CPA Licensing Requirements in California

For Candidates in California who have Passed the Uniform CPA Exam

Experience Requirement
Applicants for a CPA license are required to provide documentation of having completed a minimum of 12 months full-time general accounting experience.

Education Experience
A baccalaureate degree at minimum with at least 150 semester hours of college credits to include:

  • 20 semester hours credit in accounting courses (in addition to the 24 required to sit for the CPA exam)
  • 10 semester hours credit in business ethics courses such as Professional Responsibilities, Legal Environment of Business or Social Responsibilities in Business. This is in addition to the 24 business credits needed to take the CPA exam.

A Master’s degree in accounting or taxation automatically fulfills the education requirement in California.

Ethics Exam Requirement
CPA license applicants in California must successfully complete the Professional Ethics (PETH) Examination administered by the Professional CBA Educational Foundation. The test is both taken and scored online. The topics covered include:

  • Ethics for Business
  • Concepts & Philosophy of Professional Conduct
  • Code of Professional Conduct
  • Independence, Integrity and Objectivity
  • Commissions and Fees
  • Form of Practice and Name
  • Advertisement & Solicitation
  • Sanctions
  • Tax Services
  • Accounting Act & CBA Regulations

Additional Requirements

  • Valid social security number
  • Live-scan fingerprinting (California residents)
  • Hard-copy fingerprinting (out-of-state residents)
  • Submission of a Criminal Convictions Disclosure Form

Licensing Fee Requirements
There is a $250 license application fee as well as a $49 fee for hard-copy fingerprinting (out-of-state residents only).

CPA Continuing Professional Education Requirements
California CPA licenses must be renewed every two years, at which time proof must be shown for the completion of 80 hours of professional education courses.

It is recommended that 20 hour of education be fulfilled within each six-month period.