How to Become an Accountant or CPA in Ohio

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What is Accounting?

Ohio is a growing, exciting business environment. As such, the state is always in need of more CPAs to help ensure that the books are balanced, the operations audited, and the taxes are filed. If you wish to become a CPA, you have a rewarding, exciting career ahead of you. Before you become a Certified Public Accountant, though, each state has specific requirements for new, and renewing CPAs.

To become a Certified Public Accountant CPA, you need to obtain a bachelor's degree 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 National Association of 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 CPA in Ohio.

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Online Accounting Education in Ohio

Accountants are studious people. That's mainly because they have to study so hard to attain a Certified Public Accountant CPA license. In Ohio, CPA candidates will have to complete 150 credit hours, or the quarterly equivalent. You might also substitute graduate hours.

Included in the 150 credit hours required by the State Board of Accountancy to become a CPA, you should include 30 credit hours in accounting courses and another 24 in business classes.

Your accounting courses should include:

  • Financial accounting
  • Management accounting
  • Auditing – but not internal audits
  • Taxation
  • Professional accountancy ethics and obligations

Your 24 hours of business electives can include, but are not limited to:

  • Business law
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Finance
  • Ethics – general ethics or business ethics
  • Statistics
  • Computer science
  • Business communications
  • Psychology or sociology (one course in either department)
  • Economics

If you have attended a college or university that uses the quarter system, each quarter hour will count as 2/3 of a credit hour. For those who are pursuing a Certified Public Accountant CPA license from graduate school, each graduate credit hour will count as 5/3 of an undergraduate credit hour. Thus, 18 graduate hours in accounting will satisfy the credits needed for your accounting courses.

  • Accreditation

    Not only must CPA candidates education satisfy the number of hours required by the State Board of Accountancy, but the work must also be of a satisfactory quality. In order to determine whether your education will be fully recognized to become a CPA, check on your college or university's accreditation status.

    That is, your institution must have received a regional accreditation from one of the following institutions:

    • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
    • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
    • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
    • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
    • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Online Associate Degree in Accounting (AS)

An associate degree is a great first step into the accounting field. At this level, you will learn traditional accounting fundamentals, the accounting cycle, spreadsheets, and other topics. This degree can gain you access to entry-level positions, but you may not be able to move into higher positions without years of experience and/or a higher-level degree.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Accounting (BS)

With a bachelor's degree in accountancy you are eligible to become a CPA. This four-year degree will expand upon accounting knowledge you can gain in an associate degree by adding auditing, financial reporting, information systems for finance, and more. Most larger companies require a bachelor’s for even entry-level positions, and you will have completed nearly enough credits to take the CPA exam. When you complete your degree, you will be on your way to becoming a CPA

Online Master's Degree in Accounting (MS)

This advanced accounting degree gives CPA candidates a greater knowledge base in accounting by exploring corporate taxation, managerial finance, data modeling, and other detailed functions of accounting. It will prepare you for supervisory positions in accounting and business positions. With this degree, you will also be fully prepared to take the CPA Exam or earn other, vital certifications for the rest of your career.

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Online PhD Degree in Accounting (PhD)

A doctorate is the most prestigious degree you can earn in the accounting field. In this program, you will learn more advanced accounting subjects like economic and financial theory. This degree is not necessary for most business positions but will be very useful for anyone looking to get into academia and teach accounting or conduct research.

Online Degree in Accounting (Online)

Whether you need a flexible schedule or prefer to study at home, there are many accounting degrees available to you online. You can earn an associate degree, bachelor’s, master’s, and more wherever you have your computer. Check with a local school to see what they have available or consider checking out a national online university or college. Online programs have been shown to provide an education equal to that on an in-person program.

Ohio CPA Exam Requirements

Before CPA candidates sit for the AICPA's Uniform CPA Exam, the State Board's requirements must be satisfied. For starters, you must be at least 18 years old and have completed the 150 credit hour requirement. However, there is an exception for those who hold a baccalaureate or associate's degree. If you hold one of these degrees, have completed the required 30 credit hours of accounting coursework, 24 hours of business coursework, and have scored 620 or better on the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) then the State Boards of Accountancy will accept your application to sit for the CPA Exam.

To verify your education, you must send official transcripts along with your application. You may mail these transcripts yourself, but they must be in sealed envelops from your institution. It may be easier to have your school mail the documents directly, as that saves time.

If you are concerned that some of your credits might not be accepted by the State Boards of Accountancy, NASBA offers evaluation services. Their CPA Central website will assist you in this process. Given the importance of your education to your Certified Public Accountant CPA license, if you have any questionable items on your transcript, this service might be in your best interest.

Your application should include the required fees, which are currently $140, transcripts, and the examination fee. The test fee is either $185.10 or $207.15, depending on which section you are taking. Payments are accepted via credit card only. You can submit an application and make all of your payments via the website. NASBA oversees the CPA Exam Services

Send all of the hard copy items in your application to CPA Exam Services at:

CPA Exam Services – OH
PO Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219

  • Taking the CPA Exam for Ohio licensure

    Once your application is accepted, you will receive an invitation to sit for the exam. It is vital that you immediately begin the process of scheduling a test time with an Ohio Prometric location.

    There are many Prometric testing sites statewide, including the following cities:

    • Maumee
    • Worthington
    • Strongsville
    • Beavercreek
    • Cleveland
    • Stow
    • Cincinnati
    • Mentor
    • Niles

    Note that there are four parts to the exam. Each is very difficult and pass rates hover around 50%, or less. Thus, you should study very hard for each part. Once you have passed one part, you will have an 18-month window in which to schedule, take, and pass the other three. It is difficult to pass the CPA exam, but becoming a CPA is worth all the hard work.

    Consider these passing rates from 2017:

    Auditing and Attestation 48.5%
    Business Environment and Concepts 53%
    Financial Accounting and Reporting 44.4%
    Regulation 47.2%

    A passing grade on each test is 75 and you can check for your results at the NASBA website.

  • Exam sections

    Each section of the test is allotted four hours. The sections are composed of either 66 and 76 multiple choice items, 4-8 task-based sections, and the BEC portion includes 3 written communications.

    The breakdown is:

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

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Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Requirements

Once you've achieved your Ohio CPA credentials you are on your way to becoming a CPA. You will need to maintain your status with ongoing education. That means continuing professional education (CPE.) The State Board only requires 120 hours for every three-year licensure period. However, when your license is new, the State Board will ask for a mere 40 hours over the first two years.

Once you have begun your first triennial period, the state will require a minimum of 20 hours every year. The triennial period begins on January 1 and ends December 31 three years hence. If you are unable to complete 20 hours in a year, the State board will issue a fine of $10 for every hour you lack. Keep in mind that your specialty may carry special CPE requirements.

If you work in financial reporting, whether in or out of public accounting, the State Board requires that you dedicate a minimum of 24 hours to accounting, auditing, or some mix of the two. For those who work with taxes, including offering tax advice or other tax work outside of public accounting, the State Board requires a minimum 24 hours of CPE time be dedicated to studying taxation. On top of this, you must take three credits in professional standards and responsibilities (PSR) during each licensure period.

PSR credit can come from any one of four areas:

  • Ohio accountancy laws and rules
  • Accountancy law and rules of another state
  • Professional ethics exam for CPAs
  • Ethical philosophy

You will spend a lot of time taking courses that apply to your CPE requirement, so the State Board has a tool to help you track it all. You should make a folder for all of your physical certificates and then use the Board's online tool to track your CPEs.

Your CPE experience should be both enlightening and enjoyable, as you are enhancing your professional life. You might even decide to teach a CPE course of your own. Regardless, you achieved a monumental goal – you are a Certified Public Accountant. Congratulations!

Become an Accountant in Ohio

In order to solidify your application with the State Board, CPA candidates must complete a period of supervised accountancy practice. Your supervisor must be a licensed Certified Public Accountant or hold a comparable credential from another nation. Your supervisor can also hold some comparable qualifications, such as a CPA certificate.

Though it's preferred that CPA candidates complete the work experience portion in the United States, you may work abroad and the State Boards of Accountancy will evaluate your work and make a judgment accordingly.

Your work experience should include practice of one or more of the following:

  • Consulting services
  • Personal financial planning services
  • Corporate tax filing
  • Management advisory
  • Financial advisory
  • Auditing
  • Preparation of financial statements

During your tenure, it is imperative that you keep a strict accounting of your work experience. For every area of accounting you practice, note your hours spent and make any pertinent notes that will verify your work experience. You should then have your supervisor sign off on every area of your work experience. The final document should be notarized.

Ohio allows applicants to embark upon self-employment for this portion of their licensure process. If that is your intention, you will need to detail your experience and then have your three largest clients submit written statements. Each signed, notarized statement should detail the work you did for them, the start and end dates for that work, and an approximation of how many hours you spent.

Getting Your CPA License in Ohio

In order to become an Ohio Certified Public Accountant, you must first be a legal, adult resident of the state. This residency requirement is not required in every jurisdiction, so be sure that if you wish to practice in Ohio that you are a resident, and part of this means you must take your examinations in the state. Note that if you already have a CPA license or certification from another state, which can qualify you for a reciprocal license in Ohio.

If you are seeking a first-time licensure in Ohio, you must show proof that you have passed all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam. A passing grade is 75 and all four sections must be successfully completed within 18 months of your invitation to sit for the exam.

Additionally, CPA candidates must take and pass a State Board-approved professional standards and responsibilities (PSR) course. This course covers accountancy laws specific to Ohio and the Board's rules. Once you have completed the course, CPA candidates must have its sponsor send the State Board verification that you were successful. Finally, you should submit to a criminal background check from an approved source.

If you, or a friend, happen to have a felony conviction on your record, all is not lost. Ohio will hear appeals from felons. They will evaluate your case based on your academic achievements, your employment following completion of your sentence, as well as your other responsibilities and activities after your societal debt was paid. You might include statements from professional, academic, and legal contacts to help plea your case. For instance, you might have your probation officer, college professors, and employers provide statements that attest to your strong moral character. Note that you must be fully candid, as the state board will seek any inconsistencies or misleading statements that might preclude a transparent view of yourself as a CPA candidate.

Along the road to Certified Public Accountant, you will receive email notifications of any missing or incomplete documents. The State Board will also send notice of your certification date.

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Careers for Accounting Graduates

  • Actuarial Science
    This masters-level program focuses on risk assessment through statistical and mathematical applications in finance and insurance industries. These programs emphasize understanding of risk factors, whereas basic accounting focuses on documentation of numbers and creation of reports. A degree in this field provides a variety of career options and a higher salary.
  • Taxation
    This concentration has excellent potential for job growth. This concentration gives the student unique knowledge and skills about tax laws at federal, state, and local levels. With this degree, you can pursue jobs with the IRS or start your own consulting firm.
  • Cost Analyst
    Cost analysts help businesses determine the finances and resources necessary to pursue projects in construction, manufacturing, or other areas. This position is vital to a project being completed on time and within budget.
  • Bookkeeping
    A bookkeeper is in charge of the finances for small companies, and sometimes entrepreneurs. They managed the billing, invoicing, as well as tracking income and expenses. The use of modern software like QuickBooks is standard.

Ohio Average Accountant Salary

Ohio seems to be an outlier in its mean annual wage for accountants and auditors. The Cleveland-Elyria area’s annual mean wage is $49,400, as its employment runs at 730, making an excellent living for this profession. The northeastern area’s mean annual wage is $63,470 and its employment is 1,840. Columbus’s mean annual wage is $50,400. Canton-Massillon’s mean annual wage is $50,000-$67,700 and the eastern Ohio non-metro mean annual wage is $66,930. In sharp contrast, the Cleveland-Elyria employment numbers are much higher—10,610. To the east, Akron has 2,910 accountants and auditors.

City Annual Median Wage
Cleveland $49,400
Columbus $50,400
Canton $50,000
Massillon -
Akron $53,500
Entry Level Mid Career Late Career
$47,300 $50,200 $51,300
  • Ohio Average Cost Estimator Salary: $63,000
  • Ohio Average Auditor Salary: $54,400
  • Ohio Average Budget Analyst Salary: $61,100
  • Ohio Average Credit Analyst Salary: $49,900
  • Ohio Average Financial Analyst Salary: $57,900
  • Ohio Average Personal Financial Advisor Salary: $63,300
  • Ohio Average Financial Examiner Salary: $65,500
  • Ohio Average Tax Examiner, Collector, or Revenue Agent Salary: -
  • Ohio Average Tax Preparer Salary: -
  • Ohio Average Actuary Salary: $88,500
  • Ohio Average Forensic Science Technician Salary: $56,000
  • Ohio Average Payroll and Timekeeping Clerk Salary: -

Ohio Accounting Frequently Asked Questions

What accounting jobs are available in Ohio?

You have numerous career paths available in the accounting field.

Here are some of the options in Ohio:

  • Research Data Account Coordinator
  • Corporate Financial Controller
  • Tax Professional
  • Grants Accounting and Reporting
  • Senior Accountant
  • Financial Analyst
  • Sales Tax Specialist
  • Cost Accountant
  • Equity Research Associate
  • Administrative Account Specialist
  • Insurance Bookkeeper
  • Account Analyst

What is the salary expectation with an accounting degree?

Here are some salary range examples in the state:

  • Corporate Financial Controller - $131,000-$278,073 | The average annual salary for this position is $200,700.
  • Sales Tax Specialist - $46,000-$59,893 | The average annual income is $53,100 for this position.
  • Account Analyst - $54,000-$65,611 | Around $59,400 is the average annual income for this position.
  • Senior Accountant - $72,000-$89,290 | The average annual salary is around $80,500.

Do colleges in the state offer online degrees?

Yes, there are online degree programs available in Ohio.

You can earn your online accounting degree from home through colleges and universities like:

  • Ashland University
  • Baldwin-Wallace College
  • Belmont Technical College
  • Ohio University
  • Bowling Green University
  • University of Toledo
  • Wright State University

How long does it take to earn an accounting degree?

How long it takes you to earn a degree in accounting depends on whether or not you attend part- or full-time, the level of degree that you are working toward, and the concentration that you have chosen. You could have a bachelor's degree in 4 years or a master's in 6 years. There are multiple programs available that range anywhere from 2 to around 8 years, depending on what you choose.

Why pursue an advanced degree in accounting?

Depending on the career path you want to pursue, an advanced degree may be required to move forward in the field. Some people pursue an advanced degree to broaden their skill set or to have that specialty listed on their resume. Speak with the counselor at your high school or college to better determine which degree path is the right choice for your plans.

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