How to Become a Licensed CPA in Iowa

iowa-cpa-requirementsIowa’s standards are similar to most other states that have adopted the 150 credit rules. In order to get licensed, you’ll have to complete 150 semester hours including certain courses. You do not, however, have to complete all 150 hours in order to take the exam. You can even sit for the test before you graduate!

Let’s take a look at what you need to do to take the exam and get licensed.

Iowa CPA Exam Requirements

In order to be eligible to sit for the exam in Iowa, candidates must meet the following personal qualifications and educational requirements.

  • No minimum age limit
  • Not required to be a US citizen
  • Not required to be an IA resident
  • Valid Social Security Number required
  • IA does participate in the International Examination Program

Educational Requirements to Sit

Iowa is pretty lenient on the pre-exam education requirements. An undergraduate or graduate degree in accounting or business is required. This is great for students because it gives them plenty of options to get the 120 credits required to sit. Here’s what you will need.

Bachelor’s or Graduate Degree in Accounting or Business including:

  • 24 credit hours in Accounting classes including financial accounting, auditing, and taxation.
  • 24 credit hours in General Business courses like Management, Marketing, and Law.

Any one of these degrees will meet the requirements to sit as long as the minimum 120 credit hours are fulfilled. The last 30 credit hours can be taken after you pass the exam.

IA also provides a provision to take the exam before you graduate as long as you are 120 days from graduation and/or from completing the minimum qualifications.

Exam Fees

The total cost to take the CPA exam in Iowa is $874.08 including an initial one-time $145 application fee. The cost for each section is listed below.


AUD – Audit $192.03
FAR – Financial Accounting and Reporting $192.03
BEC – Business Environment and Concepts $172.51
REG – Regulation $172.51


The fees are typically based on the duration of the exam. That’s why the longer exam section like FAR and AUD cost the most than the other sections.

IMPORTANT – Don’t get excited and register for all the sections at once. Your NTS or notice to schedule is only valid for six months. This means it will expire and you will have to re-register. Unfortunately you will have to pay to register again. Re-registration application fees are $70 for one section and vary depending on how many your sign up for at once, so only sign up for the exams that you are ready to sit for in the next 6 months.

Registration Fees

Here is the breakdown for the registration fees you will have to pay. As you can see, registering more exams at once will save you some money.

  • 1 section $70.00
  • 2 sections $85.00
  • 3 sections $100.00
  • 4 sections $115.00

CPA License Requirements

You might be thinking that just taking the exam is a huge process. You’re right, but it’s only the first step in becoming a CPA in IA. After you pass the exam, there are a few administrative things you must do before you can truly call yourself a Certified Public Accountant. Here is the basic process.

Pass the Exam

You’ll have to pass all four sections of the exam with a score of at least 75 in an 18-month period.


Submit all the required paperwork to the state board usually includes transcripts, license application, and proof of work experience.


Pay the $100 license/certification fees with your application.

Ethics Exam

Take and pass the AICPA Professional Ethics exam (found on the AICPA website)

Additional Education

After you have passed the exam (or before) you will need to complete the 150 credit hour requirements.

150 college credit hours including:

  • 24 credit hours in Accounting
  • 24 credit hours in General Business

Keep in mind that your college credits must come from an accredited university. Otherwise, your State Board will not accept them as part of your CPA license requirements.

Work Experience Requirements

Iowa offers a few different ways to meet your work qualifications. Here are the options.

1-year of general accounting experience in Public Accounting, Governmental Accounting, Private Industry under the supervision of a current CPA


24 credit hours of teaching experience in qualified accounting subjects at an accredited school


If you are looking to get certified with an attest license, you will also need to add another year of experience under working in public accounting performing attest services under a qualified CPA.

More Iowa CPA Exam Resources

The entire process of applying, taking the exam, and sending your paperwork can be quite an involved, especially if you attended more than one college. Since you have to show proof of your education, you’ll have to send in transcripts from every college you’ve attended. This can be a pain.

This whole process can be kind of confusing, especially because you rarely get feedback from the state board. Many times you don’t know if they even received any of your application information. I think it’s important to contact the state board directly to see what they already have on file and more importantly what they need to complete your application.

For example, sometimes the state doesn’t receive your test scores from Prometrics. Unfortunately, state boards will rarely contact you and say something is missing. It’s a good idea to contact them directly to confirm they have everything they need.

Here is the contact info for the state board.

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