What do I need to know about CPA license renewal?

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You’ve earned your CPA license! Congratulations! But once you’ve obtained your CPA license, the hard work isn’t over. Your license will eventually expire, and you’ll need a CPA license renewal to maintain it. The requirements for CPA license renewal and the timeline for expiration are dependent upon your state’s board of accountancy. 

In this guide, we’ll briefly go through the requirements to earn your CPA license and explain the CPA renewal requirements, including some guidelines and tips about what you need to do for CPA renewal. 

What are the basic requirements to maintain a CPA license?

Who issues a CPA license, and what are the basic CPA license renewal requirements for earning one? Each state’s board of accountancy is responsible for granting CPA licenses. 

Each of the 55 license-granting jurisdictions (the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Mariana Islands) maintains its own CPA license renewal requirements. You’ll need to meet your jurisdiction’s requirements for taking the CPA Exam and ultimately earning CPA licensure. Be sure to look up your jurisdiction’s specific requirements as you begin planning to fulfill them.

All jurisdictions require that you pass the CPA Exam with a minimum score of 75. Other CPA license renewal requirements can generally be grouped into three categories: education, experience and ethics. Sometimes, states will also implement age or residency requirements. For certain states, the minimum age to earn a CPA license is 18, 19 or 21 - although, some states don’t have a minimum age requirement at all. 

Why do CPAs need their licenses renewed?

You may be wondering, does your CPA expire? The answer is yes! CPA license renewals are incredibly important. Here’s why.

Businesses and individuals hire licensed CPAs because they need assurance that their finances are being handled by a trustworthy person. They need to know that they are working with someone who will help them stay in compliance with all regulations and who will use the correct processes to manage their money. 

But regulations and processes change. To maintain a high level of trust between CPAs and their clients, and ensure that CPAs have up-to-date skills and education, every jurisdiction requires each CPA to renew their expired CPA license and complete a designated number of continuing professional education (CPE) courses. In short, CPA renewal ensures that practicing public accountants are educated on the most recent best practices and regulations. 

What are the requirements for CPA license renewal?

Your next question might be, how long does a CPA license last? As with the initial CPA license requirements, CPA license renewal requirements vary by jurisdiction. Most states require renewal every one to two years. When you apply to renew your license, you’ll typically need to pay a renewal fee (around $50-150 for most states) and provide proof that you’ve completed about 40 hours of CPE per year.

Some states have more detailed CPE requirements. For example, the California CPA license renewal process requires you to complete at least 80 hours of CPE every two years—a specified number of these hours must include certain courses depending on your accounting specialty. In addition to taking CPE, California requires licensed CPAs to pay a $120 biennial license renewal fee.

How can I keep my CPA license up-to-date?

Maintaining your CPA license requires a lot of planning and work. Mark your calendar with all appropriate CPA license renewal dates and create a detailed plan to ensure you fulfill all requirements before those dates.

Above all, don’t wait until the last minute to complete your CPE. Take your CPE courses throughout the year and work with an educational partner like Becker to help you learn and retain knowledge. Becker’s CPE courses are taught by industry experts from the public and private accounting, consulting and education sectors, and help to expand your expertise that you can apply to your everyday work as a CPA. Additionally, our Prime CPE package comes with a compliance tracker that helps you track your earned CPE credits, so you’ll know exactly when you’ve met your jurisdiction’s requirements.

Earn your CPA license—and keep it

Becker provides everything you need to become a successful CPA. Our exam prep resources can help you get ready for the CPA Exam. In 2020, Becker Exam Day Ready students reported that they passed 94% of the CPA Exam sections they attempted. And our CPE courses keep you up-to-date with a constantly growing catalog of trending CPA and other accounting topics—written and taught by industry veterans—and flexible learning formats that fit your lifestyle and preferred way to learn.

Trust Becker with your CPA license needs—now and for years to come.
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CPA license renewal FAQs

Who issues my CPA license? 

CPA licenses are issued by your state’s board of accountancy. 

Does your CPA expire? 

Yes, your CPA license does expire and needs to be renewed. 

How often do you need to renew a CPA license? 

The frequency in which you need to renew your CPA license depends on your board of accountancy. For example, California’s CPA licenses are in good standing for two years. Alabama CPA licenses need to be renewed each year.

Guidance on CPA license renewal

Firstly, check with your state for their specific CPA license renewal requirements, because these requirements vary by jurisdiction. At a minimum, all states require a specific number of CPE credits for CPA license renewal, but some states also require that you pay fees, take CPE courses in certain subjects, and fill out a CPA license renewal application.

What's the best way to meet my CPA renewal requirements? 

The best way to earn your CPA renewal is with Becker CPE courses. Our courses are a convenient way to earn the credits you need for CPA renewal and stay up to date with accounting best practices. 

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