How To Become a CPA Without an Accounting Degree

Entering the finance industry opens doors to various accounting roles, including becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). While traditional routes often involve an accounting degree, it’s possible to pursue a CPA career without one. In this guide, we’ll explore how to achieve CPA certification without an accounting degree and outline the necessary steps.

Strengthen Your Profile

Before delving into the intricacies of the CPA certification process, it’s essential to pause and reflect on your career aspirations and preferences. Understanding your desired job types and work arrangements can significantly influence your journey toward becoming a CPA.

Whether you envision yourself immersed in the daily grind of a full-time position, seeking the flexibility of part-time work, exploring the contractual realm, or embracing the transient nature of temporary roles, each option carries its unique set of advantages and considerations.

Do I Need an Accounting Degree to Be a CPA?

While many CPAs hold accounting degrees, state requirements vary. Notably, some states permit obtaining CPA certification without an accounting degree. These states include:

  • Alaska
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts

However, certification in a state allows practice only within that state, with potential eligibility for license transfer under mobility guidelines.

How to Get a CPA Without an Accounting Degree

Follow these steps to pursue a CPA career without an accounting degree:

  1. Review Your State’s Requirements

Research CPA requirements in your intended state using official resources like the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) or the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA).

For more information: How to become a CPA in Florida

  1. Complete the Right Coursework

Ensure you meet your state’s education requirements, typically 150 college credit hours. Pay attention to specific course topics and credit hour distributions mandated by your state.

  1. Get the Necessary Job Experience

Gain one to two years of relevant professional experience, which may include work in corporate settings or government agencies if public accounting opportunities are limited.

  1. Take the CPA Exam in Your State

Register for and pass the Uniform CPA Examination, consisting of four sections: Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation.

  1. Meet Any Additional CPA Requirements

Check for additional requirements such as passing ethics exams in certain states like California, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

  1. Check Mobility Guidelines for Your CPA License

If serving clients in multiple states, verify mobility guidelines to determine if additional licenses or steps are necessary.

  1. Renew Your CPA License as Required

Stay updated on license renewal requirements, including continuing education, to maintain a valid credential.


In conclusion, while the conventional route to CPA certification involves an accounting degree, it’s entirely possible to achieve this milestone without one. By carefully adhering to state-specific guidelines and following the outlined steps, individuals can pursue a fulfilling career as a CPA, even without a traditional accounting background. Whether through thorough planning, acquiring necessary professional experience, or successfully passing the Uniform CPA Examination, dedication and persistence are key. Embracing this alternative pathway opens doors to diverse career opportunities and highlights the adaptability of the accounting profession. Ultimately, with commitment and determination, aspiring CPAs can realize their career aspirations and contribute meaningfully to the field of accounting, regardless of their educational background.

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