US CPA Certification and US CPA License

Difference between US CPA Cert and US CPA License

Many questions arise about the two terms US CPA Certificate and US CPA License. In order to have clarity, let us understand these terms correctly.

US CPA Certification is the highest accounting professional certification issued by the American Institute of Public Accountants (AICPA It is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession, with more than 696,000 members spread over 192 countries. It has a history of serving the public interest since 1887.

US CPA license is granted by the respective State Board of Accountancy for a person who acquires the CPA certification and meets certain requirements specified by the State Board of Accountancy.

The first requirement to obtain CPA license is to actually pass the CPA examinations.

What is US CPA Certification?

To begin with, we will answer the basic question who can take up CPA examination especially from India. Below mentioned category of students from India can take up the CPA examination:

  • B.Com graduates with 70% scores from a NAAC A+ rated Institution
  • B.Com graduates with 1st  year M.Com completed
  • B.Com graduates with CA Intermediate/ACMA Intermediate qualifications (Indian CMA)
  • Professionally qualified candidates like CAs, CMAs, CS with B.Com graduation

A candidate has to have a minimum of 120 credits to take up the CPA examination. However, he/she has to be assessed about his/her eligibility before taking up the CPA exams. Every State in the US has its own set of rules and regulations and hence it is preferred that a candidate gets his assessment evaluated by an expert before joining the program.  In case a candidate is found ineligible, there are alternative options (bridge courses) which can be done to make them eligible.

The only criterion to get a CPA certificate, after assessing one’s eligibility is to clear the Certified Public Accountant exam.

A candidate has to write the 4 papers exam and clear it with by obtaining a minimum mark of 75 per paper to acquire CPA certification. The course can be completed in a period of 12 to 15 months. However, if the candidate dedicates his/her time and skill effectively, he or she can even finish the program successfully within a twelve month period.

The US CPA examination is held almost throughout a year. But a word of caution is that the candidate must pass all the other 3 exams within 18 months from the date he/she passes the first exam. Otherwise, they have to write the exam that they first passed again.

A US CPA Course Certificate will be awarded to you once you have successfully cleared all your CPA exams.

CPA course certificate indicates that you have completed the academic training required to practice as a Public Accountant and you are capable of providing expert professional services.

The candidate does not need any prior work experience to acquire the CPA course certificate. Obtaining a CPA certificate is the first step for any aspirant who wishes to become a Certified Public Accountant. The next step is obtaining a CPA license that will give you the authority to practice.

What is US CPA License?    

The US CPA license is awarded by the State Board of Accountancy once the candidate completes practical training and meets the experience requirements. The most important thing to note here is that a candidate must have a minimum of 150 credits to obtain the CPA License.

Eligibility requirements differ from one jurisdiction (read as State) to the other and hence requirements will depend upon the jurisdiction from where a student chooses to get his licensure. Links  to  all  Boards  of  Accountancy  can  be  found  at

On obtaining the US CPA licensure, you become a fully authorized Certified Public Accountant (CPA) from the United States of America. However, most of the state licensing boards require a qualified CPA maintain and improve their skills through Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses. (Ref for more details:

Since the certificate is issued by the highest Accounting authority in the USA, this powerful license gives you the authority to sign on tax returns, audit reports and use the term CPA on any official or legal report.

A US CPA license is a very lucrative option and can widen your career scope. With this global recognition, it is relatively easy to get a job at a destination of your choice.

FINSPIRE academy, Chennai offers top-quality LIVE online classes for both aspirants of US Certified Public Accountant Certification and License

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