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I Earned My Accounting Degree. Now What?

Written on Apr 20, 2022
Certified Public Accountant license

(Tumisu / pixabay)

Congratulations on all your hard work! Your accounting degree puts you in high demand in the job market, opening up all kinds of opportunities, such as accounting, finance, analytical, advisory, technology, and auditing positions.

Some accounting graduates go on to earn their Certified Public Accountant license. Why? As a CPA, they:

  • Open up more doors for themselves in the job market
  • Look more attractive to employers
  • Have more prestige
  • Earn higher pay
  • Have more job security
  • Are more likely to advance to senior positions
  • Positively affect many areas of a business and gain additional job satisfaction in return

Convinced to Get Your CPA License?

Great! Your time and effort will pay dividends.

Here’s How to Become a CPA in Five Steps:

  1. Take the CPA Exam
  2. Meet the ethics requirements
  3. Build your work experience
  4. Complete your criminal background check
  5. Apply for licensure

Step 1: Take the CPA Exam

Are You Qualified to Take the Exam?

After completing 150 semester hours (225 quarter hours) of college education, you can sit for the CPA exam. As a part of your 150 semester hours, the Accountancy Board of Ohio requires CPAs to have had 30 semester hours of accounting and 24 semester hours in business courses.

If you do not have 150 total hours of college credit, no worries. You can still take the CPA exam if you have:

  • 30 hours of accounting courses, plus
  • 24 hours of business courses, plus
  • 620 or higher on the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)

Scheduling Your Exam

You will first need to register with The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), the association that manages the candidate database for the CPA Exam.

If you are ready to test within the next six months, complete and submit an online application and academic transcript and pay application and exam fees on NASBA’s website . You can check the Accountancy Board of Ohio’s website for up-to-date cost information.

NASBA will review your application, verify your eligibility, ensure fees have been paid, and then contact you with a Notice To Schedule (NTS), which allows you to choose your testing site and date.

Schedule your exam date, time, and location with Prometric, the company who oversees and offers authorized test sites to deliver the exam.

The CPA exam is a standardized test consisting of four sections that you can schedule to take in any order. Note that testing is not available during March, June, September, and December, but you must take and pass within 18 months. Each part takes approximately four hours to complete, for a total of 16 hours.

Preparing for the Exam

We recommend that you don’t try to take all of the sections at once.

Here is what each section covers, as developed by The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA):

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD) covers knowledge of auditing protocols, auditing standards, and other norms pertaining to attest engagements.
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) addresses knowledge of the general business environment and business concepts that candidates need to know in order to understand the underlying business reasons for and accounting implications of business transactions.
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) focuses on knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles for business enterprises, not-for-profit organizations, and governmental entities.
  • Regulation (REG) assesses knowledge of federal taxation, legal and professional responsibilities, ethics, and business law.

Sections will test you on your conceptual knowledge plus your application of that knowledge to real-world situations.

The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) advises that you use resources to help prepare you for the exam, finish the exam tutorial, and complete the sample tests sample tests to give you an advantage and boost your confidence before proceeding to the actual exam.

The exam is a computer-based test. After completing each section, Prometric forwards your responses to the AICPA for scoring.

Step 2: Meet the Ethics Requirement

The Accountancy Board of Ohio requires three hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) in ethics to apply for or renew an Ohio CPA license. OSCPA offers continuing education courses for CPAs that fill this requirement. They are available across the state and throughout the year.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

The Accountancy Board of Ohio requires work experience in one or more accounting services to obtain your CPA license. You can earn experience through internships or employment inside or outside of public accounting. Part-time work (less than 40 hours per week) totaling at least 2,000 hours per year counts, too, and everything must be verified by a CPA.

To learn more about what counts towards your work experience and how much is required for your CPA license, click here.

Step 4: Complete a Criminal Background Check

The Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and the FBI will conduct separate criminal record checks with individual processing and handling fees, and the fingerprinting company will charge a fee as well. Each background check totals in the $30 range, or around $60 altogether. These are estimated figures and will vary slightly from county to county.

Ohio applicants use “WebCheck” to submit fingerprints to BCI electronically. Most sheriffs' offices in Ohio participate in “National WebCheck” and can assist you with this part. You can find other “WebCheck” vendors on the Ohio Attorney General’s Office website or by clicking here. Expect results within 7-10 business days.

Out-of-state applicants can request fingerprint cards and instructions from the Accountancy Board of Ohio when they complete their CPA certification application.

Step 5: Apply for Licensure

Final step–you’re almost there!

Create your account and complete your application for licensure at

Complete and upload two pieces of information. First is your Record of Experience Form for each employer. If your supervisor is not or was not a CPA, also complete the Statement of Verifying CPA Form for the relevant work experience position.

Secondly, show that you completed three credits of a board-approved course in professional standards and responsibilities (PSR) within the last year, emphasizing Ohio accountancy law and board rules. You can find approved courses on the Accountancy Board’s website at

At The Ohio Society of CPAs, we are committed to readying future CPAs and sharing information that leads to a better future for accountants and business in Ohio. Visit our website to learn more about how we can help you in your accounting career.

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