Montana CPA Exam & License Requirements 2017
The practice of accountancy dates as far back as the science of mathematics.
Early farmers and merchants needed to devise standards to describe weights, measures and costs. As farming developed, the need to project crop yields versus acreage was met with ever more complex math and accounting. That such an ancient practice developed into a field that has become essential for all modes of business and finance is rather amazing and you can be a part of it with the proper training. Even more exciting, you can achieve the very top certification, the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, through your state’s Accountancy Board. Each state has particular rules governing its license. What follows is how to become a CPA in Montana.
The general guidelines for Montana mirror many other states. You must satisfy requirements for academics, ethics, experience and you need to pass the very difficult CPA examination. For Montana, you do not need to be a state resident, a U.S. citizen and you don’t even need to have a Social Security number. It may be advisable to have some form of taxpayer identification, however, as you will need work experience to satisfy the Montana Board of Public Accountants. To sit for the CPA exam, you need 120 hours of semester work, but to complete your application for the license, you will need 150 hours. To round out your application, the board needs you to pass an Ethics exam besides gaining meaningful work experience.
To pass the board’s academic standards for taking the CPA exam, you will need 120 hours of undergraduate semester credits, inclusive of a bachelor’s degree. When you begin work on your degree, make sure that all of your credits are coming from a regionally accredited college or university. The board recognizes the following regional accrediting agencies:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
- Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Schools and Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Work with your advisor and ensure that you stay on track to complete the necessary coursework. Montana needs to see 24 hours of accounting credits in upper level undergraduate or graduate courses that cover the following subjects:
- Financial Accounting
- Managerial/Cost Accounting
You will also need 24 hours of business-related courses such as these:
- Information Systems
- Business Law
- Business Communication
- Organizational Psychology
- Micro or Macro Economics
Since you will need 150 hours to satisfy the board, you might consider getting a master’s degree in accounting, or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) that allows for adequate focus on accounting. These days, the job market heavily favors those with advanced degrees and when you combine a master’s-level degree with the CPA credential, you could find yourself in a highly desirable hiring position by prospective employers.
When you have completed the academic portion of the process, have your transcripts sent to CPA Examination Services, which is a part of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). They will assess your coursework and determine if you can sit for the exam. Make sure that you send them official, sealed transcripts from every institution you attended, even if it was only for one course. The CPAES address is as follows:
CPA Examination Services – MT
P.O. Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219
When they approve your submitted coursework and transcripts they will send a Notice to Schedule. From that point, you have six months to schedule and sit for at least one of the four parts of the CPA Examination. If you do not take and pass one of the exam parts within that window, you will need to apply again and re-submit the fee payment.
The test itself is very difficult and very often applicants need to retake one or more parts. Try to prepare as well as possible. The four parts must be passed with a minimum score of 75 and cover the following areas:
- Financial Accounting and Reporting–This section covers financial reporting frameworks from several industry experts. Candidates are asked to compare statements that reflect different reporting standards.
- Auditing and Attestation–This test proves your knowledge of the International Standards of Auditing as well as U.S. standards.
- Regulation–Ethics and professional and legal responsibilities are the subject of this test.
- Business Environment and Concepts–This portion covers general business concepts and international business. Written communication skills are vital to passing this section of the exam.
Once you pass the CPA exam, you will need to then pass the AICPA’s Ethics exam. You can order their 11-hour self-study course. It will arrive on a CD-ROM that includes the course materials and practice questions, too. The exam itself is open book and is not considered terribly difficult, but you must pass with a minimum score of 90.
Finally, you can work on fulfilling the experience portion of the application process. The state asks for a minimum 2,000 hours of work experience. You must be supervised by a CPA licensed in the United States.
To learn more about achieving your CPA license in Montana, please visit the state board’s website: Montana Board of Public Accountants.
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