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How to Become a CPA in Hawaii

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In the U.S., a certified public accountant (CPA) is licensed by the state where accountants choose to practice. Hawaii requires CPAs to demonstrate their knowledge, skill, and professionalism by fulfilling several educational, experiential, and procedural requirements before acquiring the prestigious credential associated with the CPA license.


Becoming a CPA in Hawaii can open up many opportunities for growth. This credential is a significant step to take because:

  • CPAs are in high demand.
  • They have a competitive salaries.
  • It offers career advancement.
  • It gives accountants credibility.
  • It gives professionals flexibility in their career.

Read through this article to discover how to become a CPA in Hawaii.

Here are the Steps to Become a CPA in Hawaii:

  1. Getting Your CPA Education in Hawaii.
  2. Taking the Uniform CPA Exam in Hawaii.
  3. Gaining the Needed Experience in Hawaii.
  4. Getting Your CPA License and Continuing Education in Hawaii.

To be certified as a CPA in Hawaii, candidates must pass the Uniform CPA Exam, provide evidence of proficiency in accounting, and complete their educational and accounting work experience requirements. The Hawaii Board of Public Accountancy issues CPA licenses to competent professionals who have demonstrated mastery in accounting and financial management.


To qualify for CPA licensure, the Hawaii Board of Public Accountancy requires candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college credit. To meet these demands, candidates must earn a regionally or nationally accredited bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in accounting or an equivalent approved degree. 

Since most bachelor’s degrees in accounting can be completed in 120 semester hours, most prospective certified public accountants pursue a Master’s in Accounting or enroll in a certificate program to earn the remaining 30 required semester hours. Candidates can choose between traditional on-campus programs, complete their coursework online, enroll in a hybrid program, or take specialized five-year CPA track programs. Candidates who are educated outside of the United States must have their credentials certified by an approved international evaluation service. Online and correspondence courses from accredited institutions will be approved if noted on the candidate’s transcript. Credits provided by commercial CPA review courses do not qualify for inclusion.


In Hawaii, the CPA degree and curriculum requirements for licensure include specific coursework in accounting and business. Twenty-four semester hours in accounting, including 18 junior, senior, or graduate-level semester hours in topics like: 

AuditingForensic Accounting
Accounting theoryTaxation
Financial reportingFinancial planning

Twenty-four semester hours of junior, senior, or graduate-level accounting or business courses, like: 

EconomicsMarketingBusiness law
Organizational behaviorFinanceBusiness communication skills
StatisticsQuantitative applications in businessBusiness ethics

The CPA Exam

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The Uniform CPA Exam is a rigorous four-part professional examination created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) that tests knowledge of the following areas of expertise:

Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

This portion of the exam tests a candidate’s knowledge of the financial reporting frameworks used in business and industry.

This section is broken down into the four areas:

State and local governmentsSelect financial statement accounts
Select transactionsFinancial reporting

The accounting and reporting frameworks that are assessed in the FAR section are issued by the following:

  • Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).
  • Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).
  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (U.S. SEC).
  • International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

This section tests knowledge of auditing standards in the United States and abroad. The four areas covered within the AUD test are:

Assessing risk and developing a planned responsePerforming further procedures and obtaining evidence
Ethics, professionalism, and general responsibilitiesForming conclusions and reporting

Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

The CPA exam’s Business Environment and Concepts part assesses a candidate’s general knowledge of business concepts, international practice, and written communication skills. The BEC has five areas of content:

Corporate GovernanceEconomic Concepts and Analysis
Financial ManagementInformation Technology
Operations Management

Regulation (REG)

This section tests a candidate’s understanding of their legal and professional duties.

The CPA exam is known for being especially difficult to pass. Candidates should work with mentors and academic advisors to carefully plan their study schedules as they prepare for their tests. Taking good notes, focusing on exam topics and review questions, completing practice tests, and using study guides will boost their confidence and increase their chances of success. 

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All candidates must submit application forms to or register online with CPA Examination Services (CPAES) to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. Candidates who have received their college or university credentials must also submit the following: 

  • A sealed envelope that contains their official academic transcript.
  • Approved evaluation form (if the candidate attended college or university abroad).
  • ADA modification form (if requesting testing accommodations for a disability).
  • Payment of the examination fee to CPAES.

Candidates who earned their credit hours and credentials in a foreign country must offer proof of evaluation by an approved international evaluation agency. They must also acquire a letter of acceptance into an accredited graduate degree program in the United States.

Candidates who are currently enrolled in school must submit additional documentation. They must provide a certificate of enrollment form that indicates all course requirements will be fulfilled within 120 days of approval to schedule the Uniform CPA Exam.

All required documents and payments must be sent to CPA Examination Services, Hawaii.

Upon approval to take the Uniform CPA Exam, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) will send the candidate a Notice to Schedule (NTS) by email, mail, or fax. The candidate will then schedule their exam, take the test, and wait to access or receive their scores online or by mail.


Before becoming an approved CPA in Hawaii, candidates must fulfill their experience requirement. While working for this requirement, accountants must receive supervision from a licensed CPA in Hawaii or an approved equivalent authority.

These requirements can be fulfilled by one of the following:

  • Completing 1,500 hours as an auditor who employs generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and auditing standards for a public accounting practice.
  • Practicing a minimum of 35 hours per week in a public, private, or government accounting firm for two years.
  • Teaching upper-level university accounting courses that satisfy Hawaii Board of Public Accountancy requirements.

Experience must include the practice of accounting and auditing skills in at least one of these areas: 

  • Reporting on financial statements.
  • Tax Preparation.
  • Providing tax advice.
  • Giving advice to managers.
  • Consulting.

All hours must be approved by the applicant’s licensed supervisor and certified via a completed certification of public accountancy experience form. Candidates will submit this form when they apply for their license.

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Hawaii follows a two-tier CPA licensing process. You must pass the Uniform CPA Examination and fulfill the education and experience requirements. Then you can apply for a CPA certificate, license, or permit to practice.

A complete application includes the following documents: 

  • Application and a fee payment for the CPA License form.
  • Three notarized certificates of competence signed by non-relatives that serve as personal or professional reference letters.
  • Official college transcripts.
  • Certification of public accounting experience that has been authorized by the candidate’s supervisor.

Applicants should send these materials to the Hawaii Board of Public Accountancy, which will send a notification when their licenses have been approved. 

To apply for a permit to practice, candidates must fulfill an 80-hour continuing professional education (CPE) requirement. First-time applicants will be credited for these hours when they pass the Uniform CPA Exam if they file for the permit within two years of completion. All application forms and fee payments must be submitted to the Hawaii Board of Public Accountancy.

CPAs must renew their licenses every two years. To qualify for renewal, applicants must also complete 80 CPE hours, including no less than four ethics CPE hours, during the 24-month licensing period.

Interstate and International Reciprocal Licensure

The State of Hawaii does not issue a reciprocal license form. This means that active CPAs who hold an out-of-state certificate or license must apply for a Hawaiian license and permit to practice if they intend to work in Hawaii. 

Out-of-state candidates must also:

  • Verify their license and/or examination scores by completing a form that is included in the application for their CPA license. They should forward the top part of this form to the state that issued the CPA license and submit the remainder to the Hawaii Board of Public Accountancy.
  • Submit a waiver request to the Hawaii Board of Public Accountancy if they have been actively practicing public accountancy for at least five years, have been licensed in another state for at least ten years, and are eligible for exemption from education requirements in the state of Hawaii.

International candidates should send the proper evaluation of their academic credentials to the Hawaii Board of Public Accountancy. After a candidate receives their Hawaii CPA license, they should ensure they have fulfilled their CPE requirements and apply for their permit to practice.


Start Your Journey Toward Becoming a CPA in Hawaii

The CPA credential is the highest standard of achievement in the business and finance industries. Trusted certified public accountants in Hawaii are expected to achieve elevated levels of success. CPAs form a membership of esteemed and respected professionals. If you are planning to devote your career to working in business and finance, becoming a CPA in Hawaii will put you on the path toward a bright future.

Related Resources:

Best Online MBA Programs for Accountants
Best Online Accounting MBA Programs
Best Online Bachelor’s in Accounting

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?