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Ohio is an appealing place to pursue a certified public accountant (CPA) career. The state has many large population centers and hosts several Fortune 500 companies, including Procter & Gamble and Nationwide.
Many accountants decide to become CPAs. While it is not required to be a CPA to practice accounting in Ohio, this credential demonstrates knowledge, experience, and expertise. Some employers will not hire accountants who are not CPAs.
To become an Ohio CPA, candidates need to meet education, experience, and exam requirements. Discover information on earning licensure in Ohio with this helpful guide.
Education Requirements for Becoming a CPA in Ohio
For CPA licensure, accountants need to take the Uniform CPA Examination offered by the CPA Examination Services (CPAES). The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) requires that candidates meet several educational requirements before sitting for the exam.
Ohio CPA requirements include earning 120 credits from an accredited institution or a score of at least 670 on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Though the GMAT score alternative may seem desirable, candidates who choose this option may not be able to apply for CPA reciprocity in other states.
These requirements apply to simply taking the exam — accountants must complete 150 credits and earn a baccalaureate degree to acquire CPA certification in Ohio. Since the typical bachelor's degree program is only 120 credits, some aspiring CPAs take bachelor's-to-master's programs to complete their education requirements and prepare for the CPA exam.
Concentrations, Credits, and Course Acceptance
Within the 120 credits required to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination, candidates must complete specific courses. These include 24 credits in business subjects, which may cover one or more of the following:
- Business law
- Business communication
- Business statistics
- Additional courses that receive "business" designations by the college or university
Prospective CPAs must also complete an additional 24 undergraduate credits in accounting. Within these accounting credits, students must take at least one of the following courses:
- Financial accounting
- Management accounting
- Auditing with coverage of generally accepted auditing standards
Eighteen accounting graduate credits will also fulfill this Ohio CPA requirement, though coursework in internal auditing will only count toward general accounting credit hours. Commercial CPA review courses do not count as part of the academic requirement, though they may be accepted as accounting electives if taken at accredited institutions.
Students may be able to submit College Level Examination Program and online courses as part of their education requirements. If a student has undertaken a professional program, they may receive an educational credit toward the exam if the program has an academic component or if NASBA approves it.
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Ohio Experience Requirements
In addition to taking the test, Ohio accountants must have at least one work or internship experience verified by a CPA before applying for certification. The Accountancy Board of Ohio sets the following experience requirements:
- If accountants have taken 150 credits of college credit before the exam, they must have one year (2,000 hours) of experience to receive approval.
- If a candidate has accrued fewer than 150 credits before the exam, they need two years of experience for approval and must complete the 150 credit hours before applying for CPA certification.
- If an accountant has achieved a 670 minimum score on the GMAT, they must have the equivalent of four years of work experience before applying for the exam.
Before applying for licensure with the Board, aspiring CPAs must also take professional standards and responsibilities credits, commonly known as ethics. Ohio is a one-tier CPA state, which does not require candidates to earn experience after earning certification.
CPA Exam Requirements
All aspiring CPAs around the country must take the Uniform CPA Exam. The test has four sections, though some states have additional sections. Ohio does not have an additional section.
Candidates must achieve a 75% grade on each of the four sections to pass. These sections include:
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
- Regulation (REG)
Eligibility to Take the Exam
Aspiring Ohio CPAs must be at least 18 years old and have state residency to take the CPA exam. Before accountants can apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam, they need to have completed at least 120 credits in college.
Specifically, they must have finished the accounting and business course requirements before seeking eligibility. Candidates also need to have completed a year (2,000 hours) of employment or internship hours to qualify for the test.
If you use GMAT eligibility to take the Uniform CPA Exam, you must also have four years of experience (or 8,000 hours) to qualify to take the exam. Individuals who meet these requirements must submit an application and transcripts to NASBA.
Students who completed their education outside of the United States must have their credentials evaluated by an approved body. Aspiring Ohio CPAs do not need to take the ethics exam administered by CPAES, but the Board requires three hours of coursework before CPA certification in Ohio.
Applying for and Scheduling the Exam
To apply to take the exam, accountants should decide how many of the four sections they plan to take at a time. They should only apply for sections they are prepared to complete within the next six months.
Next, they should request that their postsecondary schools send transcripts listing their required courses. Candidates should see their Ohio CPA applications approved or rejected within 2-4 weeks of completion. Students can submit the Testing Accommodations Request Form to receive modifications under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Once applicants receive approval to take the exam, they may complete the four required sections individually and/or in any order. However, to become an Ohio CPA, each candidate must pass (75% correct or more) all four sections within 18 months. Exam credit expires after 18 months if a test taker has not passed one or more sections.
Individuals who do not pass one or more sections of the exam can apply for re-examination by submitting registration and examination fees. However, if they were a college student when they applied for the first exam, they may not be considered a re-examination candidate.
After Passing the Exam
Once a candidate has passed the exam, they can apply for CPA licensure. To do so, they need to present the following materials to the Board:
- Criminal records check sent to the Board from an approved vendor
- A passing grade report from CPAES
- Proof of 150 credits of college credit, provided by CPAES
- Record of Experience Form (on the application form)
- Statement of Verifying CPA (on the application form)
- A course in professional standards and responsibilities focused on accountancy law and rules in Ohio, taken within the last year
After the Board approves the application, new CPAs receive information about the two-year reporting period and continuing education requirements.
Each new CPA must complete 40 credits of continuing education in the initial two-year reporting period after receiving approval. This reporting period starts on Jan. 1 of the year they obtain the certification and ends on Dec. 31 of the following year. New CPAs do not have to complete a certain number of credits per year nor take specific continuing education requirements during this time.
Throughout their careers, Ohio CPAs must complete 120 continuing education credits every three years, with at least 20 credits finished each year by Dec. 31. If they do not complete continuing education every year, CPAs will be fined 10 dollars per missing credit.
Questions About CPAs in Ohio
What is required to be a CPA in Ohio?
Aspiring CPAs must qualify for the Uniform CPA Exam by taking a certain number and type of college courses or achieving a minimum GMAT score. Each candidate must submit an application, a background check, and proof of a professional standards and responsibilities course to the Accountancy Board of Ohio.
How do I transfer my CPA license in Ohio?
A CPA licensed in another state seeking CPA licensure in Ohio must submit an application, a background check, the Authorization for Interstate Exchange of Examination and Licensure Information form, proof of a professional standards and responsibilities course, and an application feed to the Accountancy Board of Ohio.
How long does it take in Ohio to become a CPA?
Typically, an aspiring CPA must earn a bachelor's degree (usually four years), complete 2,000 hours (around one year) of work or internship experience, pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam, and submit an application to the Accountancy Board of Ohio. Ohio CPA licensure stipulates 150 total credits, requiring students to earn about 30 credits beyond the typical 120 in a bachelor's program.
Is getting a CPA license in Ohio hard?
Ohio CPA candidates must meet several rigorous requirements, including many years of education — including graduate work — along with experience and four sections of a comprehensive examination.
How many credits do you need to sit for the CPA exam in Ohio?
Applicants need a minimum of 120 credits of college coursework to sit for the exam. Alternatively, they may submit a 670 minimum GMAT score instead of course hours.
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