Students of accounting in the region who wish to join the ranks of a thriving global profession are increasingly pursuing American licensure.
MANY CURRENT accountants in the UAE and Gulf region who wish to advance their careers and demonstrate their dedication to the accounting profession are choosing to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination and obtain their US CPA license.
The US CPA license is the premier accounting credential in the United States, backed by a rigorous exam, strict licensing requirements and a code of ethics, and is highly regarded throughout the world as a leading credential. The high regard for the US CPA license is one of the reasons we have seen growth in both the number of candidates taking the exam internationally, as well as the level of international interest in the CPA.
Skills and knowledge
Accounting professionals look to the US CPA as a way to show verification of their skills and knowledge to the international business community. Additionally, in the US, research shows that employers prefer to hire a CPA over a non-CPA accountant and that CPAs tend to earn a higher salary.
In the US, CPAs serve the complex demands of a rapidly changing business environment. Capital markets rely on the work of CPAs to ensure that investors have access to reliable and transparent financial statements.
According to AICPA research, the US CPA is the most highly regarded and trusted financial professional, and both investors and business decision makers rank the CPA first among financial and business professionals.
Simply put, the CPA pathway prepares professionals for today’s global business environment and expands career opportunities.
Details on the US CPA Exam in UAE
Passing the US CPA Exam is one of the three requirements for licensure as a US CPA, along with education and experience requirements.
The US CPA Exam is administered internationally as a service to foreign nationals, as well as in response to escalating international demand for the US CPA license. The Exam is administered in English.
The international administration of the Exam in the UAE and the Middle East is the same as the US Exam administered by the AICPA (American Institute of CPAs), NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) and Prometric in the United States.
The AICPA, NASBA and Prometric are providing the same services as they do for the domestic program, so that the Exam and the licensure process will be the same for international examinees as it is for examinees within US jurisdictions.
In addition, CPA Exam testing in all international locations, including the UAE, has recently been expanded to the first two months of the testing window: January and February, April and May, July and August and October and November, the same as in the US.
Requirements for Licensure
Licensure requirements for international candidates are the same as for US CPA candidates.
Along with passing the Uniform CPA Examination, international candidates must meet educational and experience requirements as mandated by US state boards of accountancy.
In order to qualify to take the CPA Exam outside the US, candidates will have to first establish their eligibility through application to a state board participating in the International CPA Examination Administration Programme.
Below is a full list of jurisdictions that currently participate in the international administration of the CPA Examination.
For specific instructions on how to apply to take the CPA Examination, visit the CPA Exam section of the NASBA website – http://nasba.org/exams/internationalexam/international-process-to-apply/.
Since every licensing jurisdiction in the US except Puerto Rico has an experience requirement in place for initial licensure – it is crucial that those who wish to become CPAs have a plan in place to gain some work experience before they can become licensed.
Upon completion of the Exam, candidates must complete one year of experience under a licensed CPA or have a licensed CPA sign-off on their professional experience.
Exam Content and Scoring
The CPA Examination protects the public interest by helping to ensure that only qualified individuals become licensed as US CPAs – so you need to have a great deal of knowledge in order to pass. Although a challenging process, it is worth the effort.
All candidates – both in the US and internationally – must meet the same requirements for exam and licensing. The passing score is 75 on a scale that runs from 0 to100 for each section of the Exam.
Candidates must pass all four sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). These four sections represent a total of 14 hours of testing and must all be completed within an 18-month testing window.
The approximate pass rate for Middle East candidates is 40% depending on section taken. Pass rates for FAR and REG are over 40% (data taken from 2011 Q3 to 2012 Q3).
There are a number of review course providers who have materials which will help candidates prepare for the Exam, however the AICPA and NASBA do not endorse any specific review course providers.
The AICPA website has a tutorial and sample test which serves as a guided tour of the CPA Examination. It demonstrates the functionality of question types, tools, resources and navigation found in the Uniform CPA Examination and candidates are encouraged to visit it before they take the exam.
The total cost includes application and administration fees, in addition to the examination fees listed below.
The fees per examination section are:
|Auditing and Attestation (AUD)||$309.65|
|Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)||$328.75|
|Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)||$309.65|
The cost varies for each state or jurisdiction, so candidates should refer to their jurisdiction’s application materials for additional information. The majority of candidates from the Middle East apply to the states of New Hampshire and Colorado.
- Article written by Michael Decker, Director of Examinations – AICPA and Colleen Conrad, CPA, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, NASBA