Just like Chartered Accountants (CA’s) are granted a license to practice the profession of Accountancy & Taxation in India, similarly Certified Public Accountants (CPA) are granted the license to practice in US. In some countries, these qualified accountants are called Chartered Accountants (CA’s) and in some countries these are called as Certified Public Accountants.
This Accounting qualification is called Certified Public Accountant in the US and to become a CPA, a Candidate is required to fulfill the 3E’s i.e.
To become a Certified Public Accountant, a candidate has to successfully clear all the exams conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). This is a uniform exam conducted by the AICPA and is the same across all the 55 states in the US.
CPA Exam Eligibility
The eligibility requirement and the experience required to become a Certified Public Accountant varies from state to state and different states have mandated different eligibility requirements as determined by their respective state boards of accountancy. All these 55 states are members of the NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy).
As the minimum education and experience requirement are set by the States, a CPA License is only valid for the state from where it has been taken and not for the whole USA. However, a CPA holder can practice in a different state as well provided he meets the eligibility norms of that state. The eligibility requirement of each state is given here.
The following video provides useful information on how to become a Certified Public Accountant:-
The Exam for becoming a Certified Public Accountant is an online computer based exam held at more than 400 prometric centres across the US. The Exam is conducted twice every quarter. These months in which the testing is available are called “Testing Windows”. The testing schedule is as follows:-
|Testing is Available||Not Available|
|January & February||March|
|April & May||June|
|July & August||September|
|October & November||December|
US CPA Exam Course
The US CPA Exam is a uniform exam and is the same in all the states. It consists of 4 sections and each section focuses on understanding of fundamental principles and how to apply them in real life. The 4 subjects are:-
|Subject||Max Time Allotted|
|Auditing and Attestation (AUD)||4.5 Hours|
|Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)||4 hours|
|Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)||3 hours|
|Regulation (REG)||2.5 hours|
Each exam comprises of Multiple Choice Questions (approx 60%) and Simulations (approx 40%). During the examination, candidates may take a break after completing a “testlet” (either a set of multiple choice questions or a simulation). Once a testlet is completed, however, the candidate is not allowed to return to it, so it is not possible to use the “break time” to improve one’s score by looking up answers. The clock continues to run during breaks.
The Results are declared on a numeric scale of 0-99 and Candidates scoring a minimum of 75% Marks are declared as passed. A detailed guide on How scoring is done in the CPA Exams can be downloaded from this link.
Pursuing CPA US from India
Although the tests are conducted online at the prometric centres, these tests are only conducted in a few specified countries. Unlike CFA & CIA wherein Indian students can appear for exams from India itself, Indian students interested in pursuing CPA from USA cannot appear for such exams from India itself as their is no prometric centre for CPA Exam in India.
Earlier Indians were only allowed to appear for CPA Exam from the exam centres in the US only. However, with an increasing no. of students from India opting for the CPA US Exam, the American Institute of CPA’s (AICPA) has allowed Indians to appear for the CPA US Exam from their prometric centres in the Middle East region.
This change has come into place from 1st October 2014 and now the Indian students can appear for CPA Exam from any of the prometric centres located in the Middle east region i.e. from any of the prometric centres in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon & United Arab Emirates. (Official Press Release)
Although the cost incurred of pursuing this course from the US is higher than the cost incurred in pursuing CA from India, a candidate can complete CPA course in a much lesser time. It normally takes 7-12 months in completing the CPA Course whereas it takes a minimum of 3 years to complete CA.
Candidates who have cleared both CPA & CA have revealed that clearing CPA is much easier than clearing CA. Not only is this Course easier than the Indian CA Course but the presence of good coaching centers which are now present in India for this course has also lead to Indians scoring good marks in the CPA Exams.
Of all the Students who appear for the US CPA Exam from across the Globe, approximately 50% are able to clear these exams. (Refer: CPA Exam Pass Percentage)
CPA Coaching in India
A few years back, there weren’t many good CPA Coaching Institutes in India as a result of which many candidates used to travel to the US for taking the coaching as well.
Apart from the well established Indian Coaching Centers who provide coaching for this course, many established US Coaching Centers have also now opened their franchises in India and provide good quality study material. Now students can pursue all requirements from India and are only required to go to the US to appear for the Exams.
These Coaching Centers not only provide training but also guide on other related things like from which state in the US should Indians appear for the exams, how to fulfill the eligibility criteria etc. Names of a few popular coaching centers for CPA Coaching are shared below:-
- Miles CPA Review