Pursuing a CPA License in the USA: A Guide for Japanese Students

Posted on November 1, 2023 By Mathew Berg

A Certified Public Accountant license in the USA is a big deal. It's your ticket to working as a public accountant there, and it can help your career no matter where you are​​.

Lately, more and more students from Japan are heading to the USA to get this license. They mainly do it to improve their skills and have more job options​​.

This guide is here to help Japanese students understand the process of getting a CPA license in the USA. We'll go over what you need to do before you can take the CPA exam, like completing 150 semester hours of education to get the license​.

Through understanding the CPA in the USA for Japanese students requirements, this guide will make the journey to becoming a CPA easier.

Understanding the CPA License

A CPA in the USA showcases a high standard of competence in the accounting profession, achieved through meeting certain educational, examination, and experience criteria.

A state's board of accountancy issues this license and enables individuals to provide accounting services to the public.

A CPA signifies expertise and adherence to the profession's ethical standards, making it a sought-after credential in the financial sector​​.

Career Opportunities Available with a CPA License:

Having a CPA license opens up a myriad of career opportunities. Here are some of the avenues a CPA can venture into:

  • Tax Professionals: Assisting individuals or corporations with tax preparation and advice.
  • Auditors: Ensuring financial statements and operations comply with laws and regulations.
  • Chief Financial Officers (CFOs): Overseeing the financial operations of large corporations.
  • Public Accounting: Providing various services, including accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting.
  • Financial Advisors: Helping people and organizations with budgeting and investment strategies.

The license is often seen as a golden ticket to higher-level and unique career positions that may not be accessible otherwise. The breadth of career paths and the potential for higher earnings make the CPA license a valuable asset for individuals aiming for a prosperous career in accounting and finance.

Eligibility Criteria For Japanese Students For CPA Licensure in The US

Educational Requirements:

To qualify for the CPA in the USA, candidates must typically fulfill the 150-hour rule, which entails completing 150 semester hours of education. However, not all states require full semester hours to sit for the exam. 

For example, in California, candidates can take the exam with 120 units but need 150 units to obtain the license​​.

Experience Requirements:

The experience prerequisites for a CPA license vary across different states. Many states require at least one year of public accounting work experience. In contrast, others accept varying work experience in place of public accounting. 

Most states require candidates to accumulate at least two years of experience in public accounting before granting the CPA license​​.

Social Security Number Requirement and Alternatives:

Most states need a Social Security Number (SSN) for the CPA license, but some states, like New York and Illinois, don’t require an SSN​​.

How Does Credential Evaluation Organizations Help Japanese Students Get a CPA License?

Here are some of the ways credential evaluation organizations help Japanese students get a CPA license in the US:

Credential Evaluation Organizations

These entities are pivotal in the CPA transcript evaluation process, aiding Japanese students in pursuing a CPA license in the USA.

Assessment of Educational Credentials

They meticulously assess the Japanese educational credentials against the US education standards, determining students’ eligibility.

Translation to US Equivalent

Through a thorough CPA transcript evaluation, these organizations translate the attained education in Japan to its US equivalent.

Ensuring Eligibility

By confirming that the educational prerequisites for CPA licensure are met, they significantly ease the pathway for Japanese students toward achieving a CPA license in the USA.

Navigational Assistance

This evaluation is a significant step in assisting Japanese students in understanding and fulfilling the requisites to become a CPA in the USA.

The Examination Process

The Uniform CPA Examination is the gateway for individuals aspiring to become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in the USA. This exam assesses a candidate's knowledge and competencies required to practice public accounting​.

Breakdown of the Four Sections of the Exam:

The CPA exam comprises four distinct sections, each tailored to evaluate different skill sets:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD): This section covers the basics of auditing processes.
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): Here, candidates are tested on their understanding of the business environment and concepts.
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): This part assesses financial accounting and reporting knowledge.
  • Regulation (REG): This section evaluates business law and taxation knowledge.

Each section lasts four hours, and candidates can take them in any order within an 18-month window.

Preparing for the CPA Exam

Recommended Study Materials and Courses:

Various CPA exam review courses can supplement exam preparation alongside free online resources such as practice tests and quizzes.

Study Tips and Strategies:

  • Utilize proven study techniques.
  • Maintain regular study sessions to keep momentum.
  • Tailor your study plan to match your learning style​​.

Mastering English and Accounting Terminology:

Mastering english and accounting terminology is crucial for comprehending exam materials and enhancing global job opportunities, especially for Japanese students who might have pursued earlier education in Japanese.

Tips for Japanese Students

Developing English Skills:

  • For Japanese students, enhancing English skills is pivotal for CPA exam success and a flourishing career in global business settings, including Japan. 
  • Engage in language learning programs. 
  • Practice speaking with native English speakers.
  • Utilize resources like English for Accounting to improve terminology understanding.

Taking Advantage of the Resources Available to Prepare for the Exam:

Several platforms offer accessible and affordable resources for CPA exam preparation. Utilizing preparation websites can be beneficial to reinforce understanding and improve exam performance​.


  • Networking is essential for obtaining insights into the CPA profession and connecting with potential employers or mentors. 
  • Join professional organizations, engage in online communities, and attend industry events to build a robust professional network.

Final Words

Getting a CPA in the USA is a big step for Japanese students. It may seem challenging, but good study, understanding English, and using the right help make it an excellent chance for a bright future.

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