Iowa CPA Exam Requirements 2024: 3 Important Steps

Iowa CPA Exam Requirements

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Iowa CPA Exam Requirements

If you want to become a CPA in Iowa, we’ve summarized the Iowa CPA exam requirements so that you’ll know the exact steps to become a licensed CPA in Hawkeye State.

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Summary of Iowa CPA Requirements

Credit hours to sit for the CPA exam120
Bachelor’s required to sit for the CPA examYes
Credit hours in accounting subjects to sit for the CPA exam24
Credit hours in business subjects to sit for the CPA exam24
Total credit hours to receive a CPA license150
Work experience required to receive a CPA license1 Year
Ethics exam required to get a CPA licenseYes

Residency Requirement

As for the State of Iowa, residency requirements and a minimum age have been eliminated to take the CPA exam. However, you must obtain a Social Security number to secure a CPA license but not necessarily to take the CPA exam or receive a CPA certificate. Due to the computerized examination, CPA candidates from a different states can be eligible to take a CPA exam in Iowa.

Minimum Education for Iowa CPA Exam Requirements

Please familiarize yourself with the Iowa CPA educational requirements before applying for the Uniform CPA Examination through CPA Examination Services (CPAES) to see if you are eligible to apply as a first-time candidate.

To become a licensed CPA in Iowa, there are certain credentials and educational requirements to meet the CPA exam requirements. All potential candidates are required to have the minimum educational requirement of a bachelor’s degree with 150 semester hours in accounting from a regionally accredited college or an accredited institution recognized by the Iowa board.

Comply with Iowa’s CPA degree and coursework requirements and complete the state’s educational requirements for a bachelor’s or higher degree, which will actually give you a total of 150 semester hours of credit in the following areas:

  • A graduate degree with a concentration in accounting from a program approved by a board-recognized accrediting agency.
  • A graduate degree in business from a program approved by a board-recognized accrediting agency with 24 semester hours in accounting that includes:
    • Auditing
    • Financial Accounting
    • Management Accounting
    • Taxation
  • A bachelor’s degree in business or accounting from a program approved by a board-recognized accrediting agency with:
    • 24 semester hours of accounting that includes:
      • Auditing
      • Financial Accounting
      • Management Accounting
      • Taxation
    • 24 semester hours in business-related courses that includes:
      • Business Law
      • Finance
      • Marketing
      • Management
      • Economics

If you earned your degree in another country, your academic qualifications must be examined by Foreign Academic Credential Services, Inc. (FACS) or NASBA International Evaluation Services to determine your eligibility to take the Uniform CPA exam.

Please be reminded of the following:

  • Correspondence, online, CLEP, and CPA review courses count for credit with the Board if you get credit for them at an accredited college or university.
  • Commercial CPA review courses do not contribute toward Board credit.
  • Courses taken at a community college or a two-year institution count for credit with the Board.
  • Developmental and/or remedial courses do not count for credit with the Board.
  • Internships and life experience may be included toward the total requirement of 150 hours.

Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination

The Uniform CPA Examination, developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), is the second component of the “Three Es”—education, examination, and experience—required for a CPA license in all 55 jurisdictions.

You are now ready to proceed with the CPA examination process after completing the Iowa Accountancy Examining Board’s educational requirements for the Iowa CPA exam.

CPA examination and licensure applicants who completed their education outside of the United States will be evaluated by NASBA International Evaluation Services, which provides evaluation services, according to the Iowa Society of CPAs.

In addition to being well-prepared on the important subject matter, the AICPA recommended that every CPA exam applicant spend time becoming acquainted with the exam procedure. The AICPA website provides monographs on the scope of exam topics in “Content Specification Outlines” (CSOs) and practical concerns connected to the complete exam process in the “Candidate Bulletin.”

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to take the exam, each applicant must complete the required amount of semester hours in certain accounting, law, ethics, and business courses as established by their state board of accountancy. In general, this entails completing the 150 semester hours stated in the Uniform Accountancy Act as required for licensing.

Some jurisdictions allow exam applicants to sit for the exam after finishing the 120 semester hours generally associated with a bachelor’s degree, with stipulations requiring completion of the additional 30 hours within a time range stipulated by the relevant state board.

NASBA Advisory Evaluation Service

Before submitting a first-time application for the Exam, an Advisory Evaluation will detect any academic deficiencies in your education. If you want to apply for an Advisory Evaluation or take the Exam in a jurisdiction serviced by NASBA’s CPA Examination Services (CPAES), you can do so online at CPA Central. If you are interested in sitting in one of the other jurisdictions, please contact the Board of Accountancy directly.

You can pay your registration fee online using a credit card. When you first use CPA Central online application tool to apply for the CPA Examination, you will be required to create a user account.

If you previously applied for the CPA Examination using a method other than the online application tool (by paper application or another manner), you will need to import your previous application information. To do so, you will need to know the jurisdiction in which you took the exam for the first time as a first-time candidate, as well as your Jurisdiction ID Number.

By creating a user account, you will be able to apply for the exam, keep your current information up to date, monitor your results, check your application status, and reprint your Notice(s) To Schedule.

Submission of Transcript

You must present an original college transcript from your previous school or institution attended.

  • Credit for courses completed at institutions outside the United States must be transferred to an eligible bachelor’s degree-granting institution within the United States.

On the official transcript, the degree must be noted, and make sure that the transcript is official and sealed before you submit it. The transcript can be submitted directly to the institution or via electronic to etranscript@nasba.org.

Iowa CPA Examination Components

The CPA exam consists of the three core sections and candidates would need to select one of the three discipline to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge, allowing candidates to choose a specialization. There is no set order in which the exam portions must be completed. The components of the CPA test are as follows:

  • Auditing and Attestation. This exam section covers the basics of financial and attest services, such as audits, reviews, compilations, and preparing agreements.
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting. This exam section covers financial accounting topics for all business entities, including the government and nonprofits.
  • Regulation. This exam section covers federal taxation, tax services, professional ethics, and business law for individuals and business entities.
  • Disciplines
    • Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR): Focused on financial reporting, data analytics, and performance management. This area is suitable for those who are interested in financial analysis and reporting. An extension of FAR core.
    • Information Systems and Controls (ISC): Concentrates on IT governance, data security, and system controls. Ideal for individuals who wish to specialize in IT audits and information security. An extension of AUD core.
    • Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP): Centers on personal financial planning and tax compliance for individuals, businesses, and other entities. Suitable for those with a strong interest in taxation and financial planning. An extension of REG core.

You may take the required test sections in any order, but you must pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination within an 18-month period beginning on the date the first examination section completed was taken. All components must be passed within the 18-month term. Any exam taken outside of the 18-month timeframe will result in a loss of credit.

Iowa CPA Exam Cost Breakdown

The Iowa CPA exam cost consists of four main fees: an education evaluation application fee of $90, the $354.80 per CPA exam section totaling $1,419.20 for all four sections, a $100 fee on the initial CPA registration and the annual registration and renewal fee of $100.

Education Evaluation Application Fee$90.00
Auditing and Attestation (AUD)$354.80
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)$354.80
Regulation (REG)$354.80
Disciplines (ISC, TCP, or BAR)$354.80
Total for all 4 CPA Exam Sections$1,419.20
Initial CPA Registration Fee$100.00
Annual Registration and Renewal of Active CPA License Fee$100.00

Completed applications, fees, and all supporting documentation should be mailed to:

  • Iowa CPA Examination Services Coordinator
    Postal Address: P.O. Box 198469
    37219-8469 Nashville, TN

Notice to Schedule (NTS)

When your application is approved, NASBA will send you a notification to schedule (NTS) the exam. The NTS is delivered to you via your preferred form of delivery (mail, fax, or email) and is valid for one testing session or six months, whichever comes first. When you receive your NTS, you will be emailed instructions for scheduling your test time, and you will be able to call Prometric to schedule your examination.

To schedule your exam in an Iowa testing location, go to Prometric’s website. Testing locations are as follows:

  • Bettendorf
  • Coralville
  • West Des Moines
  • Sioux City

Prepare for testing and be on time at the exam place on the scheduled date. Wait for the results. You must pass all four components of the Uniform CPA Exam with a score of 75 percent or higher. Your score is reported to the Iowa State Board of Accountancy by NASBA. You can see your score online or wait for it to be mailed to you.

Iowa CPA Ethics Exam Requirements

To meet the Iowa CPA ethics exam requirements, candidates have to complete the AICPA ethics exam and pass with a score of 90% or higher. The course is Professional Ethics: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Comprehensive Course (For Licensure) and is found on AICPA’s website.

Iowa CPA Experience Requirements

To meet the Iowa CPA experience requirements, candidates are required 2,000 hours or 12 months of experience in practical accounting, attestation, management, advisory, financial, tax, or consulting services of any kind. If you have academic experience, you must have taught a minimum of 24 semester hours of accounting courses in higher education.

Obtain documented competent work experience. Such work experience must be earned while working under the direct supervision of a registered CPA in the practice of public or private accounting, academia, or governmental accounting. You must have the following employment experience:

  • A minimum of 12 months (doesn’t have to be consecutive), either part-time or full-time.
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours of practical accounting experience as indicated below is required.
  • A licensed CPA has verified this information.
  • Accounting, attestation, management, advisory, financial, tax, or consulting services of any kind are available.
  • If you have academic experience, you must have taught a minimum of 24 semester hours of accounting courses in higher education.
  • To perform attestation, you must have two years of qualifying experience (one year of attestation and one year of general accounting experience).

The following competencies must be practiced during your experience:

  • Financial statement compilation and evaluation.
  • Understanding of management advisory functions.
  • Taxation, budgeting, cost analysis, and asset management are all examples of administrative tasks.
  • Financial statements and budgets must be prepared.
  • Recognizing accounting information systems.
  • Standardization and forecasting of norms and processes.

Your experience must be qualified by your validating CPA in the following ways:

  • Completing the Verification of Experience (available within the application for CPA licensing) to confirm the applicant’s relevant work experience.
  • If you want to attest qualification based on your experience, fill out the Attest Qualification form.
  • Acquire adequate knowledge through proper ways to comprehend the CPA. candidate’s responsibilities and to confirm that the candidate has attained the Iowa Accounting Examining Board’s declared abilities.

Set aside the completed Verification of Experience and Attest Qualification form, since these must be presented with your CPA licensing application.

Iowa CPA Certificate Requirements

After passing the exam, you are now eligible to get a CPA certificate. Visit https://plb.iowa.gov/my-iowa-plb to sign up for the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau online system. Then, fill up and submit the initial CPA application. Within an 18-month period, you must pass all four components of the CPA Examination in Iowa.

Passing an examination addressing the code of ethical behavior is one of the Iowa requirements for getting a CPA certificate. Transcript(s) of at least 150 semester hours must be submitted and the following experience is required:

  • Experience must include providing any form of service or advise that requires the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting abilities. Employment in government, industry, academia, or public practice can provide you with valuable experience.
  • One year of experience shall consist of full-time or part-time employment that lasts no less than one year and no more than three years and involves no fewer than 2,000 hours of performance of the services indicated in subrule.
  • Experience can be earned through working in more than one job setting, including an internship.
  • All experience must be validated by a licensee who has direct supervisory authority over the application or by a licensee who can verify the applicant’s experience.
  • Teaching experience must be gained while employed by a higher education institution and must entail teaching a minimum of 24 semester hours of courses in accounting for which course participants get credit on an official transcript. This provision does not apply to the teaching of noncredit continuing education courses.

Afterwards, you can finally apply for the CPA certificate.

Iowa CPA License Requirements

You are now eligible to apply for an Iowa CPA license. The following is a list of the essential procedures you should have taken in order to receive a license:

Steps to Pre-Licensure

  • All four units of the Uniform CPA Examination were passed.
  • The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Professional Conduct and Ethics course was satisfactorily completed.
  • Completed 150 semester (or 225 undergraduate quarter) hours of coursework with an accounting and business focus, and a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • 12 months of competent accounting experience (or 2,000 hours)
  • Have your confirming CPA sign your completed Verification of Experience and Attest Qualification paperwork (if applicable).

Apply for a CPA license in Iowa.

  • Visit Iowa PLB and create an account to get started. All application materials must be submitted electronically.
  • Include necessary documents such as transcripts, your verifying CPA’s signed Verification of Experience and Attest Qualification forms (if required), etc.
  • Prepare your application fee payable to the Iowa Accountancy Examining Board ($100 for the initial registration fee, plus an additional $100 if applying for attest privileges).
  • Applications are reviewed by the board and will be approved if there are no questions or concerns. It will typically require 2-3 weeks to process the application.

Special Cases for Obtaining Your CPA License

  • If you are an out-of-state candidate
    • When applying for an Iowa state CPA license, you must meet the same Iowa education and exam eligibility standards as an initial applicant
  • If you are a licensed CPA in another state
    • you can apply for an Iowa CPA license through reciprocity.

A person who holds a certificate or license to practice as a CPA in another state or a substantially equivalent designation from a foreign jurisdiction may apply to the board for an Iowa CPA certificate and must do so if the person plans to establish the person’s principal place of business as a CPA in Iowa.

Continuing Professional Education Requirements

As an Iowa licensed CPA, you must comply with the state’s continuing professional education (CPE) requirements to keep your license current and eligible for renewal when it expires. Applicants must satisfy the following CPE criteria to maintain a certified public accountant license in Iowa:

  • There is no CPE requirement on or before December 31st of the first year that permit holders get their CPE license.
  • In the second year, 40 CPE hours must be completed by December 31st of the permit holder’s second CPE reporting period.
  • In the third year, 80 CPE hours must be completed in the two-year period ending December 31 prior to the renewal date of July 1.

Non-technical disciplines may not receive more than 24 CPE hours every three years, including (but not limited to):

  • Communications
  • Leadership/personal development
  • Marketing
  • Practice development
  • Public/client relations
  • Motivational and behavioral
  • Memory building/speed reading

Every three years, four CPE hours must be spent on ethics and professional behavior. The remainder of your CPE hours must be in technical accounting courses such as (but not limited to):

  • Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Assurance
  • Consulting
  • Specialized applications/knowledge
  • Taxation
  • Management


After becoming a CPA in Iowa, there are several professional organizations you may be interested in joining. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) will connect you with professional development opportunities and provide you with the educational resources to embark on your new career. There are other CPA associations within Iowa that you may want to join as well, such as the Iowa Society of Certified Public Accountants. Good luck on your CPA journey and I hope that this article gave you all the information that you will need.

Iowa CPA Exam F.A.Q.s

Here are some commonly asked questions regarding Iowa ’s CPA exam and CPA licensure requirements.

What Are the Requirements to Sit for the CPA Exam in Iowa?

To sit for the CPA exam in Iowa, you must meet be of good moral character, at least have a bachelor’s degree with 24 semester hours in accounting and at least one hour in financial accounting, auditing, taxation, and management accounting – excluding elementary or principles level courses. 24 semester hours in business-related courses, such as finance, management, marketing, economics, and business law.

How Long Does it Take to Become a CPA in Iowa?

You will need to attain the full 150 semester hours required nationwide. This is roughly five years of education, then one year to take and pass the CPA exam, and then one year to meet the experience requirement. That makes a total of 6-7 years to get your CPA license. Once you have met all the requirements and have submitted your application to receive your CPA license from the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau, if approved you will receive your license in the mail within 3-4 weeks.

How Much Does It Cost to Take the CPA Exam in Iowa?

The total cost of the CPA exam for an aspiring CPA in Iowa is $1,509.20, this is considering that you pass all exams on the first try. The breakdown of the cost is $90 for the education evaluation application fee and the $1,419.20 exam fee for all four sections of the exam ($354.80 per section).

How Many CPAs are in Iowa?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as per the May 2021 data, there are currently around 10,970 accountants in Iowa with an annual salary of $72,350.

Do CPA Scores Expire in Iowa?

Regardless of the state, once a CPA candidate passes their first CPA exam section, they then have 18 months to pass the remaining three CPA exam sections to complete the Uniform CPA Examination. Once a CPA candidate has passed the Uniform CPA Examination, their scores never expire in Iowa.

How Many Accounting Credits Do You Need to Sit for the CPA License in Iowa?

You must complete at least 30 semester credit hours in accounting that include Managerial Accounting, Financial Accounting, Taxation, and Audit. 24 semester credit hours in business that include 2 semester credit hours in Business Communication and 3 semester credit hours in Business Ethics.

Does Iowa Require an Ethics Exam for the CPA?

Yes, the Iowa State Board requires all candidates applying for the CPA license must complete at least 8 hours in length the AICPA ethics examination or its equivalent. With a minimum score of 90% to pass the test.

You can get the AICPA Ethics Exam through the Iowa Society of CPAs here.

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