How to Become an Accountant or CPA in New Jersey

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What is Accounting?

The road to become a Certified Public Accountant CPA is not an easy one. Since the Certified Public Accountant licensure is one of the most difficult to attain, you will want to be diligent with the process from start to finish. Every state has unique requirements for becoming a CPA, and it's not easy to maintain your license, either. If you think that becoming a CPA is for you, please bookmark this page to ensure that you are up-to-date on the application process.

To become a Certified Public Accountant CPA, you need to obtain a bachelor's degree in accounting and complete the experience requirements. After you complete your education, you will need to take the CPA exam to become a certified public accountant CPA. When you pass the CPA state boards exam in your state, you will become a certified public accountant. Becoming a CPA is challenging but rewarding. Here’s a guide to what can expect in the process of becoming a licensed CPA in New Jersey.

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Online Accounting Education in New Jersey

Your academic career is a huge and necessary part of your Certified Public Accountant CPA license application. You should make high marks on every assignment and strive to take the most challenging and informative courses available. Further, you need to satisfy the full academic requirements of the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy.

New Jersey has stringent requirements for its licensure. They also have high standards when you apply to sit for the CPA Exam. The Board asks that you complete your 120 credit hours baccalaureate degree and then 30 more credit hours, for a total of 150 credit hours before you can either apply for the exam or your license. Note that this is a new requirement that took effect July 1, 2017.

Your transcripts should reflect certain coursework, as well. If your college or university was a Level 2 AACSB- or ACBSP accredited institution, New Jersey's Board requires a minimum of 24 credit hours in accounting and another 24 credit hours in general business courses. If your academic institution was a Level 1 AACSB- or ACBSP accredited institution, the Board requires a minimum of 30 credit hours in accounting and 24 credit hours in business courses.

Your accounting courses can include, but are not limited to:

  • Management accounting
  • Taxation
  • Audits
  • Financial accounting

Your general business coursework can include, but is not limited to:

  • Business law
  • Management
  • Finance
  • Business organization
  • Statistics
  • Mathematics
  • Computer science
  • Business ethics
  • Business communication
  • Accreditation

    The Board is not only interested in the quantity of your coursework, but also its quality. Your college or university should be fully accredited to ensure that you receive an education that is acknowledged by the Board, as well as elsewhere in the professional community.

    The New Jersey Board recognizes academic credits that are accredited by the following agencies:

    • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
    • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools--Higher Learning Commission
    • New England Association of Schools and Colleges--Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
    • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
    • Western Association of Schools and Colleges--Commission for Senior Colleges
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools--Commission on Colleges
    • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
    • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

Associate Degree in Accounting (AS)

Budding accountants are wise to start their academic careers with a two-year associate degree in accounting. Not only do community colleges have lower tuition rates, but the degree can help them establish a foothold in the industry.

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Bachelor's Degree in Accounting (BS)

A four-year degree is an ideal springboard into accounting. In New Jersey it qualifies candidates for the CPA Exam, plus the next step is a master's degree in business or accounting.

Master's Degree in Accounting (MS)

A master's degree in business or accounting will enable you to reach the C-suites, top salaries, and the most exciting positions.

PhD Degree in Accounting (PhD)

Though this degree is mostly reserved for those who wish to pursue a career in academia or research, accounting firms would love to have such a highly credentialed professional on their roster.

Online Degree in Accounting (Online)

Distance learning is more prevalent than ever before. Online degrees in accounting yield the same outcomes as traditional campus degrees and are many times more accessible to working accountants, no matter what level degree you are looking to earn.

New Jersey CPA Exam Requirements

In New Jersey, you must have completed 150 credit hours of college coursework from an accredited institution prior to applying to sit for the CPA Exam. To verify your academic work for the Board, you must send them official transcripts, not copies. You can send official copies yourself, but they must be in sealed envelopes from your college. Alternately, you can have your academic institution send the records directly, which is often a more efficient method.

You can have all official transcripts sent to:

New Jersey Coordinator
P.O. Box 198469
Nashville, TN

You must then remit your application, including all applicable fees, to CPA Exam Services (CPAES) in Nashville, TN. Once you have been approved, NASBA will send you a Notice to Schedule. Their notice will come to you in the format you sent your application. If you applied via email, the notice will be emailed, etc.

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With your notice in hand, you will then contact a New Jersey Prometric center. There are sites in:

  • Clark
  • Laurel Spring
  • Hamilton

Please consult the Prometric website for an updated list.

  • Four exam sections

    There are four parts to the CPA Exam. You must pass all four to pass the CPA Exam. Since each is a thorough exam, you will want to prepare for them separately. The four parts are: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).

    You will have four hours to complete each section of the test. The parts are comprised of between 66 and 76 multiple choice questions, 4-8 task-based questions, and the BEC portion includes 3 written communications.

    The breakdown is:

    • Auditing and Attestation: 72 multiple-choice questions and 8 task-based simulations
    • Financial Accounting and Reporting: 66 multiple-choice questions and 8 simulations
    • Business Environment and Concept: 62 multiple-choice questions, 4 simulations, and 3 written items
    • Regulation: 76 multiple-choice questions and 8 task-based simulations

    Make sure you study hard for each portion. It is difficult to pass the CPA exam. The pass/fail rate is nearly 50/50. Consider these passing rates from 2017:

    Auditing and Attestation 48.5%
    Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) 53%
    Financial Accounting and Reporting 44.4%
    Regulation 47.2%

Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Requirements

Once you have attained your CPA license, you will have a lifetime of learning still ahead of you. New Jersey requires its CPAs to renew their licenses every three years. To keep your license current, you will need to complete 120 hours of CPE credit every triennial period. This period must also include an ethics course from an approved CPE provider. Note that New Jersey has a specific breakdown for your coursework.

The state requires that you take 72 CPE hours in profession-specific courses, such as:

  • Economics
  • Accounting
  • Mathematics
  • Regulatory practices
  • Computer science
  • Taxation
  • Audits

The balance of your coursework should be in related subjects that enhance your professional life.

A few examples are:

  • Public speaking
  • Human resources
  • Organizational psychology
  • Business communications
  • Management
  • Leadership

New Jersey offers the option for you to take courses in-person or online. Courses are offered by professional organizations, at industry conferences, and through local colleges and universities. The New Jersey Society of Public Accountants, for instance, is an association the Board has approved to administer your Ethics exam. You might find some other professional association to join, as well. The AICPA, for instance, will offer CPE opportunities, and there are always regional and national conferences that feature seminars that will count towards the CPE requirement.

Become an Accountant in New Jersey

The next aspect of your road to the Certified Public Accountant CPA license is an experience portion. Since the exam is quite difficult for many to pass on the first try, you might start working under a licensed Certified Public Accountant while you study for the exam. Your college or university may be able to help you find an appropriate mentor so that your experience is focused on licensure. Many accounting firms will be happy to provide this service, as it benefits the profession, but also because you might continue working for them as a newly licensed professional.

New Jersey requires that you complete one full year of experience practicing public accounting under the supervision of a licensed Certified Public Accountant CPA. During that year you must work 1,750 hours to satisfy the requirement. If, however, you are working part-time you still must complete the hours requirement but within a minimum two years.

There are three general areas in which you will work: public accountancy, government, and private industry. Under each, there are specific skills you must exercise. Make sure you log your time performing each sort of duty so that your supervisor can sign off on it later.

Your experience might include, but not be limited to:

  • Public accountancy
    • Auditing and Accountancy
    • Taxation
    • Management services
    • Bookkeeping
  • Government
    • General accounting
    • Apply audit procedures
    • Field audits – for state tax returns
    • Internal Revenue Service – field agent
  • Private industry
    • Internal audits
    • Prepare financial statements
    • Budgets, plans, or projections
    • Prepare trial balances
    • Evaluate inventories
    • Maintain ledgers
    • Taxation

Once you have completed the time necessary to satisfy the Board, you must prepare a document that describes your experience. Have your supervisor sign and notarize this document, on company letterhead, and mail it to the Board for inclusion in your application packet. Mail the letter to:

New Jersey national association of State Boards of Accountancy
124 Halsey St.
6th Floor
Newark, NJ 07102

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Prior to beginning the experiential portion of your CPA licensure process, you might consider taking the state-required Ethics exam. Potential employers will appreciate your proactive approach and you'll have taken care of one more part of the licensure process. To learn more and to register for a class, NJCPA is a Board approved sponsor.

Getting Your CPA License in New Jersey

Obtaining a CPA license in New Jersey involves education, experience, examination(s), and an ethics exam. You must complete 150 credit hours from an accredited college or university, one year of work experience with a licensed CPA, and also pass an ethics exam.

Along the way, you must also pay any applicable fees. Taking the CPA exam carries fees for every testing session, and simply applying to take the test is not free.

Careers for Accounting Graduates

  • Forensic Accountancy
    This is the ideal degree and career for those accountants who love crunching numbers and also chasing bad guys. Forensic accountants uncover money laundering, tax fraud, and other nefarious schemes that harm our financial systems and national institutions. They also work with civil attorneys to help civil litigants receive what is rightfully theirs.
  • Non-Profit or Government Accounting
    Even though these organizations don't pay taxes they do need to balance their books and provide filings for the IRS. Non-profit organizations can only maintain their tax exempt status if they manage their funds properly, and that's where an accountant can help. Accountants in these sorts of organizations also help create and maintain effective budgets.
  • Tax Accountant
    Everyone must pay taxes, it's one of the constants in life. Tax accountants work with individuals and businesses to help with their quarterly or annual filings. Some tax accountants start out with jobs in the IRS and then move into the private sector once they have a full mastery of the tax code. Keep in mind that, to defend their client’s tax filings to the IRS, an accountant must have a Certified Public Accountant license.
  • Consultant
    Accountants who work as consultants spend a lot of time on the road. Most consultants must have their Certified Public Accountant CPA certification or license, and a graduate degree also helps. This position often involves a great deal of travel, but the payoff is a varied and interesting professional life.

New Jersey Average Accountant Salary

New Jersey is one of the most ideal locations for accountants and auditors in the country. Jobs in the industry are easy to come by, since many businesses and banks call the Garden State call home. Statewide, more than nine of every thousand jobs are in the accounting industry, with areas near New York City reaching as high as 13.5 jobs per 1000. Trenton, the state capital, also has a high concentration of accountants, with an average of 12.41 jobs in the accounting industry per thousand. New Jersey accountants are among the top earners in the country, taking in an average annual salary of $91,400. In Newark, that number climbs even higher, rising up to an average of $48,000 per year.

City Annual Median Wage
Atlantic City $43,700
Camden $57,100
Newark $48,000
Trenton $54,000
Entry Level Mid Career Late Career
$53,600 $59,300 $67,000
  • New Jersey Average Cost Estimator Salary: $67,500
  • New Jersey Average Auditor Salary: $67,900
  • New Jersey Average Budget Analyst Salary: $64,800
  • New Jersey Average Credit Analyst Salary: $55,500
  • New Jersey Average Financial Analyst Salary: $70,000
  • New Jersey Average Personal Financial Advisor Salary: $73,000
  • New Jersey Average Financial Examiner Salary: $84,100
  • New Jersey Average Tax Examiner, Collector, or Revenue Agent Salary: -
  • New Jersey Average Tax Preparer Salary: $106,000
  • New Jersey Average Actuary Salary: $103,000
  • New Jersey Average Forensic Science Technician Salary: -
  • New Jersey Average Payroll and Timekeeping Clerk Salary: $80,100

New Jersey Accounting Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to take general business courses to qualify for CPA licensure in New Jersey?

Yes. All CPA candidates must have a minimum of 24 semester hours of general business courses on their transcripts in order to become a CPA. Candidates also need the equivalent number of credits in accounting. And keep in mind that the Board of Accountancy is looking for coursework above the introductory level.

How much experience do I need to become a CPA in New Jersey?

Even if you complete your education and pass the CPA exam, you’ll still need to work under a licensed CPA in order to receive your own Certified Public Accountant credentials. New Jersey requires at least one year of supervised practice under a licensed accountant. Candidates should keep a log of their duties and time, noting how much time is spent in consultation, taxation, auditing, and performing other accounting duties.

Can I complete an online Accounting degree in New Jersey?

Yes, online accounting degrees can kick off a brilliant career. For instance, Rutgers offers online accounting degrees at the graduate level. Graduate students can find online degree programs in professional accounting or governmental accounting from Rutgers University. There are many other online accounting degree programs that confer both undergraduate and master's degrees. Keep in mind that out-of-state programs may have higher fees for non-residents.

How much do New Jersey Accountants earn in a year? How about New Jersey Bookkeepers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Jersey accountants and auditors average $92,000 per year in base salary. Meanwhile, bookkeepers earn around $47,000 per year before bonus and benefits. New Jersey is particularly good to its accountants, since the national average salary is closer to $70,000. Bookkeepers, too, exceed the national average ($41,000) by about $6,000 per year.

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