How to Become an Accountant or CPA in Mississippi

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What is Accounting?

To become a CPA in Mississippi, licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy, requires not only passing the Uniform CPA Exam, but going through at least one year of practical accounting experience prior to licensure. It also requires evidence of possessing good moral character.

As a general term, accounting refers to the process of analyzing financial data so that it is easy to understand for all stakeholders and shareholders. A shareholder is someone who owns stock in a given company, whether they are individuals, companies, or organizations. Stockholders or mutual fund investors must own a minimum of one share in a company in order to be considered partial owners. An accountant's main responsibility is to record and report a company's financial transactions, performance, and cash flows.

Organizations rely on accounting to keep a systematic record of their financial information. By comparing current financial information with historical information, users can make informed decisions. A company's performance can be evaluated over time by having consistent, accurate, and full records.

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Online Accounting Education in Mississippi

To become a CPA in Mississippi, those who have earned a bachelor’s degree and received at least 120 semester hours of college credit may apply to take the Uniform CPA Exam. The educational hours were lowered from 150 to 120 as of July, 2016. Those hours must include a minimum of 48 semester hours in either upper division or graduate level accounting and business-related courses.

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Accounting courses per se must account for at least 24 of the 48 hours and must include a minimum of three semester hours in:

  • Auditing
  • Financial Accounting
  • Government/Not-for-Profit Accounting
  • Management/Cost Accounting
  • Taxation

Educational institutions and classes must be recognized by the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy (MSBPA).

  • Residency requirement
    Mississippi has a residency requirement for potential CPAs. The person must either live in the state or have a place of business in Mississippi in order to take the Uniform CPA Exam and receive a license as a Mississippi CPA.

Online Associate Degree in Accounting (AS)

This two-year program gives you the skills you need to work as an assistant to an accountant in a private company, non-profit, or government agency. You may be able to gain access to entry-level accounting positions which can provide you with useful experience in the field. To start your preparation for the Mississippi CPA exam, consider a student membership in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA.) That will help you prepare for the CPA exam while also introducing you to many terrific peers and mentors in the accounting profession.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Accounting (BS)

A bachelor’s degree in accounting will challenge you but will put you on track to take and pass the CPA exam. You’ll learn the required accounting skills needed for an entry-level position in a public accounting office and be ready for promotion into higher level positions. You may even be able to lead a department, such as payroll, in smaller companies with this degree and on the job training.

Online Master's Degree in Accounting (MS)

A Master of Accountancy provides that vital fifth year of education in the accounting field, which the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) recommends. A bachelor’s degree usually does not include enough credits to allow you to take the CPA exam, so a master’s is an easy way to earn those credits and add to your resume, even if you don’t have an accounting position yet.

PhD Degree in Accounting (PhD)

This program requires you to take 15 hours in research-tool courses, which helps to prepare you for a research career in accounting. It may also be an excellent choice for those who are interested in getting into an academic position with a focus in accounting.

Online Degree in Accounting (Online)

You may be able to find an MAcc degree program offered solely online for students who want to work in public or private accounting agencies. Accounting degrees work well in an online format because there are no specific requirements for hands on learning, instead you mostly work with forms and numbers to ensure you understand what you need to. A fully accredited online accounting degree program will prepare you to take and pass the CPA exam.

Mississippi CPA Exam Requirements

If you have acquired the necessary number of semester hours and have received a bachelor’s degree, you may arrange to take the CPA exam. In Mississippi, the Uniform CPA Exam is conducted in either Jackson or Tupelo. You must fill out the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy's Application for the CPA Examination. When sending in your application, include a 2’ by 2” photo of yourself, a copy of your current driver’s license and proof of state residency.

Such proof includes:

  • Voter registration card
  • Mississippi state resident income tax return
  • Vehicle tags or registration
  • Proof of payment of Mississippi real estate taxes
  • Copy of Mississippi homestead rebate qualification
  • Transcript of graduation from a Mississippi college or university

Your college or university should send your transcript directly to the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy, at 5 Old River Place, Suite 104, Jackson, MS 39202-3449. You must also send all application fees to this address.

Once you have sent in all the necessary documentation and fees, you should receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). The NTS arrives via the way you indicated, either by email, fax or regular mail. Visit the Prometric website to schedule your test or call the Candidate Services Call Center toll-free at 800-580-9648. Appear at the test site one hour before your scheduled exam time. Your CPA exam scores will arrive in the mail.

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Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Requirements

CPAs licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy must complete 40 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) annually. Newly licensed CPAs are exempt from the requirement for the first year after receiving their license. CPAs may carry over up to 20 CPE hours from one year to the next.

Of those 40 CPE hours, at least eight (20 percent) must involve accounting and auditing. Four of the hours must be in Ethics, Professional Conduct and Public Accountancy Laws and Regulations. Report your annual hours on the Continuing Professional Education Reporting Form, even if your hours did not reach the required minimum. In fact, you must report CPE hours even if the annual total is zero.

  • Approved CPE formats

    Approved CPE hours are available in various formats. These include:

    • University and college credit courses – one semester hour equals 15 CPE credits
    • University and college non-credit courses – one semester hour equals one CPE credit
    • Formal self-study programs approved by NASBA’s Quality Assurance Services
    • Organized, formal in-house training programs
    • Service as an instructor, discussion leader or lecturer
    • Publishing books or articles contributing to CPA professional competence
    • For CPAs who are also licensed and practicing attorneys, continuing legal education counts toward CPE credit.

    Please note that personal development programs and independent study that requires only reading do not qualify as approved CPE formats.

  • CPE record keeping
    Keep a record of your CPE hours for at least five years, per the requirements of the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy. The information should include the location of the course and the organization sponsoring it, along with the attendance dates, name of instructors and their qualifications, the number of hours per category, the title and description of the courses and the number of CPE hours you’ve claimed.
  • CPA retirement or disability
    Those CPAs who are at least 55 years old may file for a retired status at the time of their annual renewal. Such individuals must fill out the appropriate forms and can no longer practice as CPAs but may use the title “CPA retired.” A CPA who has become permanently disabled may apply for permanent disability status at the time of license renewal. The licensee’s physician must provide a written statement indicating the licensee is no longer able to perform the activities required of a CPA by the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy and must detail the disability.

Become an Accountant in Mississippi

After passing the exam, CPA candidates must spend at least one year of full-time accounting experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA in Mississippi, though out-of-state licensees also qualify. The equivalent of one year of full-time work, such as two years of half-time work, is acceptable. The experience is either paid or voluntary. Only those who have undergone this experience within the prior five years may apply for a licensure application.

The experience must include the following:

  • Preparing tax returns
  • Providing tax advice
  • Financial advisory services
  • Consulting
  • Management advisory services
  • Issuing financial statement reports.

Getting Your CPA License in Mississippi

Once you have passed the Uniform CPA Exam and have the necessary experience under your belt, you may apply for licensure as a Mississippi CPA. You have three years from the initial passing of the CPA exam until applying for licensure. Begin by filling out the Application for CPA License from the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy. The application requires notarization. Along with the application, include in your packet all necessary fees, a 2” x 2” photo of yourself, your proof of residency and all your previous accounting employment. You must fill out and include a Request for Employment Verification for each of your supervisors. The completed package is mailed to the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy.

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First-time and reinstatement applications for CPAs includes a background check to assure the applicant is of “good moral character.”

  • Reciprocal CPA licenses

    If you are licensed in another state with qualifications equivalent to those in Mississippi, it is possible to receive a reciprocal CPA license if you have spent four out of last 10 years practicing public accounting as a licensed CPA. Currently, the certifications and licenses of all U.S. states and territories with the exception of the Virgin Islands is considered equivalent to the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy. Complete the Application for Reciprocal CPA License and send it the board of the state in which your license is held. The application is returned to you once the state licensing board fills out the appropriate sections, and you must then have the document notarized in Mississippi. You must also fill out the Request for Employment Verification for every previous supervisor over the past decade and send them with the application. Complete the Authorization for Interstate Exchange of Examination and Licensure Information to the Board in the state in which you hold your CPA license or where you passed the Uniform CPA Exam. Send the completed paperwork and applicable fees to the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy.

Careers for Accounting Graduates

  • Bachelor of Science/Arts in Business Administration – Accounting Concentration
    BA business administration degree will require you to take professional business courses plus you’ll learn plenty from the accounting concentration. Your courses might cover federal income tax accounting, advanced and intermediate accounting, government/non-profit accounting, and auditing. The combination of business and accounting courses will perfectly prepare you to take the CPA exam, which requires both.
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with CPA Concentration
    This degree helps you to prepare for both accounting and finance careers. The CPA concentration makes you much more attractive to future employers and will prepare you for advancement within your current company or a switch into a company where you can flourish.
  • Financial Accountant
    Working in this specialization means you help your employer keep their business financially healthy. You’ll carry out a wide range of functions as you work to keep the company’s finances in the positive. You may oversee payroll, spending, income, and teach your employer the financial information they need to know if there is something they don’t understand. Prepare to spend long days at your desk.
  • General Accountant
    In your role, you’ll oversee financial records and documents so you can complete tasks such as putting together profit statements, financial reports, create budgets, and completed tax returns. In your position, you may work for a firm that contracts with several businesses or you may choose to work as an independent contractor.
  • Mississippi Average Accountant Salary

    Mississippi is a big player in the U.S. agricultural industry, which opens the doors for many of the accountants and auditing jobs in the state. Agriculture is the most profitable industry in Mississippi, with Tyson Foods setting headquarters and providing jobs to a large number of people within the state, including accountants and financial specialists. In the southern part of the state, coastal tourism fuels industry in the Biloxi area, with visitors taking advantage of the riverboat tours and casinos. Accountants working in this region earn some of the highest annual accounting salaries in the state, banking an average income of $42,800 per year. However, the Jackson area has the best job potential, with accounting jobs making up nearly eight of every 1000 positions held.

    City Annual Median Wage
    Gulfport-Biloxi Area $42,800
    Hattiesburg $44,200
    Jackson $51,400
    NE MS Area -
    SW MS Area -
    Entry Level Mid Career Late Career
    $45,500 $42,500 $60,600
    • Mississippi Average Cost Estimator Salary: $52,000
    • Mississippi Average Auditor Salary: $54,700
    • Mississippi Average Budget Analyst Salary: $47,900
    • Mississippi Average Credit Analyst Salary: $40,000
    • Mississippi Average Financial Analyst Salary: $54,500
    • Mississippi Average Personal Financial Advisor Salary: $63,000
    • Mississippi Average Financial Examiner Salary: $50,400
    • Mississippi Average Tax Examiner, Collector, or Revenue Agent Salary: -
    • Mississippi Average Tax Preparer Salary: $57,000
    • Mississippi Average Actuary Salary: -
    • Mississippi Average Forensic Science Technician Salary: $65,500
    • Mississippi Average Payroll and Timekeeping Clerk Salary: $45,300

Mississippi Accounting Frequently Asked Questions

Are internships required for Bachelor of Accounting programs?

At this level, an internship is recommended, but not required. However, at some universities, the Master of Accounting programs have been designed to allow time for students to participate in internships. Internship courses are also offered, so students can take these courses once they have finished their 8- to 10-week internships.

Can you land an accounting job after earning a degree in finance?

Yes. One of the best degrees to open doors for you into the accounting world is a degree in finance. The curriculum in this degree helps you to learn some of the principles of accounting, marketing, management, and banking. Another program that lends itself well to an accounting career is managerial finance.

Will I be able to earn my accounting degree totally online?

Yes. A fully online accounting degree program will be just as challenging as the face-to-face version and is equally as accepted by employers. You’ll gain all of the knowledge and skills you need to work in an accounting position. In fact, some online degree programs are devised to allow you to custom design you program specifically to prepare for a certain career.

What is the average annual salary for a CPA?

If you earn CPA licensure, their expected average annual salary is $67,000. At the beginning of your career, it’s closer to $49,000 and at your mid-career point, this rises to $112,000. Your responsibilities might include taking care of the accounting for individual clients, governments, or corporations, as well as tax, reporting, and auditing processes.

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