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New Jersey boasts a diverse population and several booming industries, including a powerful financial services sector. The state's complex financial needs create dynamic career options for certified public accountants (CPAs).
For many individuals and businesses, CPAs provide financial expertise. These professionals offer financial analysis and services with fiduciary responsibility. They may be better equipped to handle licensing and regulation challenges than other accountants.
CPAs also have a rigid state licensing process that includes education, experience, and examination. On this page, we explore New Jersey's CPA requirements and the process required for licensure. Learn more about the available accounting degrees in New Jersey, the experiential options, and what it takes to renew a state license.
Education Requirements for Becoming a CPA in New Jersey
According to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), CPA candidates in New Jersey must meet specific education requirements to sit for the licensing exam. They first need 120 credits and a bachelor's degree from an accredited school to apply for the Uniform CPA Examination. The credits and degree can come from any level and discipline, but they must include accounting and business courses.
After this, CPA candidates need an additional 30 credits to qualify for state licensure in New Jersey. Schools may offer accelerated bachelor's-to-master's programs to help aspiring CPAs satisfy the 150-credit requirement. Candidates can also pursue standalone graduate degrees or certificates to earn these credits.
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Concentrations, Credits, and Course Acceptance
Per NASBA, New Jersey's CPA educational requirements include 120 credits to qualify for the exam and 150 credits to achieve state licensure. Certification candidates need at least 24 credits from accounting courses and 24 credits from accounting classes.
Aspiring CPAs in New Jersey can complete all 150 credits prior to taking the CPA exam, or complete the final 30 credits afterward. Those who take the exam with only 120 completed credits must use NASBA's licensing service to verify their final 30 credits before qualifying for CPA licensure.
To meet these educational requirements, students must complete all academic credits at accredited U.S. institutions. Even if learners transferred credits between schools to complete their degree, the CPA licensure process requires students to submit transcripts from each institution where credits were originally awarded. Courses and credits from professional training or chartered accountant programs do not satisfy the educational credit requirements.
Licensed CPAs also need to take a four-credit New Jersey law and ethics course within six months of earning licensure.
New Jersey Experience Requirements
According to the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy, prospective CPAs need the equivalent of one year of full-time accounting experience for their license — a minimum of 1,750 hours. Part-time experience completed over the course of two consecutive years and still totaling 1,750 hours also qualifies. A licensed New Jersey CPA must supervise and verify this experience.
Once they complete their work experience, candidates must submit a statement of experience form. In two-tier states, candidates need to pass the national exam for CPA certification first and then earn the experience necessary for state licensure. New Jersey's CPA requirements, however, allow candidates to earn experience before they take the exam.
While prospective CPAs can gain professional experience through internships, the work hours must take place after the bachelor's degree. Eligible experience can come from the following services or sectors:
CPA Exam Requirements
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) issues the Uniform CPA Examination, which evaluates prospective CPAs in four critical areas:
Auditing and attestation
Business environment and concepts
Financial accounting and reporting
Though CPA candidates across the nation take the same exam, the eligibility requirements and process varies by state. The following sections highlight New Jersey-specific details.
Eligibility to Take the Exam
In New Jersey, CPA candidates must complete their bachelor's degree to qualify for the Uniform CPA Examination. That means their transcripts must include at least 120 credits, including the 24 business and 24 accounting credits.
Other eligibility requirements for New Jersey test-takers include:
18 years old
Good moral character
If applicable, international transcripts and credits verified through NASBA International Evaluation Services
New Jersey's CPA requirements do not include AICPA's ethics exam. Moreover, the state does not have a residency requirement.
Applying for and Scheduling the Exam
The exam application process takes place through NASBA's online application system, CPA Central. A first-time application costs $160. Applicants must include official transcripts showing the required degrees and credit minimums, a notarization and photo form, and a photograph from the last three months.
Applicants must submit transcripts directly from their schools. Recent graduates may have to wait several weeks for their official transcripts to reflect the completion of their degrees. Candidates with incomplete applications will be ineligible for testing and forfeit their application fee.
Upon receipt of all required materials, NASBA takes 2-4 weeks to process the application. If deemed eligible, prospective CPAs receive a notice to schedule (NTS) for the test sections they indicated they plan to take. Each NTS has a six-month expiration date, so candidates should only apply for test sections they can complete in that time frame. Each section of the exam costs $238.15.
If prospective CPAs do not pass any section of the exam, they can retake those portions of the test. In addition to the $238.15 fee per exam section, they also submit a re-exam registration fee of $80.
After Taking the Exam
CPA candidates in New Jersey have 18 months to pass all sections of the CPA exam. This 18-month window begins on the date of the first exam. Test-takers cannot retake exam sections during the same six-month testing window.
AICPA typically releases exam scores within two weeks of the test date. After passing all sections, aspiring CPAs will receive a congratulatory letter with further licensure instructions. Once a candidate has passed the Uniform CPA Exam, these results do not expire in New Jersey — especially relevant because the state allows candidates to take the Uniform CPA Exam before completing their year of professional experience or the full 150 credits of education.
If candidates pass the CPA exam and fulfill all the educational and work requirements, they apply for licensure from the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy. Licensure applications must include a statement of experience and a criminal record check. The application fee is $75 and the registration fee is $135. The review process typically takes 7-12 weeks.
Employers can verify CPA licenses through the Board's online database.
Retaining New Jersey CPA Licensure
According to the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy, New Jersey has a triennial licensure cycle, meaning licenses renew every three years. The board issues renewal notices 60 days prior to the expiry date. The renewal requirements include 120 credits of continuing professional education (CPE) every three years, including at least 20 credits each year.
Of the 120 credits, 60 must come in technical subjects like business law, information technology, and taxation. Four credits per cycle must be in law and ethics. Public practice accountants also need at least 24 credits in accounting or auditing courses. CPAs should keep at least five years' worth of records for their CPEs in case of an audit.
Licensure renewal costs $135 every three years. New Jersey CPAs can still renew their license up to 30 days after expiration, permitted they pay an additional $50 late fee. After that, the license gets suspended and reinstatement costs $150 on top of the renewal fee.
New Jersey allows out-of-state CPAs and CPA firms to practice inside state borders without a New Jersey license. Furthermore, the state allows non-CPAs to co-own accounting firms, as long as the majority of owners hold CPA licensure.
Questions About New Jersey CPAs
How do I become a CPA in New Jersey?
New Jersey's CPA requirements include a bachelor's degree and at least 150 total credits, including business and accounting courses. Licensure also requires at least one year of professional accounting experience and passing scores on the Uniform CPA Examination.
Who can take the CPA licensure exam in New Jersey?
To qualify for the CPA exam in New Jersey, candidates need a bachelor's degree with at least 120 credits, including 24 credits in general business and 24 credits in accounting.
How long does it take in New Jersey to become a CPA?
The length varies, but it takes about five years to complete the 150-credit requirement, one year for the professional experience, and up to 18 months for the examination portion.
Is getting a CPA license in New Jersey hard?
Getting a CPA can be challenging, as the education and experience requirements take time and commitment. According to AICPA, 2022 cumulative pass rates nationwide were between 44%-60% across the CPA exam's different sections.
What are the NJ CPE requirements?
New Jersey's CPE requirements include 120 credits every triennial period, including at least 20 credits each year. CPAs need 60 credits minimum from qualifying technical subjects and a four-credit ethics course. CPAs who practice public accountancy need at least 24 accounting or auditing credits per triennial period.
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