Becoming a CPA in Illinois 2024: The Ultimate Guide

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How to Become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Illinois

If you’re looking to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Illinois, you’re in the right place. As a CPA, you’ll be recognized as an expert in accounting and finance, and you’ll have the opportunity to work in various industries in Illinois. The path to becoming a CPA may seem challenging. Still, with the right information and resources, you can successfully navigate to a rewarding experience and start an LLC in Illinois in the accounting profession.

At LLCBase, we understand that forming a business can be an overwhelming experience, so we are here to help you every step of the way. In this article, we’ll cover the benefits of becoming a CPA in Illinois, the steps you need to take to achieve this prestigious designation, and some helpful information to guide you on how to become a CPA in Illinois. By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to starting Illinois LLC and becoming a valuable asset to businesses and individuals.

What is a CPA

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a highly trained professional in accounting who has met specific education, experience, and examination requirements. CPAs provide various services, including auditing, tax preparation, financial planning, and business consulting. They are held to the highest ethical standards and are trusted by businesses and individuals to provide sound financial advice.

Why Become a CPA in Illinois

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Illinois certainly comes with its enticing perks, one of which is higher earning potential. CPAs are often rewarded with significantly higher compensation than their non-certified counterparts, reflecting their specialized knowledge and skills. This financial benefit is particularly valuable in Illinois, where the cost of living can be relatively high. Moreover, CPAs often have more career advancement opportunities, as the designation is frequently seen as a prerequisite for leadership roles in accounting and finance.

Job security is another salient benefit of becoming a CPA in Illinois. Despite the economic fluctuations, the demand for CPAs remains consistently strong. Every business, regardless of its size or industry, needs the expertise of CPAs to navigate through complex tax laws, perform audits, and manage financial operations. Besides, the advent of technology and evolving financial landscape only heighten the relevance of CPAs, as their analytical skills and strategic insights are valuable in adapting to these changes.

Finally, CPA is a highly respected profession in Illinois. The intensity and rigor of the CPA exam, coupled with the strict ethical guidelines that CPAs must adhere to, ensure that only qualified professionals earn this esteemed designation. A CPA’s ability to guide businesses and individuals through the intricate world of taxes and finances is highly appreciated by the business community. Financial transparency, tax compliance, and strategic financial planning are critical to running a successful business or managing personal finances. As a CPA in Illinois, you would be adequately equipped to provide these services, making you an invaluable asset in the business community.

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4 Steps to Become a CPA in Illinois

Here are the essential steps to become a certified public accountant in Illinois.

Step 1: Understanding the CPA Licensing Requirements

Each state, including Illinois, has its own set of specific requirements for becoming a Certified Public Accountant. These requirements are established by the respective state’s Board of Accountancy, which ensures that all licensed CPAs meet the necessary standards of education, experience, and knowledge. To verify the requirements in Illinois, it’s essential to visit the Illinois Board of Accountancy website and thoroughly review the information provided.

The licensing requirements in Illinois typically cover three main areas:

  • Education: Most states, including Illinois, require aspiring CPAs to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Additionally, some states may require several semester hours in specific subjects, such as business law, finance, or taxation. A master’s degree or additional coursework may be necessary to fulfill the educational requirements.
  • Experience: Practical work experience is another crucial aspect of the CPA licensing process. In Illinois, you’ll likely need to gain one to two years of relevant experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. This hands-on experience allows you to apply the knowledge and skills you’ve gained through your education to real-world situations, preparing you for success in your career as a CPA.
  • Exam: The Uniform CPA Examination is a comprehensive, four-part test that all aspiring CPAs must pass to become licensed. The examination costs $879.08 (4 exam sections) + $120 application fee in Illinois. The exam covers auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting, and regulation. Each state, including Illinois, may have specific rules regarding the time frame for passing all four sections and any additional exams or ethics courses that may be required.
  • Other requirements: In Illinois, to be a licensed CPA, you must submit all CPA licensure information.

Step 2: Pursue Your Education and Gain Valuable Experience

To become a CPA in Illinois, completing the necessary education and gaining relevant work experience is essential. These steps will help you meet the licensing requirements and ensure you have the knowledge and skills to excel in your career as Illinois CPA.

  1. Obtain your bachelor’s degree: The foundation of your journey to becoming a CPA in Illinois lies in obtaining a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, such as finance or business administration. This degree will provide a solid understanding of core accounting principles and practices and a broad business background.
  2. Consider additional coursework or a master’s degree: Depending on the specific requirements of Illinois, you may need to complete additional coursework or pursue a master’s degree in accounting or a related field. This advanced education can help you meet the licensing requirements and enhance your knowledge and expertise in specialized areas of accounting, making you a more competitive candidate in the job market.
  3. Gain practical work experience: In addition to your education, it’s crucial to gain hands-on experience in accounting to meet the credit-hour requirement, which is 150 hours in many, but not all, states. Typically, Illinois requires aspiring CPAs to complete one to two years of practical experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. This experience can be obtained through internships, co-op programs, or full-time employment. It will allow you to apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve gained in your studies to real-world situations.
  4. Network and build connections: As you complete your degree and gain experience, it’s important to network with professionals in the accounting field. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with classmates, professors, and potential employers. Building a strong network can help you gain valuable insights, advice, and opportunities to become a CPA in Illinois.

Step 3: Pass the CPA Exam

One of the most critical steps in becoming a CPA in Illinois is passing the Uniform CPA Examination, a rigorous and comprehensive test designed to assess your knowledge and skills in various areas of accounting. The CPA Exam is jointly administered by three organizations: the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), and Prometric, through a contractual agreement to ensure a consistent and high-quality testing experience for all candidates.

The CPA Exam consists of four distinct sections, each focusing on a different area of accounting expertise:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD): This section evaluates your understanding of the auditing process, including the principles and procedures used to assess the accuracy and reliability of an organization’s financial information.
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): In this section, you’ll be tested on your knowledge of the broader business environment, including corporate governance, economic concepts, financial management, and information technology.
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): This section covers the principles and practices of financial accounting, including preparing and analyzing financial statements and applying relevant accounting standards and regulations.
  • Regulation (REG): In the final section, you’ll be assessed on your understanding of federal taxation, business law, and professional ethics and responsibilities.

To pass the CPA Exam, you must score 75 or higher on the four sections within an 18-month window. This time frame ensures that you maintain a current and comprehensive understanding of the accounting field as you work towards your Illinois CPA license.

Step 4: Obtain Your Illinois CPA License

After successfully passing the CPA Exam and fulfilling Illinois’s experience requirements, you’re just one step away from becoming a fully licensed CPA in Illinois. This final step involves applying for your CPA license through the Illinois Board of Accountancy, which will review your application and verify that all requirements have been met.

To finalize your certification, follow these steps:

  1. Gather your documentation: Ensure you have all the necessary documentation before applying for your CPA license in Illinois. This may include proof of your education, exam scores, and verification of your work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. Remember that some states may require additional documentation, such as background checks, fingerprinting, or letters of recommendation.
  2. Complete any additional requirements: Depending on the specific regulations of the Illinois Board of Accountancy, you may need to complete additional requirements, such as an ethics exam or continuing professional education (CPE) courses. Check the board’s website for detailed information on any supplementary requirements in Illinois.
  3. Submit your application and fees: Once you have all your documentation and have met any additional requirements, you can submit your application for licensure to the Illinois Board of Accountancy. Be prepared to pay the applicable licensing fee of $200 initial license fee, $120 biennial renewal in Illinois, which can vary depending on the state.
  4. Await approval and license issuance: After submitting your application, the Illinois Board of Accountancy will review your materials and verify that you’ve met all the necessary requirements. Once approved, you’ll receive your CPA license, officially making you a Certified Public Accountant in Illinois.

Once you obtain your license, you begin your practice as a CPA or start a business in Illinois.

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Cost to Become a CPA in Illinois

Becoming a CPA in Illinois is a significant investment in your future, and it’s crucial to understand the various costs involved in the process. These expenses can vary based on factors such as education, CPA Exam fees, and licensing fees. By researching and budgeting for these costs, you can make informed decisions and avoid any financial surprises along your path to CPA licensure in Illinois.

  • Education Expenses: Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field is one of the most substantial expenses of becoming a CPA. Tuition fees can vary widely depending on the type of institution (public or private), location, and whether you qualify for financial aid or scholarships. Additionally, if your state requires further education, such as a master’s degree or additional coursework, you must budget for those expenses.
  • CPA Exam Fees: To sit for the CPA Exam, you must pay registration fees of $879.08 (4 exam sections) + $120 application fee in Illinois for the four sections (AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG). These fees can vary by state, and you should check with the Illinois Board of Accountancy for the exact amounts. Additionally, you may incur costs for study materials, review courses, or tutoring to help you prepare for the exam.
  • Licensing Fees: Once you’ve passed the CPA Exam and met the experience requirements, you must apply for your CPA license through the Illinois Board of Accountancy. This process typically involves paying an application fee of $200 initial license fee, $120 biennial renewal and, in some states, additional fees for background checks, fingerprinting, or other requirements.
  • Continuing Professional Education (CPE): As a licensed CPA in Illinois, you’ll be required to complete a certain number of CPE hours to maintain your license. These courses can vary in cost depending on the provider, subject matter, and format (in-person or online).

Advantages of Becoming a CPA

Here are the perks of becoming a CPA in Illinois:

  • Higher earning potential: One of the main advantages of becoming a CPA in Illinois is the potential for increased earnings. On average, CPAs earn significantly more than non-certified accountants due to their specialized expertise and qualifications. As Illinois CPA, you’ll be well-positioned to negotiate higher salaries and enjoy greater financial rewards throughout your career.
  • Job security: The demand for skilled CPAs remains consistently high across various industries, ensuring job stability for those with this prestigious designation. As businesses and individuals in Illinois continue to rely on the expertise of CPAs to navigate the complex world of finance and taxes, you can feel confident in your job security and long-term career prospects.
  • Professional recognition: The CPA designation carries significant weight in the accounting and finance industry, with those who have earned the title is highly respected by colleagues, clients, and employers alike. By becoming Illinois CPA, you’ll be recognized for your hard work and dedication and viewed as a trusted expert.
  • Flexibility and diverse career options: One of the most appealing aspects of becoming a CPA in Illinois is its flexibility in terms of career choices. CPAs can work in various industries and sectors, from public accounting firms to private corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. You can also start your own business in Illinois. This versatility allows you to explore different career paths and find the perfect fit for your interests and skills, making the CPA designation an invaluable asset in today’s ever-changing job market.

FAQs

What are the education requirements to become a CPA in Illinois?
Candidates need to have a bachelor’s degree, with a minimum of 150 credit hours of college education, including a major in accounting or business.
Do I need practical work experience to become a CPA in Illinois?
Yes, candidates need to have a minimum of 1 year of experience in public accounting or related areas.
Can an associate degree help me become a CPA in Illinois?
No, candidates need to have a bachelor’s degree or higher to meet the education requirements of the program.
How do I apply for the CPA exam in Illinois?
Candidates can apply for the CPA exam through the NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) portal.
What are the exam sections covered in the CPA exam in Illinois?
The CPA exam in Illinois covers four major sections – auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting, and regulation.
Can I take the CPA exam in Illinois, even if I’m not a resident?
Yes, candidates can apply to take the CPA exam in Illinois regardless of residency.
Is Illinois a member of NASBA?
Yes, Illinois is a member of NASBA.
How much are the CPA exam fees in Illinois?
The total CPA exam fees in Illinois may vary, but candidates usually pay for each section individually, with a cost ranging from $190 to $211.
What is the passing score for the CPA exam in Illinois?
The passing score for the CPA exam in Illinois is 75.
How long does it take to complete the CPA exam in Illinois?
Candidates must complete all four CPA exam sections within an 18-month period from their first test date.
How long does it take to become a CPA in Illinois?
It takes about 8-10 years to become a CPA in Illinois
How can I get work experience in Illinois?
Candidates can seek work experience at accounting firms, corporations, governmental agencies, or even start their own company.
Can I apply for my CPA license in Illinois without professional experience?
No, candidates need to have a minimum of 1 year of professional experience to apply for the CPA license in Illinois.
Is there a moral character requirement in Illinois for those looking to become a CPA?
Yes, candidates must pass a “Fit to Practice” investigation, which measures moral character and professional reputation.
Do I need to be in Illinois to practice as a CPA in the state?
No, candidates do not need to be present in Illinois to practice as a CPA in the state.
What educational documents are required when filing the application in Illinois?
The applicant must submit their official transcript(s) and a degree verification form when initially applying for the CPA exam in Illinois.
What is the cost for a CPA license in Illinois?
There is a $125 application fee and a $50 initial license fee in Illinois
Will an online degree program qualify for certification requirements in Illinois?
Yes, as long as the degree program is accredited by an accepted organization.
What are the requirements for CPE for certified CPAs in Illinois?
CPAs in Illinois must complete at least 120 credits of CPE every 3 years.
How long does it take for the CPA license application to be approved by Illinois?
It takes a minimum of six weeks to complete the Illinois CPA licensing process, but it may take up to 8-12 weeks if any additional documentation is required.
Will candidates receive practice exams when applying for the CPA exam in Illinois?
Candidates can purchase practice exams from the AICPA’s online portal.
How do I get a reciprocal CPA license in Illinois?
Candidates who currently hold a valid CPA license through another state, have a transferable CPA designation.
Can candidates apply for the CPA license and exam at the same time in Illinois?
Yes, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply for both the CPA license and exam at the same time in Illinois.
Is there any age limit concerns for taking the CPA exam in Illinois?
No age limit applies for taking the CPA exam in Illinois.
How long is the CPA exam in Illinois?
The total testing time for each section of the CPA exam in Illinois can vary, but has a maximum limit of 4 hours.
What CE requirements apply to CPAs in Illinois?
Continuing education subject matters are regulated by the License Act in the state.
How can I get finger printed when filing for Certification or a CPA license application in Illinois?
The fingerprint process happens during the registration for the Illinois Professional Accountancy Society skill-exam review course.
What do candidates need after passing the CPA exam in Illinois?
After passing the CPA exam, candidates may apply for certification in Illinois for the license issuance process to commence.
How can candidates obtain information about skills related to the Illinois CPA exam?
An applicant can visit the website of the Illinois CPA Society or local skill-exam review course for the required subjects related to the Illinois CPA exam.
What are the educational requirements to become a CPA in Illinois?
In Illinois, you need to have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in order to be eligible to become a CPA.
Do I need an accounting degree to become a CPA in Illinois?
No, you do not need an accounting degree specifically; however, Illinois requires that you have completed 24 semester hours of accounting courses as a part of your bachelor’s degree.
How many hours of accounting education are required to become a CPA in Illinois?
You need 24 semester hours of accounting courses to be eligible to take the CPA exam in Illinois.
Aside from accounting courses, what other education is required to become a CPA in Illinois?
You are also required to complete 24 semester hours of business courses outside of accounting, for a total of 150 semester hours.
In addition to education requirements, what experience is necessary to become a CPA in Illinois?
After completing your education requirements, you must also have at least 1 year of experience working in accounting or auditing under the direct supervision of a CPA.
Can I work as a CPA in Illinois without passing the CPA exam?
No, you must pass the CPA exam in order to be licensed as a CPA in Illinois.
How many times can I take the CPA exam in Illinois?
You can take each section of the CPA exam up to four times within an 18-month period.
How much does it cost to take the CPA exam in Illinois?
Each section of the CPA exam costs $209.80, for a total cost of $839.20 to take all four sections.
Are there any additional fees associated with becoming a licensed CPA in Illinois?
In order to be licensed as a CPA in Illinois, you must pay a $150 application fee, a $75 exam qualification fee, and a $1000 license fee.
How often is the CPA exam offered in Illinois?
The CPA exam is offered year-round in the US, but the availability of dates and times in Illinois will vary depending on demand.
How long does it take to receive my CPA Exam score results in Illinois?
It typically takes about 10-15 business days to receive your CPA Exam score after you take each section in Illinois.
What are the ethical requirements for becoming a CPA in Illinois?
To become a licensed CPA in Illinois, you must pass the professional ethics exam within 2 years of receiving your CPA exam scores.
What is the minimum age requirement for becoming a CPA in Illinois?
To become a CPA in Illinois, you must be at least 18 years old.
Are there any residency requirements to become a CPA in Illinois?
There are no residency requirements in Illinois to become a CPA.
Can I pursue my CPA license while working full-time in Illinois?
Yes, many individuals prepare for and take the CPA Exam while engaged in full-time employment.
Does Illinois have any reciprocity agreements with other states for CPA licensure?
Yes, Illinois has reciprocity agreements with most other states for CPA licensure.
If I become a CPA in another state, is my licensure recognized in Illinois?
Illinois recognizes reciprocal licensure from other states, but there may be additional requirements or steps you need to take to become licensed in Illinois.
Are there any continuing education requirements for CPAs in Illinois?
Yes, Illinois requires licensed CPAs to complete at least 120 hours of continuing professional education every three years.
How long is my CPA license valid in Illinois?
Your CPA license is valid in Illinois as long as you comply with the state’s continuing education requirements and any additional regulations.
What is the official governing body for CPA licensure in Illinois?
The Illinois Board of Examiners is responsible for regulating CPA licensure in Illinois.
Does Illinois have any CPA Exam prep courses available?
Yes, there are several CPA Exam prep courses available in Illinois from many providers.
Can I take the CPA Exam online in Illinois?
The CPA Exam is only available at licensed testing centers, not online.
How do I submit my CPA Exam application in Illinois?
You can submit your CPA Exam application online through the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).
What happens after my CPA licensure application is approved in Illinois?
After your application is approved, you will be able to take the professional ethics exam and then apply for your official CPA license.
What is the average salary for CPAs in Illinois?
The average CPA salary in Illinois is around $76,000 per year.
Are there opportunities for professional growth as a CPA in Illinois?
Yes, there are many opportunities for CPAs in a variety of industries, and there are many ways to advance in your career in Illinois.

Also Read

How to Save Money While Starting a Becoming Cpa in Illinois

One of the first things to consider when embarking on this journey is the cost of education. Obtaining a degree in accounting or finance is the first step towards becoming a CPA, and this can be a significant financial burden. To save money on tuition, consider starting at a community college or online program to fulfill basic education requirements before transferring to a four-year university. Additionally, look for scholarships, grants, or internships that can help offset the cost of tuition and textbooks.

After completing your education, the next step is to pass the CPA exam. This can be a costly process, as it requires purchasing study materials and paying exam fees. To save money while preparing for the exam, consider purchasing used study materials or utilizing online resources and practice tests. Additionally, carefully plan your study schedule to minimize the number of times you need to retake the exam, as each attempt comes with its own set of fees.

Once you have passed the CPA exam, you may choose to work for a public accounting firm or start your own practice. If you decide to go the entrepreneurial route, there are several ways to save money while building your practice. Consider operating out of a home office or shared workspace to minimize overhead costs. Utilize free or low-cost marketing strategies, such as social media and networking events, to attract clients without breaking the bank. Additionally, carefully budget your expenses and reinvest profits back into your business to ensure long-term success.

In addition to managing costs related to education and practice development, it is important to also be mindful of personal finances as you work towards becoming a CPA. Consider creating a budget to track your expenses and identify areas where you can cut back. Look for ways to save on everyday expenses, such as cooking meals at home, using public transportation, and canceling unnecessary subscriptions or memberships. By being proactive about managing your personal finances, you can free up more money to invest in your education and career.

Ultimately, becoming a CPA in Illinois is a challenging but rewarding endeavor that requires careful financial planning and discipline. By taking steps to save money on education, exam preparation, practice development, and personal expenses, you can achieve your goal of becoming a CPA without breaking the bank. Remember that every dollar saved is a dollar that can be reinvested in your future success as a licensed CPA. So, roll up your sleeves, put your financial knowledge to work, and watch your dreams of becoming a CPA in Illinois become a reality.

Conclusion

Becoming a CPA in Illinois is a challenging but rewarding process that requires dedication, hard work, and determination. By following the steps outlined in this article and staying committed to your goals, you’ll be well on your way to starting Illinois LLC and joining the ranks of highly respected professionals in the accounting industry.

As Illinois CPA, you’ll enjoy the benefits of increased earning potential, job security, and flexibility, as well as the satisfaction of helping businesses and individuals in The Prairie State community navigate the complex world of taxes and finances. So, don’t wait any longer – start your journey towards becoming a CPA in Illinois today! To find more valuable resources and guidance on this process, visit LLCBase and take advantage of the information available. Your future as a successful CPA in Illinois is just a click away!

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