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How to Become a CPA in Rhode Island

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If you’re an accountant looking to advance your career in Rhode Island, becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a great way to do so. A CPA license not only enhances your professional credibility but also opens up a world of opportunities for career advancement and increased earning potential. However, the process of becoming a CPA can be overwhelming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the requirements and procedures specific to Rhode Island. In this article, we will guide you through the steps to becoming a CPA in Rhode Island, including the education and experience requirements, the application process, and the exam itself. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of what it takes to become a licensed CPA in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island Accounting

Rhode Island is known for being among the pinnacle states in the nation on the U.S. News & World Report Best Business Environment list. The “Ocean State” gets high marks for business and patent creation rates. It is ranked as a top three for large corporate headquarters. The list includes substantial members of Fortune 500 companies like CVS and Textron.

Accounting experts wanting to become CPAs in Rhode Island can aim for lucrative corporate jobs. These positions need to be filled with accounting talent the industries demand. That includes expertise in inventory, information systems accounting, and managerial accounting practices. Rhode Island has plenty of opportunities for CPAs in traditional roles. These professionals serve small businesses and wealthy individuals statewide.

According to the Census Bureau, the state reports a median household income of over $70,000. Rhode Island residents turn to qualified CPAs for many kinds of accounting expertise. Accountants handle the books for small businesses and help with estate planning. They also figure out how to fund educational expenses.

Qualified CPAs can branch out independently to start an accounting practice that meets their needs or look for jobs within Rhode Island’s many existing accounting firms. Those organizations include KLR in Middletown, DiSanto, Priest & Company in Warwick, and Sansiveri, Kimball & Company in Providence.

Here are the Steps to Become a CPA in Rhode Island:

No matter the path you choose, here are the four steps you must take to get your CPA license in Rhode Island:

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

Getting Your Education in Rhode Island

Meeting Rhode Island’s CPA degree and curriculum requirements is simple. Begin your journey by requesting information from Rhode Island business schools that offer accounting programs. The Rhode Island Board of Accountancy states that certified public accountants must complete 150 credit hours of college coursework and attain a bachelor’s degree.

A typical accounting bachelor’s degree includes 120 semester hours. Most students will complete thirty hours within each of the four years it takes to satisfy program requirements. Earning a post-baccalaureate certificate or a master’s degree in accounting are the routes most professionals take to get the 30 additional credits. An online Master’s in Accounting is a popular option for many students. You can also find a specialized five-year CPA track that offers a blended bachelor’s and master’s curriculum. The 150 credit hours of college coursework you earn through undergraduate and graduate courses will meet these requirements to be eligible for licensure.

The Rhode Island Board of Accountancy recognizes applicable college credits and degrees accredited by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Your credits can come from a foreign institution. These credentials must be evaluated by NASBA International Evaluation Services or Foreign Academic Credentials Service, Inc.

There are three doors to walk through:

Door #1Complete an undergraduate accounting degree and then earn a graduate accounting degree.
Door #2Complete a bachelor’s program and then earn a graduate degree in business or another concentration with credits consisting of fifteen semester hours in graduate-level accounting courses. You may also take twenty-four semester hours in undergraduate-level accounting courses. Accounting courses must include topics in fundamental accounting, intermediate financial accounting and reporting, tax accounting, auditing, and advanced financial accounting and reporting.
Door #3Complete a bachelor’s degree with a concurrent certificate. You can also opt for taking additional courses totaling 150 credit hours of college coursework. There must be at least twenty-four semester hours of accounting credits with twenty-four semester hours of business courses. Qualifying courses include topics in fundamental accounting, intermediate financial accounting and reporting, tax accounting, auditing, advanced financial accounting and reporting, economics, and business law.

Taking the Uniform CPA Exam in Rhode Island

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The CPA exam is a rigorous and comprehensive exam that tests your knowledge and skills in accounting and business. The exam consists of four sections: 

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD), 
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), 
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and 
  • Regulation (REG). 

Each section is a four-hour computer-based exam that includes ask-based simulations, multiple-choice questions, and written communication tasks.

The exam is designed to test your proficiency in accounting and business concepts, your ability to apply them to real-world scenarios, and your skills in critical thinking, analysis, and communication. To pass the exam, you need to demonstrate a deep understanding of accounting and business topics, as well as the ability to apply them to complex situations.

The CPA exam is challenging and requires a significant amount of preparation and dedication to pass. However, earning your CPA license can open up a world of opportunities and help you advance your career in accounting and business.

Register for the Exam

You’re set to take the Uniform CPA exam in Rhode Island once you complete a bachelor’s degree and have 150 semester hours of credit. Rhode Island’s Board of Accountancy regulates and approves who may sit for the Uniform CPA Exam.

Log into the CPA Examination Services (CPAES) to register online. Submit all needed documentation along with Uniform CPA Exam applications. Candidates must submit official college transcripts in a sealed school envelope. They can ask their business school to submit official transcripts directly to CPAES. Test takers can also request any disability testing accommodations if needed. The final step is to pay all included fees.

The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) will send out a Notification to Schedule (NTS). You can log onto Prometric’s website to schedule an exam. Rhode Island’s testing centers are in Warwick and Cumberland. Show up at the correct Prometric testing site on your exam day prepared to test. Once your exam is scored, your exam scores will be mailed to you.

Gaining the Needed Experience in Rhode Island

All Rhode Island CPAs must satisfy the state’s accounting work experience prerequisite before receiving their license to practice.

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A licensed CPA must supervise the work experience. The career center at your business school can help you find suitable opportunities. Applicants can acquire experience through employment in industry, education, public practice, or government practice.

Competencies demonstrated within your experience portfolio depend upon the employment setting. Candidates can work in public practices as staff accountants. Competencies include using independent thought and judgment on various accounting matters. You can apply the correct behavioral and technical standards to your work. Employees working in federal, state, or municipal government practices can assess the effectiveness of the internal controls of an accounting agency. They can also learn transaction streams and information systems.

Employees working as accountants or auditors for government agencies learn to understand their employers’ transactions and information systems. They can appraise the competence of their employer’s internal controls, prepare and analyze financial statements, or prepare tax returns.

All CPA applicants should grasp some general competencies. These professionals understand the Rhode Island Board of Accountancy’s Code of Professional Conduct. They should display knowledge and understanding of the objectives and goals of different business entities. CPAs in Rhode Island should develop and analyze critical success factors and performance measures. 

Get Your CPA License/Permit to Practice and Continuing Education in Rhode Island

Are you ready to apply for a Rhode Island CPA Certificate?

Make sure you have completed the following steps:

  • Pursue 150 credit hours of college education and earn an undergraduate degree. 
  • Pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam. 
  • Submit an official copy of all college transcripts with seals and a college diploma copy to the Board along with supporting documentation.
  • Include a small photo of yourself.
  • Mail proof of passing the AICPA Ethics Exam.
  • Satisfy the Board’s employment experience requirement of twelve months (1820 hours) of paid work experience. Employment or volunteering can be in education, public practice, industry, or government. A verifying CPA affirms your experience by signing the Experience Verification form in the Application for CPA Certificate packet.

Now, you can apply for your Rhode Island CPA Certificate. The Rhode Island Board of Accountancy encourages applicants to apply online. Applying through a paper application in the mail results in a three-month delay in processing applications.

How Can I Stay Current Through Continuing Professional Education?

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All Rhode Island licensed CPAs fulfill continuing professional education (CPE) hours to maintain licensure.

CPAs satisfy 120 CPE hours (or 15 days) every three years. A CPE day equals eight hours of instruction. A CPE hour contains 50 minutes of instruction. Twenty-four of the 120 CPE hours are in accounting and auditing. Six of the 120 CPE hours are in regulatory or behavioral ethics.

Educational formats are approved for CPE credit. They include lectures, seminars, and self-study.

  • Applicants understand self-study hours are less than 80 of the total 120 CPE hours over three years.
  • You can be a lecturer or moderator. This format equals two CPE hours per hour of instruction. It must be under 60 of the 120 CPE hours in three years.
  • You can publish articles or books. It must be under 60 of the 120 CPE hours over three years.

Qualifying CPE programs in Rhode Island are available via the Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants, NASBA’s National Registry of CPE Sponsors, and the American Institute of CPAs.

Becoming a CPA in Rhode Island

The financial benefits of becoming a CPA in Rhode Island are clear. CPAs make more money for the same job than they would if they lacked the license. It enables them to secure jobs they would not be able to get without licensure. The AICPA reports that CPAs earn 10-15% more than non-CPAs working accounting-related jobs. If you work in public accounting in Rhode Island, you will get preferential treatment for being a CPA. Regardless of your accounting field, the CPA title will separate you from the rest of the field.

Related Resources:

Best Online Master’s in Accounting Programs
Highest Paying Accounting Careers
Best Online Bachelor’s in Accounting

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?