The bare minimum: Bachelor’s degree
Most states require at least a bachelor’s degree to be eligible for becoming a CPA.
Most states require at least two years of experience in public accounting before allowing you to practice as a CPA. Many also accept accounting experience in other areas such as industry or government, but that usually means they require that you practice for more years.
One-tier or two-tier
Some states require that you pass the CPA exam and simply meet the experience requirements to obtain your certificate and license at the same time. Those are called “one-tier” states. In two-tier states, you receive a certificate once you pass the exam, and the license comes separately, once you fulfill the experience requirements. That’s as deep as we’ll go here – the best idea is to contact your state board to understand exactly what you need.
The 150-hour requirement
Many states now require aspiring CPAs to have 150 semester hours of education to receive certification. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a master’s degree, although that certainly helps. You can also meet the requirement at the undergraduate level, or earn your bachelor’s degree and take a few courses at the graduate level.
Check with your state
Remember, passing the CPA exam only means that you have passed a major milestone on the way to being licensed. From there, it’s between you and the state in which you want to practice – and every state is different. Your best bet is to check with them directly.