American CPA qualifications are recognized worldwide and are useful for both auditors and financial specialists. But is CPA possible for major and non-accounting non-accounting companies? Can you take the CPA exam without an accounting degree?
Minimum educational requirements in accounting
I’m sure you already know that CPA credentials are regulated by individual states. This means that each country sets its own requirements and rules for the certification process. Here’s a general tip on how these CPA requirements usually work.
Most states require CPA candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting to take the exam, but not everyone. This means that you must sit for the exam in one of these states.
At the moment Maine, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Georgia and Alaska do not require an accounting diploma. Remember that you don’t really need to pass the exam in the state in which you plan to get certified. You can take the exam at any Prometric test center in the country, regardless of whether it is in your condition or not.
Earning CPA as a non-accountant major gets harder
I was an economist and took only 1 quarter (2 credit hours) of basic accounting courses in college. But I was able to become a CPA by taking additional courses. So I am living proof that a non-accountant major can become a Certified Accountant.
However, since I acquired the CPA, state accounting boards have improved their requirements and consequently increased the difficulty of obtaining CPA for major non-accounting companies. That’s why we need to start looking for creative ways to meet their expectations and achieve our CPA goals.
Basically, there are three big requirements that must be met to get a licensed CPA: education, exam and experience. In most cases, you must have completed at least 150 hours of crediting at an accredited university before taking the exam to complete the education requirement. The exact pre-exam requirements vary by state, but AICPA recommends 150 credit hours, and most states have turned this recommendation into a rule.
Some states do not require 150 credit hours, but there is usually some type of catch. For example, Vermont and New Hampshire only require 120 credit hours before taking the exam, but you must complete 150 to obtain a license. In Alaska, special rules apply to major non-accounting companies. There, you can take the CPA exam without an accounting diploma if you have at least one year’s experience in working in public accounting under CPA.
Another important thing you need to look at is your state’s rules regarding work experience. Major companies that are not accountants may have difficulty meeting these requirements. Some states are quite flexible about what counts as relevant work experience and can potentially include things like private accounting, teaching, or volunteer work. Part-time work is allowed in some places. Some states may require you to have a CPA as a supervisor, while others may not. It all comes down to the state in which you want to take the exam.