Degree Requirements for Accountants in California

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    Education Requirements

    • A minimum of a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in accounting is needed to qualify for the accounting license. The California board requires applicants for a license complete a minimum of 24 semester units in accounting and 24 units in business courses to meet the state requirements. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some states require certified public accountant applicants to complete 150 semester hours to qualify for the accounting examination. California does not require applicants meet the 150-hour requirement, as of 2011, but candidates should review the information with the state agency before filing an application. Candidates must meet the education requirements to qualify to sit for the accounting examination.


    • California requires applicants to complete two years of experience in the accounting field under the supervision of a licensed certified public accountant to qualify for the license. Accounting experience provides the license applicant with on-the-job training in the field.

    Uniform CPA Examination

    • The California Board of Accountancy requires candidates for a certified public accountant license pass the Uniform CPA Examination to meet licensure requirements. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers the examination to candidates in four parts. Applicants for a state license may complete each part of the examination on separate test dates. Only candidates who meet the degree requirements for the state qualify to take the examination.

    Ethics Course

    • The state of California requires all prospective certified public accountants complete and pass an ethics examination to obtain a license. The examination has 50 multiple-choice questions that test the applicant’s knowledge of the California Accountancy Act and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Code of Professional Conduct.

    Continuing Education and Renewal

    • The certified public accounting license is valid for two years. Applicants must complete a minimum of 80 hours of continuing education, with a minimum of 20 hours in each year during the renewal period. The applicant must complete four hours of ethics education during the two-year renewal period. A minimum of 12 hours of continuing education must be in a technical area of accounting, as of 2012. Accountants must also complete a review course on the regulations for accountants in the state every six years to maintain licensure in California.

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