time applicants pay a $50 application fee to the Florida board for their initial application. Once approved, they pay a separate $170 testing application to the CPA Examination Services, along with a $238.15 fee for each section of the CPA examination, per NASBA.
Applicants must demonstrate good moral character, and the board may reject an application if they find evidence contrary to this. Out-of-state applicants may apply through typical means, while individuals who completed parts of the exam outside of Florida need to submit an interstate exchange authorization form.
Florida has no residency or citizenship requirements to sit for the CPA exam, though the state does require a Social Security number from test-takers. Applicants also need to be at least 18 years old.
Submitting Transcripts for the Exam
CPA candidates submit their exam application fee and documentation to the Florida DBPR in Tallahassee, Florida. The documentation includes official transcripts, so applicants must have their credits complete. Incomplete applications will be rejected.
An approved applicant receives a jurisdiction ID and a notice to schedule (NTS) the examination. The NTS expires within six months, so candidates should only schedule tests they can attend. Florida considers all candidates who previously received an NTS as re-examination applicants and not first-time applicants, requiring them to pay an additional registration fee when rebooking an exam.
After Taking the Exam
To pass the CPA exam, candidates must earn a minimum of 75% on each of the four parts within 18 months. While it may be advisable to space out the test parts, candidates can book them at once and complete sections in groups. Florida test-takers can find score release dates from AICPA and their scores on NASBA's candidate portal.
After passing the final part of the exam, prospective CPAs have three years to apply for state licensure, or the test results expire. Candidates with expired CPA requirements in Florida may apply for licensure by endorsement. Prospective CPAs and employers can find licensure statuses on CPAverify.
Florida CPAs can renew their licenses every two years by completing 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) every 18 months. The state requires eight hours in accounting and auditing, four hours in ethics, and 20 hours maximum in behavior subjects. Florida provides two automatic three-month extensions for CPEs, but each extension comes with an additional eight CPE hours.
While licensed CPAs do not need to submit proof of CPEs, they must maintain documentation in case of an audit. If licenses become inactive or delinquent, they require reactivation, which includes a $250 fee, a $25 delinquency fee, and the $105 license renewal fee.
The CPE reactivation requirements feature 120 CPE hours, including 30 hours in accounting and auditing, eight hours in board-approved ethics, and 30 hours maximum in behavioral subjects.
Among other sites, Florida CPAs can access board-approved CPEs via the Florida Institute of CPAs, along with custom training and professional development opportunities. Florida allows certified and licensed out-of-state CPAs to practice in the state or pursue licensure by endorsement. The state requires accountants with majority ownership of a firm to hold CPA licensure.
Questions About CPAs in Florida
What are the requirements to become a CPA in Florida?
Florida's CPA requirements include 150 credits of accounting-related studies, passing the complete CPA examination, and at least one year of accounting work experience.
Do you need a master's to be a CPA in Florida?
No. The CPA requirements in Florida do not include a master's degree or even a bachelor's degree. However, candidates may pursue master's degrees to satisfy the 150-credit requirement.
Who can take the CPA licensure exam in Florida?
In Florida, eligible CPA examination candidates must be 18 years old with a minimum of 120 credits from an accredited institution. Eligible candidates need to complete the appropriate number, type, and level of accounting courses to qualify.
How do you apply for a CPA license in Florida?
Candidates who meet the CPA requirements in Florida and have passed the examination may submit their documentation to the DBPR. The application includes a $50 fee.
How long does it take in Florida to become a CPA?
The length of time it takes to become a CPA in Florida varies. CPAs typically take about five years for the education requirements, one year for the work experience, and a maximum of 18 months for the CPA exam.
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