In North Carolina, becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a rewarding and fulfilling career path for those interested in finance, accounting, or aspiring Limited Liability Company owners. CPAs are in high demand and enjoy lucrative salaries, job security, and growth opportunities. In North Carolina, as in any other state, aspiring CPAs must fulfill certain educational, experience, and examination requirements to become licensed. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps to Becoming a CPA in North Carolina and provide valuable tips and resources to help you succeed.
Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you gain knowledge through thorough research and market study. Before you become a CPA, all the steps in this article must guide you.
On this page, you’ll learn about the following:
What is a CPA?
A CPA, or Certified Public Accountant, is a professional accountant who meets the educational, examination, and experience requirements to become licensed in North Carolina. CPAs are accounting, finance, and taxation experts, providing valuable services to individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.
In North Carolina, CPAs are licensed and regulated by the North Carolina Board of Accountancy, ensuring that they adhere to strict professional and ethical standards. CPAs in North Carolina offer a range of services, including but not limited to:
- Tax planning and preparation for individuals, LLCs, and corporations
- Financial statement preparation and analysis
- Auditing and assurance services
- North Carolina Business Consulting
- Internal control and risk management
- Forensic accounting and fraud investigation
As a CPA, one can work in various sectors, including public accounting firms, North Carolina Corporations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, or as a self-employed professional. Regardless of the specific role, a CPA has the necessary knowledge, skills, and expertise to help clients navigate the complexities of financial management and make informed decisions.
To maintain their CPA license in North Carolina, CPAs must also adhere to continuing professional education (CPE) requirements, ensuring that they stay up-to-date with current accounting standards, tax regulations, and industry best practices. This ensures North Carolina CPAs provide their clients with the highest service and expertise.
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How to Become a CPA in North Carolina
Suppose you’re considering becoming a CPA in North Carolina. In that case, it’s important to understand the steps and requirements involved in obtaining your license and starting your professional journey. This step-by-step guide will walk you through becoming a CPA.
Step 1: Fulfill The Educational Requirements
The first step to becoming a CPA in North Carolina is to complete the necessary education requirements. The North Carolina Board of Accountancy requires CPA candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university. Additionally, candidates must complete 150 semester hours of college education, including specific coursework in accounting and business.
In North Carolina, CPA candidates must complete at least 24 semester hours in accounting courses, including:
- Financial Accounting
- Managerial Accounting
- Accounting Information Systems
- Governmental or Not-For-Profit Accounting
It is important to note that introductory accounting courses may not be counted towards the 24-hour requirement.
In addition to accounting courses, CPA candidates in North Carolina must also complete at least 24 semester hours in business-related courses, such as:
- Business Law
Some states also require specific coursework, such as North Carolina-specific ethics courses, so check with the North Carolina Board of Accountancy for any unique requirements.
Here is the coursework breakdown for becoming a CPA in North Carolina.
|Accounting Information Systems
Step 2: Pass The Uniform CPA Examination
After completing the educational requirements, the next step to becoming a CPA in North Carolina is to pass the Uniform CPA Examination on the NASBA website.
The CPA Exam is a comprehensive, four-part test designed to assess a candidate’s knowledge and skills in accounting and business. The four sections of the CPA Exam are:
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
- Regulation (REG)
Each section of the CPA Exam is scored on a scale of 0 to 99, with a passing score of 75 or higher required for each section. The CPA Exam is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and is offered at Prometric testing centers throughout the United States and, more specifically, in North Carolina.
CPA Exam Application Process
To apply for the CPA Exam in North Carolina, candidates must first create an account with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Once an account is created, candidates can submit their applications and send their official college transcripts to NASBA for evaluation. NASBA will then determine the candidate’s eligibility to sit for the CPA Exam based on their education and will provide an Authorization to Test (ATT) once approved. The required fee for the North Carolina CPA exam application costs $774 (4 exam sections) + $230 application fee.
CPA Exam Scheduling
Once candidates receive their ATT, they can schedule their CPA Exam sections at a Prometric testing center. The CPA Exam is offered during four testing windows throughout the year:
- January 1 – March 10
- April 1 – June 10
- July 1 – September 10
- October 1 – December 10
It is important to note that candidates must pass all four sections of the CPA Exam within an 18-month window, which begins upon passing the first section. If a candidate does not pass all four sections within this time frame, they will lose credit for the oldest passed section and must retake it.
Step 3: Complete The Experience Requirement
In addition to education and examination requirements, CPA candidates in North Carolina must fulfill an experience requirement to become licensed. The North Carolina Board of Accountancy requires candidates to complete at least one year (or 2,000 hours) of supervised work experience in accounting, auditing, tax, or management advisory services.
A licensed CPA must supervise the work experience with an active license in North Carolina or another jurisdiction with substantially equivalent requirements. It is important to note that the experience requirement must be completed within a timeframe of, at most, 36 months.
It is recommended that CPA candidates keep detailed records of their work experience, including dates, hours, tasks, and supervisor information. This documentation will be required when applying for licensure with the North Carolina Board of Accountancy.
Step 4: Pass The North Carolina Ethics Exam
Candidates must also pass an ethics exam before becoming a licensed CPA in North Carolina. The North Carolina Board of Accountancy may require a specific ethics course and exam, or candidates may be required to take the AICPA Professional Ethics Exam. This self-study course and exam cover ethical reasoning, independence, integrity, objectivity, and professional conduct. Candidates must score 90% or higher on the ethics exam to pass.
Step 5: Apply For Licensure
Once all educational, examination, and experience requirements have been met, CPA candidates can apply for licensure with the North Carolina Board of Accountancy. Candidates must apply, pay $100 initial license fee, $100 annual renewal, and document their education, examination scores, work experience, and ethics exam completion.
After the North Carolina Board of Accountancy reviews and approves the application, candidates will be issued their CPA license and can begin practicing as a Certified Public Accountant in North Carolina.
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How Much Does a CPA Make?
The salary of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can vary greatly depending on factors such as years of experience, industry, company size, and job location. The average salary range for a CPA in North Carolina is between $60,000 and $120,000 annually.
Entry-level CPAs with less than one year of experience can expect to earn an average salary of around $50,000 to $60,000 per year. As CPAs gain experience, their earning potential typically increases. Those with five to nine years of experience can earn an average salary of $70,000 to $90,000 per year, while CPAs with more than ten years of experience can earn upwards of $100,000 or more annually.
In North Carolina, CPAs working in metropolitan areas or specialized industries, such as finance or technology, may command higher salaries than those in smaller cities or industries with lower demand for accounting services.
Additionally, obtaining specialized certifications, such as the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), or pursuing advanced degrees can further increase a CPA’s earning potential in accounting and finance.
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How to Save Money While Starting a Becoming Cpa in North Carolina
First and foremost, grasping the importance of budgeting is crucial. Creating a comprehensive budget to track and control expenses is an excellent starting point. By evaluating your income and prioritizing your expenditures, you will gain a better understanding of where your money is going. Ensure that you have a clear outline of your essential expenses, such as rent, utilities, and transportation costs, and try to minimize discretionary spending wherever possible.
In your journey to become a CPA, education plays a pivotal role. Tuition fees can be a significant burden, but there are ways to mitigate these costs. Look into community colleges and online courses, which often offer more affordable options for foundation classes. By completing prerequisite courses at cost-effective institutions, you can significantly reduce your overall education expenses.
Furthermore, textbooks can add up to a significant amount over time. Instead of purchasing new textbooks directly from the campus bookstore, consider checking online marketplaces or book rental services. These alternatives provide cost-efficient options that can help you save considerable sums of money, especially if you plan to resell the books once you have completed the courses.
While education is vital, obtaining practical experience is equally important for budding CPAs. Pursuing internships or part-time positions at accounting firms can provide invaluable professional exposure. However, unpaid internships couldn’t be a feasible option for everyone. Thus, exploring paid internship opportunities should be a priority. Seek out firms that offer competitive stipends or consider part-time jobs at local accounting firms while continuing your education. Such positions will provide you with a steady income stream, while also giving you invaluable insights into the world of accounting.
Additionally, networking is often overlooked but essential when beginning a career as a CPA. Attend networking events or join professional organizations related to your field. Building relationships with experienced professionals can open doors, present lucrative job offers, and possibly grant you access to scholarships or funding opportunities.
North Carolina specifically offers unique resources to aspiring CPAs. Research state-specific scholarships, grants, or loan forgiveness programs that could lighten your financial load. Utilize these programs to your advantage, as they are specifically tailored to help students from various backgrounds pursue successful accounting careers.
Lastly, managing personal finances requires a proactive approach. As an aspiring CPA starting out, it may be challenging to save substantial amounts of money. However, implementing small changes can still make a notable impact. Cut unnecessary expenses by preparing home-cooked meals instead of eating out, minimize entertainment expenses, and consider sharing housing costs with roommates. These seemingly small adjustments, when practiced consistently, will save you money in the long run.
In conclusion, becoming a CPA and starting a career in North Carolina can be an expensive endeavor. However, by adopting certain strategies and making informed financial decisions, aspiring CPAs can significantly reduce the financial burden. Implementing tactics such as budgeting effectively, seeking out affordable education options, pursuing paid internships, engaging in networking opportunities, and utilizing state-specific resources are ways to save money while embarking on this journey. Remember, implementing small changes today will contribute to your financial stability tomorrow.
Becoming a CPA in North Carolina requires dedication and hard work, but the rewards are worthwhile. With a strong foundation in education and experience, as well as successful completion of the CPA Exam and ethics exam, aspiring CPAs can enjoy a fulfilling and lucrative career in accounting and finance. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a licensed CPA in North Carolina and making a significant impact in finance.