Becoming a CPA: The Process

Plan for an exciting career after graduation! The accounting profession is thriving, and you are a big part of why. CPAs represent some of the most respected and trusted business professionals, and are widely known for high ethical standards, dedication to lifelong learning, business acumen, and leadership. All of these and more are why the CPA license is one of the most highly sought-after professional certifications.

Becoming-a-CPA---WebGraphic-1 Plan Your Accounting School College Experience
Find an accounting school program that is a good fit for you, work toward your 150 semester hours of general college education and earn your baccalaureate degree in accounting! Make sure that:

  • 33 semester hours are in accounting;
  • one course is in auditing;
  • 18 semester hours of the accounting courses are upper division accounting; and
  • 27 semester hours are in general business courses.

These courses will help prepare you for the CPA exam.

Becoming-a-CPA---WebGraphic-2Tackle the CPA Exam

The CPA exam consists of four parts that test your knowledge in Regulation (REG), Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR), Business Environment & Concepts (BEC), and Auditing & Attestation (AUD). Because the CPA exam is ever-evolving, be sure to review the CPA Candidates Bulletin: Roadmap to Success, published by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

The exam application process involves getting college transcripts approved and submitting an application to NASBA’s CPAES, applying to sit for the CPA exam in Missouri, and obtaining your Notice to Schedule (NTS) for the exam sections you plan to take in the next six months.

The exam is now offered year-round, and you can take the exam sections in any order, so you can plan your own learning schedule. To prepare, select CPA exam review materials to begin studying, and use complimentary mock CPA exam sessions to take practice tests in a realistic simulation. Schedule and arrive for success at your selected Prometric testing center.

While awaiting your scores (please allow a few weeks), it’s time to study for your next section, and (if needed) apply for another NTS. Passing the exam means getting a score of 75 or higher on all four sections within an 18-month period. You can do it!

Becoming-a-CPA---WebGraphic-3 Complete the Ethics and Experience Requirements
At any time during the CPA exam process, you can knock out your open-book, multiple choice AICPA ethics exam requirement for licensure. You can purchase the ethics exam through MOCPA, with MOCPA CPA Candidate Membership included at no extra charge. After all, MOCPA is here to support all Missouri CPAs (even future CPAs)!

Next, it's time to get to work! You will need to complete required profession hours, but how many hours do you need?

Candidates will need 2,000 hours (one year) of accounting-specific work experience, unless you are dreaming of a career in auditing. For future auditors, the requirement is 4,000 hours (two years), including 2,000 hours (one year) in an auditing-specific role. Keep in mind, your work experience must be signed off on by a licensed CPA as part of your licensure application.

Becoming-a-CPA---WebGraphic-4[2] Apply for CPA Licensure
After completing the previous requirements, you’re ready to become a CPA! Next it’s time to fill out your CPA license application form (select "Initial Application") and await your CPA certificate!

Becoming-a-CPA---WebGraphic-5[2]Join Your Colleagues in MOCPA Membership
Your career as a CPA is just beginning. Join more than 9,000 colleagues and friends in the profession by becoming a MOCPA member. Your membership helps you to connect with your peers, stay current on changing issues, develop as a leader, and advance as a profession. Click here to join MOCPA today!

Got More Questions?
Click here for answers to additional questions. Click here to learn how to maintain and renew your CPA license. To learn more about the CPA licensing process, please contact the Missouri State Board of Accountancy (MOSBA) at (573) 751-0012 or For more information about MOCPA membership, please contact (800) 264-7966 or

This information was compiled as a resource for CPA candidates, but please check with the Missouri State Board of Accountancy to obtain the latest candidate information or to confirm specific requirements.