Alabama requires anyone interested in becoming a licensed certified public accountant to have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or another discipline. You must also be at least 19 years old, and a U.S. citizen or legal resident of the United States. Once you’ve met these requirements, the first step toward becoming a licensed CPA in Alabama is to pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
Step 1: CPA exam in Alabama
To sit for Alabama’s CPA exam, you must have a bachelor’s degree and satisfy the state’s 150 hours of education, which includes coursework in accounting, business law and other business-related courses or have a graduate degree in accounting from an accredited school.
Education requirements in Alabama
Unless your degree is in accounting and encompasses the required coursework, you will need to take specific business and accounting curriculum.
The coursework includes:
- 33 semester hours in accounting, with minimum requirements in each of the following:
- financial accounting (9 semester hours)
- auditing (6 semester hours)
- taxation (6 semester hours)
- management accounting (3 semester hours)
- governmental and not-for-profit accounting (3 semester hours)
- accounting electives (6 semester hours)
- business law (3 semester hours)
- 27 semester hours in business courses other than accounting from among the following: economics; legal and social environment of business; additional business law; marketing; finance; organization, group and individual behavior; quantitative applications in business; communications skills; business ethics
Application and test fees
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) administers the online test. You must arrange to have sent to the NASBA your education transcripts demonstrating a bachelor’s degree or higher in accounting from an accredited school, or a general bachelor’s degree or higher and completion of the required education hours.
The process to apply for the CPA exam starts with requesting and receiving authorization to take the test, followed by acknowledgement from the state and official notice to schedule (NTS) the exam. Once this process is completed, you can select a date to take the CPA exam. The NTS expires in six months, after which candidates must submit a new application.
State law requires a $100 initial application fee or a $50 re-examination fee, payable to Alabama’s State Board of Public Accountancy. Alabama requires that you submit a declaration of facts, certified by a notary public, to take the CPA exam.
In addition to the state’s application fee, there are substantial administrative costs that must be paid in advance to the NASBA.
The Uniform CPA Examination comprises four sections:
- Auditing and Attestation
- Financial Accounting and Reporting
- Business Environment and Concepts
Each section of the exam has a specified administration fee. Applicants may take one or more of the four required sections at a time. In addition to the administration fee for each section, CPA exam applicants are charged a separate fee for each testing session they take.
Taking, passing and retaking the CPA exam in Alabama
The passing score for each of the four examination sections is 75. Applicants may take the sections individually and in any order, but are required to pass all four within a rolling 18-month period, which begins on the date the first examination section passed was taken.
Credit for any section passed shall be valid for 18 months from the actual date the examination sections were taken. Examination credits expire by section, and applicants will lose credit for each section passed outside the 18-month period.
In Alabama, test-takers must receive an average combined grade of at least 50 on the sections you’ve taken or receive a grade of 60 or higher on at least one of the four tests to retake the section in the next testing window. Test-takers who do not meet the minimum scoring criteria must wait at least one year before applying to retake the CPA exam in Alabama.
Step 2: CPA license in Alabama
After successfully passing all four sections of the CPA exam, you can apply to become a certified public accountant in Alabama.
Work experience in Alabama
Alabama is a two-tier state. That means candidates who pass the exam will receive a certificate but not a license to practice as a certified public accountant until they meet the work experience requirements. To become licensed, you must have one year of full-time experience as a public accountant, or two years of accounting experience in the private sector, government or academia.
Out-of-state CPA licenses
Alabama allows CPAs in good standing and licensed in other states or U.S. jurisdictions to practice in the state. Alabama also recognizes individuals who hold foreign CPA certificates of licensure, provided they meet the requirements of Alabama’s State Board of Public Accountancy.
Disclaimer: Requirements for Alabama CPA test-takers and license applicants are subject to change. Please visit the state’s Board of Public Accountancy website to check for recent revisions to Alabama’s CPA requirements.
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