CPA Licensure Experience Requirements

Certificate of Attest Experience Form Certificate of General Experience Form

What accounting experience do you need?

In California, applicants for certified public accountant licensure must complete a minimum of one year of general accounting experience. The experience may include providing any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, or consulting skills.

How can you obtain accounting experience?

You may gain accounting experience through employment in public or nonpublic accounting, such as private industry or government, and the work experience must: If you obtain experience in nonpublic accounting, the experience must be completed under the supervision of a CPA licensed in the United States.

You may also gain experience by teaching an accounting subjects course at an accredited college or university.

A total of 48 semester units of instruction is equivalent to one year of general accounting experience.

What do you need to know if you have passed the exam, but are not licensed?

If you have passed the Uniform CPA Exam in California, have never been licensed as a certified public accountant (CPA), and plan to apply for licensure as a CPA in California, keep the following in mind:

As a Supervisor

To sign an experience form for a CPA licensure applicant, you must have a current, active, and unrestricted license during the applicant’s period of supervision.

Supervised experience means that you have reviewed and evaluated the applicant’s qualifying work on a routine and recurring basis and have authority and oversight over the applicant. (You do not need to be the direct supervisor.)

The requirement for you to opine on an applicant’s understanding of applicable professional standards is a significant difference between the attest experience requirement and the accounting experience requirement (where no such opinion on understanding is offered).

As a supervisor, you are required to provide additional information about an applicant’s experience upon request from the California Board of Accountancy (CBA). If you are a licensee who has been hired to provide public accounting services to the applicant’s firm, you may not also supervise the applicant’s work experience.

Additional Information

If you apply with general accounting experience, you will be licensed without the authority to sign reports on attest engagements. With this type of licensure, you can perform a wide range of accounting services, but you are not authorized to sign reports on attest engagements. If you are seeking the authority to sign reports on attest engagements, in addition to completing the minimum one year of general experience, you must also complete a minimum of 500 hours of experience, satisfactory to CBA, in attest services. CBA defines attest engagements to include an audit, a review of financial statements, or an examination of prospective financial information. This does not include the issuance of compiled financial statements.

At the CBA’s discretion, you, your supervisor, or both may be required to appear before the CBA’s Qualifications Committee to substantiate satisfactory completion of the accounting experience requirement. Additional information can be found in the California Code of Regulations, title 16, sections 12, 12.1, 12.5, and 69.

Submitting the Certificate of Experience

The certificate of experience may be digitally signed and submitted when applying for a CPA license online, emailed to by the supervisor or the applicant, or mailed to the CBA. Passage of the Uniform CPA Exam is not required for submission.

You can find the experience forms by clicking “I Am a CPA Licensure Applicant” under the “Applicants” tab on the CBA website: