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Georgia is home to many industries, including electric vehicle manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture. Popular metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Savannah, and Augusta offer a healthy business landscape. Currently, the Peach State hosts the headquarters of the United Parcel Service, Aflac, and Coca-Cola.
Because of its welcoming commerce environment, Georgia's accounting professionals can explore many available opportunities. Earning certified public accountant (CPA) credentials in Georgia can bolster candidates' chances of landing careers as financial analysts, auditors, or advisors in the state's top sectors.
The state requires each candidate to complete an accredited education program, pass the four CPA exam sections, and get relevant work experience to become a CPA in Georgia. Georgia CPAs must also maintain licensure through continuing professional education (CPE) and renewals.
Individuals looking to launch accounting careers in the state can use this guide to discover Georgia CPA requirements for education, experience, and exam eligibility.
Education Requirements for Becoming a CPA in Georgia
Prospective CPAs in Georgia must meet the state's educational requirements for licensure. Georgia requires each CPA exam candidate to have completed at least 150 credits and hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. The credit requirement includes at least 30 credits in non-introductory accounting coursework and 24 credits in business-related courses.
Completing a bachelor's degree in accounting typically satisfies a portion of the coursework requirements. A candidate often pursues a graduate certificate or degree to complete all required 150 credits.
An accelerated bachelor's-to-master's accounting program can provide the required number of credits for licensure while saving learners time earning two degrees.
Concentrations, Credits, and Course Acceptance
Individuals pursuing CPA licensure in Georgia must first complete a bachelor's degree at a four-year accredited college or university before applying for the exam. At least 20 credits must be in non-introductory accounting courses.
Then, to earn CPA licensure, Georgia requires each candidate to have at least 150 credits from an accredited school. The state specifies that 30 of those credits must be in non-introductory accounting, and 24 must relate to business to ensure a strong accounting background. A degree in finance, accounting, or business administration can usually satisfy these requirements.
The Georgia State Board of Accountancy (GSBA) does not ask degree programs to include specific courses. However, programs designed to prepare students for CPA licensure typically include the following courses:
Data analytics in accounting
Advanced managerial accounting
Auditing and financial control systems
CPA candidates who completed coursework outside the United States must have their credits evaluated by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) before applying for the CPA exam in Georgia.
Featured Online Accounting Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Georgia Experience Requirements
Georgia requires each candidate to have experience in either accounting, industry, business, government, or teaching before applying for licensure. Georgia defines work experience as employment rather than volunteer work or internships.
Accounting experience must cover 12 months of full-time work for at least 2,000 hours within one year before applying for licensure. The work also must come from a practicing CPA and include any combination of accounting, auditing, consulting, and taxation skills.
Industry, business, and government experience should also be 2,000 hours for at least 12 months of full-time work within one year before applying. Candidates should regularly use accounting, auditing, or financial skills to qualify. Additionally, industry and business experience requires direct supervision by a CPA or registered public accountant in Georgia.
Eligible teaching experience must occur at an accredited four-year college or university and include at least two non-introductory accounting courses. A candidate must teach at least 24 semester hours between 12-36 months.
CPA Exam Requirements
Before getting a Georgia CPA license, prospective professionals must pass the Uniform CPA Examination. The exam tests candidates' auditing, accounting, business, and regulatory skills. Although the exam is the same in every state, Georgia outlines specific requirements for CPA exam takers, as detailed below.
Eligibility to Take the Exam
Before applying for Georgia's CPA exam, a candidate must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.
Additionally, official transcripts must prove that at least 20 credits must come from non-introductory accounting courses. Georgia counts the credits for the first two accounting courses a candidate takes as introductory. Therefore, these credits do not qualify for the CPA application.
Unlike other states, Georgia does not require CPA candidates to take an ethics exam. However, applicants must exhibit good moral character for approval. To take the exam, candidates must also be 18 years old and maintain United States citizenship or qualifying legal residency.
Once the GSBA approves an application, the applicant can sit for the CPA exam.
Applying for and Scheduling the Exam
Applicants can apply for the Georgia CPA exam through NASBA's CPA Central.
To apply, applicants must request that their schools send their official transcripts directly to CPA Examination Services (CPAES). Additionally, anyone with international credits must have them evaluated by NASBA, with results sent directly from NASBA or the student to CPAES. Candidates must complete all necessary credits before applying for the exam.
A prospective CPA must also pay a $170 fee with their application. Upon receipt of all required information, CPAES sends an acknowledgment through email. However, receiving a Notice to Schedule (NTS) may take up to four weeks. Georgia requires the NTS to prove eligibility for the CPA exam.
Each of the four exam sections costs $238.15. Test-takers can schedule all four at once or separately and take them in any order. However, a candidate must pass all four exam sections within 18 months of passing their first section. After this time, they must retake any passed exam sections for the complete CPA exam to count as passed.
Test-takers can apply to retake any exam section for an $85 fee.
After Passing the Exam
Candidates who pass all four sections of the Georgia CPA exam can apply for licensure immediately if they have completed their work experience requirements. Exam results do not expire, giving candidates time to complete the required experience before applying.
CPA candidates should apply for licensure within one year of finishing their work experience.
NASBA's online CPA licensing system houses the online application for licensure in Georgia. A candidate can register an account for free to upload their proof of work experience, pay the $140 initial license fee, and apply. The approval process takes about two weeks.
Employers and CPA license-holders can verify their credentials using CPAverify.
Maintaining a Georgia CPA License
A Georgia CPA license expires on Dec. 31 in odd-numbered years. Licensed CPAs can submit an online application or a paper application. Either application must be received by the GSBA on or before Dec. 31 of the renewal year to qualify.
CPAs who do not send their applications on time will have their licenses moved into lapsed status. These CPAs must apply for reinstatement to have their licenses moved back to active status.
Georgia requires each licensed CPA to complete 80 CPE hours, with at least 20 hours each year. CPAs can earn CPE credits for authoring industry materials, completing college credits, and participating in approved organization events. At least 16 required hours must occur in accounting or auditing subjects.
CPAs moving to Georgia from other states must have active licensure from their state and complete Georgia's education requirements. However, they do not need to earn CPE hours for the rest of the calendar year in which they receive a Georgia reciprocal license.
Accounting firms in Georgia must have a simple majority owned by licensed CPAs. Firms must renew their licenses by June 30 of even-numbered years.
Questions About Georgia CPA Requirements
What is required to be a CPA in Georgia?
Georgia CPA requirements include 150 educational credits with at least 30 credits in accounting and 24 in business and at least one year of qualifying work experience. Candidates must also pass all four CPA exam sections within 18 months.
How do I become a CPA without an accounting degree in Georgia?
A CPA does not need an accounting degree in Georgia, but they do need at least 30 credits in accounting. Candidates can satisfy this requirement by taking extra courses or pursuing certificates or master's degrees in accounting.
Can you call yourself an accountant without a CPA in Georgia?
Accountants do not have to be licensed CPAs in Georgia. However, many employers prefer individuals with CPA licensure. Licensed CPAs often command higher salaries and can pursue more diverse job opportunities.
How long does it take to get a CPA license in Georgia?
Including education, work, and licensing requirements, it takes five or six years to become fully licensed as a CPA in Georgia. If it fits their schedule, CPA candidates can complete some work experience while attending school to accelerate the process.
How much does it cost to become a CPA in Georgia?
An initial CPA license in Georgia costs $140. Prospective CPAs must also pay $170 for their first application to sit for the exam and $238.15 for each of the four sections.
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