CPA Evolution in the US: Things You Should Know

Posted on December 22, 2022 By Mathew Berg

In recent years, technology has been changing at a rapid pace. As a result, different professions are being transformed as they incorporate advanced technology to improve their workflow and streamline their internal systems.

The world of accounting is no stranger to new technology. It is one of the most transformed industries as new and improved software improves the way accountants perform their respective jobs. It has also greatly changed the knowledge and skills that young professionals need to succeed in the accounting industry.

Keeping all of this in perspective, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) decided it was time to make some changes to the CPA Exam methodology. It is definitely the need of the hour to restructure CPA in the US, as it allows accounting students to have a better idea of what to expect, how to prepare, and the best way to succeed in their accounting profession.

Here is everything you should know about the CPA evolution in the US.

Understanding the New CPA in the US

After carefully reviewing feedback offered by more than 3,000 essential stakeholders, AICPA and NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) determined that it was time for some necessary updates. The two bodies studied licensure models of other professions and considered numerous options for updating the model before developing a licensure model for CPA. This is done to be responsive to stakeholder feedback and in hopes of propelling the accountancy profession further toward success.

The new model has a core plus licensure procedure. It starts with a solid core understanding of the basics of accounting, tax and technology, and auditing that all students are required to complete successfully. Then, the students will be allowed to choose their own discipline to develop deeper knowledge and insights. Regardless of which discipline you choose, you will be offered a full CPA licensure at the end, along with rights to any other CPA.

The main goals of the new CPA model are:

  • Enhancing public protection through accountancy candidates that have a thorough understanding of their profession and can deliver high-quality work.
  • Showing responsiveness to stakeholder feedback to build a robust core for accounting, tax and technology, and auditing knowledge.
  • Incorporating the realities of real-world accounting practice by ensuring that students have deep knowledge of one of the three core disciplines that form the pillars of accounting.
  • Providing flexibility and encouraging students to future-proof their accountancy profession as the field continues to evolve.

When Will the New CPA Licensure Model Be Applicable

AICPA, along with NASBA, decided to update CPA in the US with a new core plus discipline model by the start of 2024. This means that all students will be required to take the new exam by January 2024. This gives accountancy students plenty of time to understand the new licensure model and do their best to prepare for the upcoming exams.

It is important to keep in mind that the 18-month rule is effective for all exam sections, and no part is excluded. Also, if you're an international student hoping to work in the accountancy profession in the US, you will be required to provide a CPA exam foreign credential evaluation report to your form at the time of employment application. It is best to reach out to a reliable evaluation agency to get your reports sorted in time for applications and employment opportunities. ERES is among the best NACES members and can help you out!

What It Means

The proposed CPA exam model is expected to retain the four-section format. However, students are required to have knowledge of all three core principles. It is important to note that there are likely to be questions regarding technology infused throughout the three core sections.

Additionally, students will need to have a higher level of knowledge in one of the three primary disciplines. These are as mentioned below:

  • Business Analysis and Reporting (for accounting core students)
  • Information Systems and Controls (for auditing core students)
  • Tax Compliance (for tax core students)

For Educators

As an educator in accountancy, you will be required to play an important role in helping students with the new CPA model. You should do your best to learn about the background of the CPA evolution and try to benefit from different online resources to help your students prepare for their licensure. Most online resources are free and can be accessed by all faculty members, so make the most of them!

For Students

There has never been a better time for accountancy students ever, and if you're preparing to get your CPA license, you're in for a treat. With the role of CPA evolving, you will get the opportunity to take on different responsibilities that would have traditionally been reserved for more experienced employees. Moreover, with a CPA licensure under your belt, you can boast a deeper skill set and a higher level of competency with improved knowledge of new technologies.

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