Rhode Island CPA Exam & License Requirements 2017

Keep reading to learn how to become a CPA in Rhode Island.

Rhode IslandAccountants have been a vital part of civilization since its inception over 7,000 years ago. As notions of money and commerce, even taxation, grew, so did the demand for accountants. Without a means by which to monitor inventories, costs and profits, much of civilization would not have evolved as it has. That evolution continues through modern accountants who still are needed to keep corporations efficient and individuals wealthy. If you are embarking on a career in accountancy, be aware that individual states have their own requirements for a Certified Public Accountant’s license. Keep reading to learn how to become a CPA in Rhode Island.

General Requirements

Like most states, Rhode Island has requirements for CPAs, including education, the CPA exam, ethics and experience. The state also requires that you be an in-state resident and have a Social Security number. There is no requirement for U.S. citizenship nor for age. To satisfy the residency requirement, you can either have a full-time home in the state, own a business there or work full-time for a Rhode Island business. For the education requirement, you will need a minimum of 150 semester hours for your license, but once you complete 120 hours and a bachelor’s degree you can sit for the CPA exam.

Academic Standards

The most time-consuming and strenuous part of your path to becoming a CPA is likely to be your education. Though Rhode Island’s 150 semester hour qualification is fairly standard for a CPA, each state has individual standards. The Ocean State is no different in that regard. In fact, Rhode Island has three academic routes for CPA candidates to select from:

Route 1: Matriculate with a master’s degree in accounting

Route 2: Graduate degree with 15 post-grad hours of accounting or 24 undergraduate hours in accounting. Your transcripts must reflect the following courses:

  • Six hours – Fundamental Accounting
  • Six hours – Intermediate Financial Accounting & Reporting
  • Three hours – Taxation
  • Three hours – Auditing
  • Three hours – Advanced Financial Accounting & Reporting

Route 3: Baccalaureate degree with 24 hours in either undergraduate or graduate accounting or 24 hours’ worth of business-related courses, either at the graduate or undergraduate level. Your transcripts must reflect the following courses:

  • Six hours – Fundamental Accounting
  • Six hours – Intermediate Financial Accounting & Reporting
  • Three hours – Taxation
  • Three hours – Auditing
  • Three hours – Advanced Financial Accounting & Reporting
  • Three hours – Economics
  • Three hours – Business Law

The following applies to all of these options:

  • All coursework must be complete. Transcripts listing in progress coursework will not be accepted.
  • College Level Examination Programs, community college and online courses are acceptable if they have transferred to a 4-year institution.
  • CPA review courses are accepted if they are credited by an accredited college.
  • Commercial CPA courses are not acceptable.

CPA Examination

Once you have satisfied the Board’s requirement for academic achievement, you can submit your official sealed transcripts to CPA Examination Services, a part of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA.) Include an application for the CPA exam and mail the packet to

CPA Examination Services,
Rhode Island Coordinator
P.O. Box 198469, Nashville, TN 37219-8469

Once your application is reviewed and accepted, you will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) whereupon you can contact a Prometric site near you to sit for the exam. Note that you only have six months from the time of the NTS to sit for, and pass, at least one portion of the 4-part exam. There are Prometric centers in Warwick and Cumberland, RI.

The test itself has been created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA.) The items are, in part, designed by practicing CPAs to reflect contemporary problems in accountancy. The test is very difficult. In fact, up to half of all takers must sit for all or part of the test again. Find fellow test takers to study with or seek out a review course online or in your town. The four parts of the test you must pass are:

  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)–This part covers financial reporting frameworks from several industry experts. Candidates are asked to compare statements that reflect different reporting standards.
  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)–This section tests your knowledge of the International Standards of Auditing as well as U.S. standards.
  • Regulation (REG)–The ethics section, your professional and legal responsibilities are covered in this test.
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)–This portion covers general business concepts and international business. Written communication skills are vital to complete much of the test.

Rhode Island requires another test from the AICPA, the Ethics Examination. You will order a CD-ROM from the AICPA that includes an 11-hour self-study course as well as review questions. The test itself is short and open-book. It is not considered to be very difficult, but you must pass with a score of 90 or better.

Experience

The final hurdle to your initial CPA license is the experience portion. To satisfy the Rhode Island Board of Accountancy, you will need one year’s worth of paid experience–approximately 1,820 hours. Your work must be under the supervision of a licensed CPA and you will need to document your experience and show competency in the field. The state has detailed requirements for each of these general experience types:

  • Academic
  • Governmental
  • Public Accountancy
  • Industry

Once you have your CPA license, you are bound to have a rewarding career. To make sure you stay up-to-date with current state regulations, including continuing education requirements, visit the Board’s website: Rhode Island Board of Accountancy.

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