What is a CPA?

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is an accountant who has successfully passed the Uniform CPA Examination.  One of the world’s leading licensing examinations, the Uniform CPA Examination serves to protect the public interest by helping to ensure that only qualified individuals become licensed as CPAs.

There are four parts (the four “E’s”) to obtaining a Colorado Certified Public Accountant Certificate.

  • First, you must meet the education requirements to qualify to take the Uniform CPA Examination.
  • Second, you must successfully pass the Uniform CPA Examination. Dating back to the early 1900s, the CPA exam was a two-day test held on the first Wednesday and Thursday of each May and November, spanning fifteen and a half hours of actual test-taking, broken down into four separate sections. The “new” CPA Examination, as of April 2004, is delivered in a new computer-based format.
  • Third, you must take and successfully pass the AICPA Ethics examination or its equivalent.
  • Fourth, you must have one year of experience in public accounting, under the direct supervision of an actively licensed Certified Public Accountant, or experience that the Board deems to be equivalent. The experience must be gained 5 years before or after passing the Uniform CPA Examination.

Only about 40 percent of accountants are CPAs.

Most states require  Continuing Professional Education (CPE) to maintain active licenses.  In Colorado, CPAs must have 80 hours of CPE over two years. There must be a minimum of 30 hours in any combination of tax, accounting and auditing, management consulting services, financial planning, accounting related computer sciences, or specialized industry accounting, plus four hours of Colorado Rules & Regulations (CR & R) or general ethics.