Draft: How to Become a CPA in Alabama
H1 How to Become a CPA in Alabama
Title: How to Become a CPA in Alabama | MastersInAccounting.info
Link to Alabama table spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1FFofOeE9bnpFX8xY6MwkbFzn–rEc0Gaq5xRMi2hKIk/edit#gid=0
Live page: https://www.mastersinaccounting.info/alabama/
NASBA Report CPA Exam pass rates (images):
This guide to accounting programs in Alabama provides you with key information on your options for earning a graduate-level accounting degree so that you can make an informed decision. Alabama’s universities and colleges offer a wide range of accounting programs to fit your desired career track. In addition to information on traditional on-campus programs, we have included profiles of online accounting programs for those who need more flexibility in their education. You will also find information on the process of becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Alabama as well as accounting employment levels and salaries throughout the state.
- There are 32 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Alabama.1
- 12 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
- 1 school was ranked in Forbes’ Best Business Schools 2019.2
- 2 schools were ranked in the Princeton Review’s Great Schools for Accounting Majors 2020.3
- 2 schools were ranked in <Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs 2019.4
- No schools were ranked in US News & World Report’s Best MBA Accounting Programs 2020.5
- 4 schools had a 2018 CPA exam pass rate at or above the national average of 51.9%.6
- 10 universities and business schools are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.7
- 2 schools are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).8
- No schools are accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).9
For not-for-profit colleges and universities.
Table of Contents
- Steps to Become a CPA in Alabama
- Alabama CPA Salary and Job Outlook
- Top Master’s in Accounting Programs in Alabama
- Alabama Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison
- Select Schools in Alabama with Master’s in Accounting Programs
- Additional Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Student Reviews
Steps to Become a CPA in Alabama
The Alabama State Board of Accountancy (the Board) sets the requirements for becoming a CPA in the state. There are seven main steps to complete in order to earn a CPA license.
- Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.
- Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
- Complete the AICPA ethics course.
- Receive a CPA certificate.
- Accumulate the required hours of experience.
- Register as a CPA with the Board.
- Begin practicing as a CPA.
1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.
The first step to becoming a CPA in Alabama is to complete 150 semester hours of college-level coursework that includes at least a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in accounting. The Board requires 33 semester hours of accounting coursework at the upper division undergraduate or graduate level (introductory courses are not counted). The Board also requires 27 semester hours of additional business coursework at the undergraduate or graduate level from among the following subject areas:
- Business ethics
- Business law
- Communication skills
- Legal and social environment of business
- Organization, group, and individual behavior
- Quantitative applications in business
2. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
The Uniform CPA Exam, developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), is a standardized exam required for CPA licensure in all 50 states. To sit for the exam in Alabama, the individual must complete 120 semester hours of college-level education, including the completion of a bachelor’s degree and 24 semester hours each of acceptable accounting and business courses. CPA candidates will also need to submit the CPA Examination Application to be approved to sit for each exam section. The Board will review the candidate’s coursework to determine if the education requirements have been met. Applicants will then need to register with Prometric to schedule a time to take the Uniform CPA Exam. Applicants must pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam with a score of 75 or higher within an 18-month rolling period. After completing the Uniform CPA Exam, candidates have 36 months to complete the full education requirement.
3. Complete the AICPA ethics course.
After passing the Uniform CPA Exam, Alabama CPA candidates are required to complete the AICPA ethics course and exam entitled Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course, available online through the AICPA’s website. The course and exam must be passed with a score of 90% or higher to qualify.
4. Receive a CPA certificate.
The state of Alabama has a two-tier system for CPAs. Once candidates have completed the education requirements and passed the CPA exam, the state will first grant a CPA certificate. The CPA certificate does not allow individuals to practice or represent themselves as a CPA until the experience requirements are met.
5. Accumulate the required hours of experience.
To obtain a CPA permit, candidates must accumulate one year of full-time public accounting experience or two years of full-time work experience in the accounting industry, business, government, or teaching college accounting. All work must be done under supervision deemed acceptable by the Board.
6. Register as a CPA with the Board.
Candidates who have passed the Uniform CPA Exam and the work experience may submit a registration form, a record of work experience, and all relevant fees to the Board.
7. Begin practicing as a CPA.
Once a CPA has registered with the Board and met all CPE requirements, CPA practice may begin.
CPA License Renewal and Continuing Education (CE) Information
CPE requirements begin on October 1 following the passage of the Uniform CPA exam. Permits are renewed annually, with renewals and continuing professional education (CPE) due by September 30. All permitted CPAs must complete 40 hours of CPE each year, including eight hours of accounting and auditing and two hours of ethics. No more than 12 hours of personal development courses may be counted.
Alabama CPA Salary and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are 17,400 accountants in Alabama earning an average annual salary of $72,120.10 The Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area has the highest number of accountant and auditor positions in the state at 6,580.10 Accountants and auditors in the Dothan area have the highest average annual salary in Alabama, at $82,180.10 Montgomery has the tenth-highest concentration of accountants in the nation with about 12.88 accountants and auditors for every 1,000 jobs.11 Employment for accountants and auditors in Alabama is expected to grow by 7.1% by 2028, a rate slightly higher than the national average.12
Alabama CPA Salary Info by Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number Employed10||Average Annual Salary10|
Top-Ranked Schools with Master’s in Accounting Programs in Alabama
Forbes’ Best Business Schools 2019
- The University of Alabama (#50)
*With master’s in accounting programs.
Princeton Review’s Great Schools for Accounting Majors* 2020
- Auburn University
- The University of Alabama at Birmingham
*With master’s programs.
Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs 2019
- The University of Alabama (#10)
- Auburn University (#30)
Alabama Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison
Below you will find a table comparing the master’s-level accounting programs available at not-for-profit schools in Alabama. You can find each school’s business accreditation status, CPA exam pass rate, available accounting programs, acceptance rate, and undergraduate graduation rate (a common indicator of a school’s success). We have also included information on which schools offer online or hybrid options and the cost-per-credit hour for in-state, in-person, full-time enrollment. Please take note that out-of-state, online, or part-time students may pay a different rate.
Select Schools in Alabama with Master’s in Accounting Programs
The University of North Alabama (UNA) offers a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) that can be completed online or on-campus. The 30-semester hour program is structured to provide students with a bachelor’s degree in accounting the necessary coursework for CPA licensure. UNA’s MAcc program consists of 18 credit hours of core coursework such as Advanced Auditing, Advanced Accounting Theory, and Research in Accounting. The remainder of the coursework is made up of 12 semester hours of electives. Enrollment is open to students both with and without an undergraduate degree in accounting, although students without prior accounting coursework will need to complete prerequisite coursework before enrolling. Unconditional admission into the program requires either a graduate degree or a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 2.5 and either a GMAT score of 450 or higher, four years of professional experience, or membership in Beta Gamma Sigma. UNA also offers a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Accounting that is structured to help students build expert skills and business knowledge for advancement in professional accounting. U
Auburn University’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business maintains a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program that emphasizes technical, research, and communication skills while preparing students for the Uniform CPA Examination. The 30-semester hour program can be completed in three semesters for most traditional students and in five semesters on an online, part-time basis. Required courses for all tracks include Advanced Auditing and Assurance Services, Federal Tax Research, Integrated Accounting Applications, and a two-and-a-half-day on-campus residency. The remaining coursework comes from electives such as Financial Analysis & Valuation and Governmental and Not-For-Profit Accounting. On-campus MAcc students will sit for all four sections of the CPA exam during their spring semester and enroll in the Becker CPA review courses. Students are not required to hold an undergraduate degree in business or accounting to enroll in the program but must have taken the foundation courses in these topics outlined by the university. Admission in the MAcc program requires a bachelor’s degree and a GMAT score.
Samford University offers a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program through the Brock School of Business that equips students with the skills necessary for success as accountants and advisors in a global business environment. The 30-credit hour program can be completed in as little as one year and has a focus on functional skills such as ethics, communication, teamwork, and professional research. Program classes typically meet in the evening; online courses are also available for full- and part-time students. Courses in the MAcc program include Applied Professional Research, Auditing II, Income Tax II, and Government and Not-for-Profit Accounting. Students with undergraduate degrees in accounting should meet the 150-hour program requirement to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. Enrollment in the program is on a rolling basis and requires a bachelor’s degree for admission. Past graduates of the Brock School have had a 99% job placement rate within six months of graduation. Students of the MAcc program with an interest in business may be interested in enrolling in the MBA/MAcc joint program.
Online and Hybrid Programs
Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) offers a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) in a hybrid format that can be completed partially online and partially on-campus. The program requires 30 credit hours to complete and focuses on developing accounting and leadership skills and preparing students for the Uniform CPA Exam. Completing the program should meet Alabama’s educational requirement for licensure. The program may be taken full- or part-time, but must be completed within five years. AUM’s MAcc curriculum requires four core courses and six elective courses. The core courses cover topics such as managerial cost accounting, auditing, and a capstone course covering financial analysis. Elective subjects include financial accounting, not-for-profit accounting, and a CPA review course during which students will sit for the CPA exam. Admission into the program requires a bachelor’s degree, the completion of prerequisite coursework, and either a satisfactory GMAT score, a professional certification or a previous graduate degree. For students seeking financial aid, scholarships are available through AUM’s School of Accountancy.
Jacksonville State University (JSU) hosts a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Accounting that can be completed entirely online or in a hybrid format. The MBA in Accounting requires 33 credit hours to complete and can be taken either full-time or part-time. The program requires 24 semester hours of foundation courses before beginning the core coursework. Students with a bachelor’s degree in business will likely have fulfilled the prerequisite requirements. JSU’s program has eight required courses, including International Business, Accounting Information Analysis, and Managerial Economics. The remaining nine elective hours may be taken from any of the approved accounting courses. Admission to the MBA program requires either an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA or above, a combined GMAT and undergraduate GPA of 950 or better, or a score of 1,000 or better when combining the GMAT and the GPA of the last 64 credit hours of undergraduate study. A combined GMAT and GPA is calculated by multiplying a GPA by 200 and adding the GMAT score.
The Mitchell College of Business at the University of South Alabama (USA) offers a Master of Accounting (MAcc) degree available entirely online. The MAcc program is designed for students seeking CPA licensure and careers in accounting across various fields. The 30-credit hour program can be complete in as little as one year and should meet CPA licensure requirements. USA’s MAcc curriculum consists of 10 required courses such as Fraud Examination, Financial Accounting Theory, and Advanced Auditing Analytics. Applicants must have completed nine prerequisite courses with a “C” or better to begin the MAcc program. Admission into the program also requires an undergraduate degree with a GPA of 3.0 or above and a GMAT score of 450 with a 3.0 or above in the Analytical Writing section. Retention in the program requires an overall GPA of at least 3.0 with a maximum of one grade of “C.” Any grade below a “C” will result in dismissal from the program. Students applying for the online program will need to meet the minimum technology requirements to fulfill the program’s coursework successfully.
Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Alabama
- Warren Averett, LLC: With locations across Alabama and beyond, Warren Averett is one of the largest CPA and consulting firms in the Southeast.
- Banfield Murphy Shank & Smith PC (BMSS): Based in Birmingham, Gadsden, and Huntsville, BMSS is one of the largest accountancy firms in Alabama.
- Horne CPAs & Business Advisors (Horne): With their Alabama office in Mobile, Horne has a national presence that offers a full suite of accounting services across a wide range of industries.
Alabama Accounting Associations
- Alabama Society of CPAs (ASCPA): Representing over 6,000 CPA in Alabama, the ASCPA offers members CPE and networking opportunities as well as CPA referral services fo the public.
Alabama Association of Accountants and Tax Preparers (AAOTP): Founded in 1942, the AAOTP works to create professional networking and training opportunities for its members and advocate for the interests of its members’ professions.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you become a CPA in Alabama?
To become a CPA in Alabama you must first complete 150 semester hours of college-level coursework, including specified coursework in accounting and business. You must take both the Uniform CPA Exam and the AICPA ethics exam. Once the education and exam requirements are complete, the Board will grant you a certificate. After receiving the certificate, you must gain one year of full-time professional experience in accounting. After completing the experience requirement and any necessary CPE, you may register with the Board and begin practice as a CPA.
How much does a CPA make in Alabama?
According to the BLS, the average salary for the 17,400 accountants and auditors in Alabama is $72,120, with the Dothan metropolitan area reporting the highest average annual salaries at $82,180.10
Is a master’s degree required to become a CPA in Alabama?
You do not need a master’s degree to become a CPA in Alabama. However, Alabama does follow the 150-hour rule for prospective CPAs, meaning that 150 total hours of education must be completed before candidates can qualify for a license. Since bachelor’s degrees are typically 120 hours, additional study beyond the bachelor’s degree will be needed. A master’s degree from an AACSB-accredited accounting program will fulfill the educational requirements to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam.
University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
Student Review: “The University of Alabama accounting program was an excellent opportunity that I was afforded and I’m so pleased that I seized the chance to challenge myself. The core principles of the program really consisted of ensuring that we would be prepared to enter the workforce and contribute upon graduation. Throughout the semester they would bring in various Big 4 firms to talk to us about what is expected day to day and this also doubled as an opportunity to hand out resumes for potential internships. The only thing that I disliked about the program was the rigorous coursework but obviously this is something one would expect to encounter in a program like this.” -Jacob L., student at University of Alabama
Student Review: “Overall my four years in the accounting undergraduate program at UA were good. Our professors really stressed to us the importance of professionalism early on which has helped me grow in my workplace since graduating. On a regular basis there was a revolving door of companies coming in to speak to us. We would get to hear first hand from places like PwC and Ernst & Young (now re-branded to EY) about what we could expect from our degree and the type of value that is expected in return from you as a worker. Besides the regular professional seminars, our professors placed a great deal of emphasis on getting to know one another and how important person to person interaction is later on in life. I grew to be friends with many of the other people in my major because our teachers facilitated communication between us all. The school load could be overwhelming at times and the work is tedious (it’s accounting after all) but overall I really enjoyed the program. The teachers inspired confidence in the students and really gave us the tools to grow and prepare ourselves for life in the work force.” -Student at the University of Alabama
Jacksonville State University
700 Pelham Rd N
Jacksonville, AL 36265
Student Review: “The Accounting program at Jacksonville State University prepared me well for my accounting career. I learned about many of the topics tested on the Certified Public Accounting exam, which is necessary to become a CPA. My instructors were always helpful and available to explain topics I didn’t understand. Several of my professors had been in public accounting, so they were able to offer important information about the industry. They were also great resources for networking with accountants in the area. JSU also offers accounting and business extracurricular associations. Accounting is more than just a major, it is a way of life. JSU’s program definitely prepared me for this new way of life in the accounting industry.” -Student at Jacksonville State University
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Forbes Best Business Schools 2019: https://www.forbes.com/business-schools/list/2/
3. The Princeton Review. The Best 385 Colleges, 2020 Edition. The Princeton Review, 2019.
4. Public Accounting Report 2019 Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs: https://wpcarey.asu.edu/sites/default/files/documents/par-grad-2019.pdf
5. US News & World Report Best Accounting Programs 2020: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/accounting-rankings
6. National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. The NASBA Report on the CPA Exam: Candidate Performance on the Uniform CPA Examination, 2018 Edition. National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, Inc., 2019.
7. Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International: https://www.aacsb.edu/
8. Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP): https://acbsp.org/
9. International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE): https://iacbe.org/
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2019 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Alabama: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_al.htm
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2019, Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm
12. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
13. US News & World Report Best Business Schools 2020: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools