New Jersey requires that individuals seeking to become certified public accountants hold a bachelor’s degree and be at least 18 years old. Applicants are not required to be a U.S. citizen or a resident of New Jersey. However, applicants are required to have a valid Social Security number. Individuals who meet these qualifications can take the first step to getting licensed by taking the Uniform CPA Examination.
Step 1: CPA exam in New Jersey
Sitting for the CPA exam in New Jersey requires that candidates hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, which includes coursework in accounting and general business courses.
Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university and have obtained 150 hours of credit. An advanced degree qualifies in lieu of a bachelor’s degree if the proper coursework is satisfied. Applicants can apply to take the exam after obtaining 120 hours of education if the New Jersey Board of Accountancy grants them a waiver.
The coursework includes:
- 60 semester hours of courses in English, history, foreign languages, mathematics, general psychology, philosophy, biological sciences, physical sciences, economics, sociology, religion, government, political science, geography, fine arts and music
- 60 semester hours in professional courses, including:
- 24 semester hours in accounting including municipal and government accounting
- 6 semester hours in business law
- 6 semester hours in finance
- 6 semester hours in economics
- 18 semester hours in related business subjects
Application and test fees
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) administers the exam. Applicants must arrange to have their educational transcripts sent to NASBA, showing proof of a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited school and a minimum of 120 hours of coursework. Applicants must also submit a 2-inch by 2-inch photo.
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, applicants can select a date to take the CPA exam. The NTS expires in six months, after which candidates must submit a new application. The examination is available in the first two months of each calendar quarter.
State law requires that first-time applicants submit a $225 application fee plus exam fees. Those who are retaking the exam are required to pay a registration fee and exam fees. Registration fees are $115 for four sections, $100 for three sections, $85 for two sections and $70 for one section.
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.
In addition to the state’s application fee, there are substantial administrative costs that must be paid in advance to the NASBA.
Taking, passing and retaking the CPA exam
The passing score for each of the four exam 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 section was taken. Examination credits expire by section, and applicants will lose credit for each section passed outside of the 18-month period.
Step 2: CPA license in New Jersey
After successfully passing all four sections of the CPA exam, the ethics exam and obtaining the required work experience, applicants may then apply to become a certified public accountant in New Jersey. Applicants will be mailed a licensing application once their final exam scores are received by the Board of Accountancy. Applicants must submit the application to New Jersey along with an application fee that ranges from $30 to $90.
Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university and achieve 150 hours of education.
One year of experience is required for licensing and can be obtained in the practice of public accountancy. The experience must include intensive and diversified experience in accounting or auditing.
Ethics exam in New Jersey
In addition to passing the CPA exam, applicants must take an ethics exam on the laws, regulations and code of ethical conduct for New Jersey. The approved ethics course providers are listed on the New Jersey Board of Accountancy website.
Out-of-state CPA licenses
New Jersey allows CPAs in good standing and licensed in other states or U.S. jurisdictions to practice in the state as long as the issuing state has been verified to be substantially equivalent to the NASBA’s Qualification Appraisal. New Jersey also recognizes individuals who hold foreign CPA certificates of licensure, as long as they meet the requirements of the New Jersey Board of Accountancy.
Disclaimer: Requirements for New Jersey CPA test-takers and license applicants are subject to change. Visit the state’s Board of Public Accountancy website to check for recent revisions to New Jersey’s CPA requirements.
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