Texas CPA Exam Requirements: 3 Critical Steps

texas cpa exam requirements

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If you’re wondering what the Texas CPA exam requirements are to become a licensed CPA in Texas, we’ve summarized what you’ll need in this article. There are three main requirements to become a CPA in Texas: the education requirements, passing the Uniform CPA Examination, and the experience requirements. Understanding the education requirements, proper steps for becoming licensed, and how to maintain your license are key factors when it comes to becoming a CPA in Texas.

Texas CPA Education Requirements

Credit Requirements for Texas CPA License

Before you are even eligible to sit for the uniform CPA examination, you will need to complete the Texas CPA educational requirements as the first step. Like most states, the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy requires CPA candidates to take a minimum amount of credit hours at an accredited university.

One of the main Texas CPA exam requirements is that you must have 150 semester hours of college credits, including 30 semester hours of upper-level accounting courses, 24 semester hours of upper-level business courses, and 3 semester hours of ethics courses according to the Texas State Board of Accountancy.

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum degree required; however, many bachelor’s programs are only set up for 120 credit hours. So you can have a baccalaureate or graduate degree, as long as you have the required accounting credits and business credits. This is why it is important to analyze different college programs, selecting one that is designed for future CPAs.

Many CPA candidates that attend educational institutions that don’t have a CPA program choose to get a master’s degree to fulfill the credit requirements. CPA candidates frequently choose a master of accounting or master of tax graduate degree program.

Accepted Educational Institutions

The Texas Board of Public Accountancy recognizes six organizations as accredited, including:

  1. Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education
  2. Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  3. North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Learning Commission
  4. New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
  5. Southwestern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  6. Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities

Most large schools are accredited colleges, such as Texas A&M. However, community colleges, two-year colleges, and technical/vocational schools do not meet the criteria. All community colleges except Austin Community College, Houston Community College, Lone Star College, and Dallas College – Mountain View Campus do not qualify. To determine if your school is an accredited university, reach out to one of the staff members there.

Required Courses

Certain courses need to be taken to fulfill the education requirements to sit for the CPA exam. The Board rules on which accounting and business courses will count towards the required curriculum. Due to the specifications, a higher degree may need to be pursued. Completion of the following education requirements is among the list of recognized accounting classes including:

  • Intermediate and Advanced Accounting
  • Accounting Theory
  • Cost Accounting
  • Financial Statement Reporting and Analysis
  • Tax Research and Preparation
  • Financial Planning

Intro level courses, such as semesters of elementary accounting, are specifically excluded from the required course load. The Texas State Board of Accountancy has also released detailed information on the business courses that are approved. These include:

  • Business Environment (Law, Economics)
  • Computer Science
  • Information Systems
  • Marketing
  • Business Communication
  • Some Business Case Studies

If your business school doesn’t offer the required courses, you may need to look elsewhere for semester hours of college credit that count towards the accounting requirements or pursue a master’s degree.

Transfer Credits/Foreign Education

Texas CPA exam requirements do allow CPA candidates to transfer credits from out-of-state schools if the applicant met the education requirements in effect in that jurisdiction. Most undergraduate degree programs are similar across the United States, so minimal issues should arise.

In addition, foreign credits can be accepted, but the process does take longer, and more fees are applied when the University of Texas at Austin gets involved to evaluate the adequacy of the accounting courses. Moreover, candidates are able to transfer credits internationally from places like the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Take the Uniform CPA Exam in Texas

Applying for the CPA Exam

Once you meet the minimum CPA credit requirements, you can fill out an Application of Intent. The Application of Intent can be submitted at any time and expires after 2 years. This form is used to evaluate your past educational experience to ensure you are in compliance with the Texas Board of Accountancy.

If the two-year period lapses and you have not sat for the exam, you will need to fill out a new application. The fee for submitting an Application of Intent is currently $20. There is also a residency requirement to sit for the Texas CPA exam, so be sure you qualify before you submit your application. Common situations where an Application of Intent might be submitted include:

  1. You have completed the education requirements and want to be sure you are in compliance.
  2. You completed education outside of the United States and want to be sure you are in compliance.
  3. You have passed all sections or earned partial credits and want to transfer your CPA exam credits to Texas.

Texas Background Requirements for CPA Candidates

Another one of the Texas CPA exam requirements is a background check. The application of intent not only evaluates your education requirements but also looks at your background. There is a portion on the Application of Intent that requires you to disclose any federal or state charges brought against you.

The Texas Board of State Accountancy will utilize the Federal Bureau of Investigation database in conjunction with your fingerprints to analyze your criminal past. Any criminal charges will be investigated and may preclude you from applying and taking the Uniform Certified Public Accountant exam. Among the list of those required to submit fingerprints include:

  1. Those submitting an Application of Intent
  2. Those submitting an Application of Intent to transfer CPA exam credits
  3. Those submitting an Application for Issuance of the CPA certificate
  4. Those submitting a reciprocal application

The State of Texas is one of the few states that require CPA candidates to go through a thorough background check, including fingerprinting. If you do have reportable offenses, you will be subject to further investigation over the phone or in person and will need to complete additional steps.

Studying for the CPA Exam

There are four sections of the CPA exam that are taken individually. Each of the four sections of the exam covers different areas of the accounting profession. There is no specified order that the exam sections need to be taken. The four sections of the CPA exam include:

  • Auditing and Attestation. This exam section covers the basics of financial and attest services, such as audits, reviews, compilations, and preparation agreements.
  • Business Environment and Concepts. This exam section covers general business concepts, such as economics, business communications, and related business courses. 
  • 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.

Choose a CPA Review Course

Many CPA exam candidates choose to purchase a CPA review course to help them prepare for the content on the exams. Most of the time, the concepts on the exam were spread out over multiple different accounting courses, meaning you are unlikely to remember everything from your undergraduate degree. These courses can be costly, making it important to thoroughly evaluate each one, however, some of the popular CPA review courses are:

  • Becker CPA Review
  • Surgent CPA Review
  • Gleim CPA Review
  • UWorld Roger CPA Review
  • Wiley CPAexcel

These review courses mimic the content and layout of the exam through multiple choice questions and simulations, which is important to boost confidence and success going into each exam.

Signing Up for the CPA Exam

After you’ve selected the CPA exam you want to take, you will need to analyze how long you expect to study. An Eligibility Application must be completed prior to taking each section of the exam. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, referred to as NASBA, reviews your Eligibility Application and issues you a Notice to Schedule.

The application process involves submitting an application that includes the required $15 fee. You then have 90 days from the time your application is approved to schedule and pay the exam fee for the section you are taking. There is little to no leniency with the 90-day window so be sure you will be ready to take the section. The Board reviews the Eligibility Application within 1-2 business days, so expect a quick response.

After your Eligibility Application is approved, you will receive your Notice to Schedule to sign up for and pay the exam fees. The current fees for each section are $226.15. Once you pay the fees, there are no refunds or extensions. You will need to find your nearest Prometric testing center and find a date and time that works for you. You can reschedule your testing date, but it needs to be within the same 90-day period and an additional fee may be charged.

Taking the Uniform CPA Examination

On the day of the exam, you need to bring a few different pieces of identifying information with you. Items needed include your NTS, driver’s license, and another piece of information, such as a signed credit card. The name on your NTS must match your other documents, otherwise, you won’t be permitted to take the exam.

The specific requirements can be found on the Prometric website you are testing at; however, they all usually follow the same protocol. Once admitted into the testing center, you will be given a 4-hour time frame to complete the exam section. You are given breaks throughout the exam.

Texas CPA Exam Cost Breakdown

The Texas CPA exam cost consists of five main fees: an application of intent fee of $20, an eligibility application fee of $15 per section, the $226.15 per CPA exam section totaling $905 for all four sections, a $50 fee on the issuance of CPA certificate and lastly the annual renewal fee of $75.

Texas is a NASBA state, meaning CPA candidates apply for the CPA exams and receive their CPA exam scores from NASBA, so the CPA exam fees for Texas are as follows:

Application of Intent$20.00
Online Submission of the Eligibility Application (per section)$15.00
Auditing and Attestation (AUD)$226.15
Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)$226.15
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)$226.15
Regulation (REG)$226.15
Total for all 4 CPA Exam Sections$905.00
Issuance of CPA Certificate Fee$50.00
Annual Renewal Fee$75.00

Passing the CPA Exam

You will repeat this process until you have received a passing score of above 75 for each CPA exam section. All sections must be passed within an 18-month period, otherwise, exam scores start to expire. Additionally, you can only take the exam once during the testing window, which is usually 3 months, so proper planning is required to fit everything in. Moreover, if you feel like your score may be wrong, you can contest it with NASBA and pay a rescore fee.

Keep in mind that the likelihood of changing your CPA exam score is very low, so a rescore might not be in your best interest. Scores will be released online during designated dates. NASBA will also send out an email reminding you to check your scores.

Texas Work Experience Requirements

How to Meet Texas Work Experience Requirements

CPA candidates can successfully pass all 4 sections of the exam and still not earn their CPA certificate. This is because qualifying work experience in the field is required as well. Most undergraduate-level degrees require some form of work experience for successful completion of the program, which is why NASBA allows candidates full-time and part-time options to meet the Texas CPA experience requirements. One of the following requirements must be met:

  1. 12 months of full-time employment
  2. 2,000 hours of part-time employment with no more than 20 hours per week

When you choose the part-time option, documentation is required to be presented to the Board. Most CPA candidates choose to complete an internship or employment at an accounting firm because your supervisor must be a CPA. However, there are a wide variety of different positions in the business world that will satisfy the year of work experience, from a job in a private industry to public accounting firms. Those who have had years of work experience in internships and full-time jobs in the accounting world should have no problem meeting the work requirements.

Supervisor Requirements

The place you obtain your work experience needs to have a qualified supervisor that evaluates and confirms your work experience. To be a supervisor, one of the following conditions must be met:

  1. You and your supervisor are employed at the same place, and you report directly to them.
  2. You and your supervisor are employed at the same place, and you report directly to them, but you are located in a different city.
  3. You work at a company with no supervisor that holds a CPA license, but they bring in a CPA firm to evaluate and supervise your work. The CPA firm must be independent.

Additional documentation is required when you work in a different state or no CPA supervisor is present.

Submitting Work Experience

When you have obtained a year of experience, you must submit a Work Experience Form and two separate statements. The work experience form outlines when you obtained the applicable experience, the amount of time worked, and credit hours earned for the time period. In addition, you must describe the type of experience you had, such as the department worked in, and why your supervisor is qualified. This form can be submitted with the Application for Issuance and is required to be on file before your license is issued. 

Apply for Your Texas CPA License

Submit Your Application for Issuance

After you have completed your professional education, passed the exams, and retain the necessary work experience, you have fulfilled a majority of the CPA exam requirements. A member of the Texas Department of Public Safety will review all of the pertinent information, ensure a proper oath is on file, and be sure an ethics course and the ethics exam was properly taken. If any of the information is incomplete, you will be contacted on the next steps. The issuance of the CPA certificate costs $50.

Oath of Office

The oath of office is part of the state requirements for becoming a CPA and includes a statement that you will uphold the laws and regulations in Texas and the United States. This form is required to be notarized by a public official.

Texas CPA Ethics Exam Requirements

Texas CPA license requirements include taking an exam similar to the AICPA ethics exam. This Texas CPA Ethics Exam Requirement is an open book exam that requires a score of 85% or better to pass. Once you submit your Application for Issuance and attached a money order for the fee, this exam will be emailed to you. Concepts of professionalism and ethics are tested on this exam.

The exam is completed online with no set time limit. However, the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct is one of the final steps of the Texas CPA requirements so it’s best not to push it off. If you do not pass the exam on the first try, you must wait 2 days to retake it.

Receiving Your Texas CPA Certificate

After a member of the Texas Department of Public Safety reviews and verifies all necessary steps are complete, you will be registered as a CPA and assigned a CPA identification number. A congratulatory letter will also be sent in the mail. In addition, the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy will send you a wall certificate. These certificates are only produced twice a year because of the cost, resulting in a delay of up to 8 months depending on when you become licensed.

This certificate will be presented to you at the Swearing-In Ceremony or mailed to you if you do not attend. The Swearing-In Ceremony gives new CPAs a chance to be rewarded for their hard work and dedication. This ceremony is held twice a year and recognizes newly licensed CPAs and those who have been in the industry for decades.  

Texas Continuing Education Requirements

Continuing Education Requirements

After becoming a licensed CPA in Texas, you aren’t done with your license. Different requirements are implemented to maintain your license. One of which is completing mandatory continuing education course hours each 3-year period. The Texas Department of Public Safety requires licensed CPAs to complete 120 credit hours over a 3-year period. No more than 60 credit hours can be completed in non-technical areas. In addition, a minimum of 4 Texas-specific CPE ethics hours must be completed every 2 years. Due to the high credit amount, CPAs must complete at least 20 credit hours each year.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants frequently hosts CPE webinars and seminars, which is the most common way to earn CPE credits. You can either choose self-study courses or attend online events to earn your credits. One credit hour is roughly 50 minutes, meaning you will need to block off 3 ½ hours to earn 4 credits.

Annual CPA License Renewal in Texas

In addition to completing annual CPE courses, you are required to renew your license annually. This can be done online and must be renewed on the last day of your birth month. The current cost to renew your license is around $70 per year. The Board usually processes the renewal within a day; however, it is generally advised to renew earlier rather than later. If your CPA license expires, you may have to submit a reinstatement application and pay additional penalties.

If you move to Texas from another state that you are licensed in, the Affidavit for Reinstatement of Individual License form can be submitted within 90 days to have your credentials transferred over. You may be required to retake the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct exam.

Summary

Fully understanding how to become a CPA in the state of Texas can be an overwhelming process. However, the steps laid out here are a great starting point. Becoming a CPA in the state of Texas opens the door to many opportunities for personal and career growth. Despite the tedious application process and hours of studying, a career as a CPA should not be overlooked.  

Texas CPA Exam F.A.Q.s

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

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

To sit for the CPA exam in Texas, you must have 150 semester hours of college credits, including 30 semester hours of upper-level accounting courses, 24 semester hours of upper-level business courses, and 3 semester hours of ethics courses according to the Texas State Board of Accountancy.

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

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 Texas State Board of Accountancy, 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 Texas?

The total cost of the CPA exam for an aspiring CPA in Texas is $924.60, this is considering that you pass all exams on the first try. The breakdown of the cost is $20 for the application fee, $904.60 exam fee for all four sections of the exam..

How Many CPAs are in Texas?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as per the May 2021 data, there are currently around 104,490 accountants in Texas with an annual salary of $85,860.

Do CPA Scores Expire in Texas?

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 Texas.

How Many Accounting Credits Do you Need to Sit for the CPA License in Texas?

You must complete at least 30 semester hours of upper-level accounting courses. 24 semester hours of upper-level related business courses. Within the coursework two-semester hours of accounting or business communications are required. Complete a 3-semester-hour board-approved ethics course.

Does Texas Require an Ethics Exam for the CPA?

No, the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy does not require an ethics exam to become a CPA but you are required to take a 3-semester-hour board-approved ethics course.

What Are the 4 Requirements to be a CPA in Texas?

To be a Certified Public Accountant in Texas, you must pass a background investigation, meet the work experience requirements, and pass the Uniform CPA Examination. After you have passed the CPA exam, an email will be sent to you for the Texas Board’s Rules of Professional Conduct which you must get at least a passing score of 85%. Other than those four requirements needed, you must also sign an Oath Of Office, complete a board-approved four-credit ethics course and the Application for Issuance of the CPA Certificate with the fee.

How Hard is the Texas CPA Exam?

The CPA Exam is one of the most challenging professional tests; many people consider it to be more difficult than the BAR exam, and it even outranks several medical board exams.

How Much Do Accountants Make in Texas Per Hour?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as per the May 2021 data, the average hourly wage of a CPA is $37.33 while the mean hourly wage is $41.28.

What is a CPA salary Texas?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as per the May 2021 data, the average annual salary of a CPA is $85,860.

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