Do private industry jobs require that you must be a "Licensed CPA"?

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    Hi Guys,

    Do private jobs absolutely require that you have a CPA License or does passing the four sections of the CPA exam alone work?

    If I don't want to go into public accounting, Do I still need to obtain a license to work in the private industry? Or the license would just be a requirement to validate that I have passed the CPA exam.

    What would you suggest I should do if I don't really want to work in public accounting.

    PS: I am registered in the state CA for my exams.

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    CPA (Licensed in California)



    It really depends on the job.

    In a huge fortune 500 company, if you wanted to be management they're pretty much going to require not only a CPA license but specifically big 4 experience.

    For an entry level job or one in a privately held company the CPA license won't be “required” but you'll very likely be competing for positions against people who do have their CPA license so unless you have some specific quality or experience that they value more highly than your licensed peers, they're the ones who are going to get the job offers.

    Simply passing the exams doesn't mean much to an employer in industry-except maybe as a conversation starter. Chances are the conversation will be “when are you planning to become licensed”.

    Old timer,  A71'er since 2010.

    Finance manager/HR manager




    I work for a publicly held comapny. A CPA isn't required, but it makes me a more desirable candidate. It depends on what you want to do in the private sector. If you want that CFO or Controller position, you're going to need the CPA license. If you want the staff accountant, probably not as important.

    If you've passed all the exams, why wouldn't you get your license? Most companies will pay for the license fee.

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    No one ever fails the CPA exam, there are only those who give up.


    If you don't work in public accounting, you don't have to be licensed. But CA is such a competitive market, and it all depends on the company. If you want to work for great companies (i.e., Google), CPA is required. Or if you want to be a manager, the company usually requires CPA and prefers big4 experience. I know some experienced accountants (over 10+) without CPA. They have work/balance jobs and can't go much further in their career. But they don't seem to care. I guess it all depends on what you like. If you want to have a high paying job and don't mind working hard, you should go for CPA. Or if you don't mind a low paying job with no chance of promotion but like to enjoy your life, then, it is pointless to pursue CPA.

    CPA/ MST/ Roger CPA Review

    If you want to get into a managerial role, they are going to want it.

    Otherwise, probably not. Why pass the exam and not get licensed though?

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    Licensed in California



    To add to what others said, definitely get the license. Whether or not you keep it active is a different story. But, having your name on the state site for anyone to lookup is a nice asset to show your credential is valid. Simply saying “I passed the exams” seems like a stretch for pushing you ahead of the competition.

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    Mailed application! Hoping to be licensed by year-end!

    Thanks people. Just wanted to know what you all think? I got the answer. 🙂

    I have just appeared for REG and awaiting results. I have foreign education and experience and on a dependent visa here. Was a little bummed about the experience requirements for licensing in CA. And hence was wondering if I would ever be able to get a license. It isn't easy to get work here under a CPA and get a work visa sponsored. Still researching about the best way to get a license.

    Do Any of you know anyone who has been successful in obtaining a license with foreign experience? In CA or any other State? How strict is the CBA in evaluating the experience? Just wanted to have an idea.

    Thanks a lot for reading through my post and writing down here. Really means a lot! Thanks to each one of you. 🙂

    AUD - 80
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    FAR - 82
    REG - 79
    CPA (Licensed in California)



    Hi guys! I am still wondering. I had internships in a bank, government and nonprofit organization and a CPA. Also I worked for a CPA firm for 8 months. Now I am planning to work for government or industry. Do the internships and non-CPAs count to get the CPA experience or only the CPA firm experience count? Any comments will be more than helpful.


    @Shwetha28 Depending on your personal timeframe for this, it might be worth pursuing the non-public experience. You can still qualify in CA with non-public, provided you jump through the additional hoops. If you're opposed to public, just make it part of your non-public job search. As you evaluate companies, you should be able to communicate what you're trying to accomplish and find out whether your supervisor would be a licensed CPA. For reference, I have a B.S. in mathematics, started as an A/P clerk 10 years ago doing data entry, and became a senior accountant at a large multi-national 7 years ago on experience alone. After 4 years I moved into financial management, and away from accounting. The CPA, for me, is to eliminate a barrier to senior management, but I don't see the lack of it to be a hindrance in industry at the staff level. There are definitely benefits to public, but I suspect those benefits decrease as one ages.

    @betovich I think the states have different experience requirements. Both CA and MA have sections in their licensing regulations detailing what sorts of professional experience qualify. You would have to research your state's regulations to identify what that board would be willing to accept.

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    @Radez This is what HI states: HRS section 466-5 requires an Applicant to have: (a) 1500 chargeable hours in the performance of audits involving the application of generally accepted accounting principles and auditing standards earned while in public accounting practice; (b) two years of professional experience in public accountancy practice; provided that equivalent experience in private or government accounting or auditing work or education may be substituted for all or part of the two years of professional experience in public accountancy practice; or (c) any combination thereof.

    Should i infer that it is possible?

    My new accounting Specialist purpose is to establish the financial status by development and implementing systems for collecting, analyzing, verifying, and reporting financial information

    Look forward to reading your commments!


    I want to know that private company experience under cpa for cpa license requirement is good or need to work in public accounting firm only?


    @She Check with your state. Many state only said “experience under a CPA”, so if you run into a CPA in India and he / she is willing to certify you, then it's fine. There's actually a lot of CPA working in foreign country, mainly in big companies that have business dealing with the US. In addition, under the very special foreign CPA-equivalent rule, for five specific countries, you can obtain a CPA license if you pass the exam or is already a “CPA” in that country…

    There are many ways to get a license. If you are fresh graduate, your one year of OPT will be just enough to get yourself a license within the time frame (assuming you find a job right at graduation). Else, accounting firm / law firm / big international business firms will be your best bet. Non-profit, educational industries, and research organization will be your last heaven because they are sponsor-exempted. (Note: Subject to change under current administration).

    and to the rest – Check with your state. In most state, it doesn't matter if it is public, private, non-profit. It only matters if you work in public accounting as a CPA, because many state (like NY), will require all public accounting CPA to file additional paperwork (subject to the conflict of interest, SEC and three /five years rotation rule).

    If you work in the government, it's a whole different story. Some state / city / county have civil service exam system and that's the only thing that rank you on. Getting a license or not only matters in terms of “minimum qualifications”, which is usually a combination of degree, years of experience, and license. If you pass the exam and work there for about 40 years, your retirement salary will likely to be $150K. There's very few exam-exempt position, like working at the city hall / political office / confidential office (FBI), or if you are a CEO / CFO level. Most big cities have this kind of system.

    NY - License Approved December 2020.
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