Hawaii CPA Exam & License Requirements

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The CPA exam and licensure requirements in Hawaii are adapting to the evolving needs of the accounting profession. As highlighted by The CPA Journal, the CPA Evolution Project is significantly changing the CPA exam to align with the modern skills and competencies required in the field. These changes reflect a broader transition in accounting, where traditional practices are augmented by new skills in risk assessment, analytics, and IT governance​​.

This article will detail the revised CPA exam structure, including the core and discipline sections, and guide you through Hawaii’s specific CPA licensure requirements, preparing you for a career in this dynamic profession.

CPA Licensure Snapshot: Steps to CPA Licensure in Hawaii

Becoming a CPA in Hawaii requires a combination of education, examination, and experience. The process typically involves:

  • Waiting until you meet the minimum age requirement (18)—no state residency requirement.
  • Completing the required educational qualifications, which generally include 150 semester hours of college coursework with a significant emphasis on accounting and business courses.
  • Passing the CPA examination, which assesses a candidate’s knowledge and skills in accounting. To do this, you may need to compare CPA review courses that fit your budget, learning style and schedule.
  • Gaining relevant work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA.

Unique Challenges in Hawaii’s CPA Licensure Process from a CPA Candidate

Navigating the CPA licensure process in Hawaii can present unique challenges, as shared by a CPA candidate on Reddit. Among the less commonly known requirements are:

  • Providing official transcripts from all schools, with business and accounting courses highlighted.
  • Obtaining three notarized character references, requiring the original form to be mailed.
  • Experience verification from a CPA supervisor, including licensure verification if they are not licensed in Hawaii.
  • Licensure verification from the candidate’s home state, which must be requested in writing and mailed back to Hawaii.

Hawaii CPA License Requirements

Education Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree is the minimum qualification.
  • Though 150 credit hours are required for licensure, candidates can sit for the CPA exam after earning a bachelor’s degree.
  • For those with an accounting degree from an accredited school, the educational requirements are automatically satisfied.
  • Candidates with a non-accounting degree may also be eligible if they have completed 18 semester hours of intermediate or advanced level accounting courses.
  • Specific course requirements include 24 semester units in intermediate or advanced level accounting and 24 semester units in business courses.

Work Experience Requirements

  • Candidates must meet one of the following:
    • 1,500 chargeable hours in auditing, OR
    • 2 years of relevant experience in either public or non-public accounting. The non-public accounting experience should be substantially equivalent to that of public accounting.

Candidates should always verify the latest requirements with the Hawaii Board of Public Accountancy to ensure they meet all current standards for CPA licensure.

Ethics Exam

In Hawaii, there is no requirement for an ethics course or exam as part of the CPA licensure process. However, it’s important to note that maintaining CPA licensure in Hawaii does involve a continuing professional education (CPE) requirement specifically related to ethics. CPAs in Hawaii are required to complete 4 hours of CPE in Ethics as part of their ongoing educational requirements to maintain their license. This ensures that CPAs stay informed about ethical standards and practices relevant to the accounting profession.

Hawaii CPA Exam Fees

In Hawaii, pursuing CPA licensure involves various fees associated with the CPA examination process. It’s essential for candidates to be aware of these costs as they plan their licensure journey.

  • Total Examination Fee: The cost for taking all four sections of the CPA exam in Hawaii is $1,379.20, with each section costing $344.80.
  • Education Evaluation Application Fee: Candidates are required to pay an initial education evaluation application fee of $90. This fee assesses the candidate’s educational qualifications for eligibility to take the CPA exam.
  • Re-examination Fees: Should a candidate need to retake any sections of the CPA exam, there are re-examination registration fees. These fees vary based on the number of sections being reapplied for and can accumulate with multiple retakes.

CPA Exam Updates in Hawaii

The CPA Evolution initiative, led by NASBA and AICPA, is introducing a Core + Discipline model to the CPA Exam in January 2024. Candidates will complete a core in accounting, auditing, tax, and technology, and choose a discipline for deeper knowledge. This change addresses the evolving demands of the accounting profession.

Hawaii CPA candidates should be aware of the NASBA’s transition policy for the 2024 CPA Exam. Credits for current CPA Exam sections (AUD, FAR, REG, BEC) by December 31, 2023, will be transitioned to the new model. This policy is essential for those continuing their CPA journey into 2024 and beyond.

Expert Tips to Become a CPA in Hawaii

As a CPA expert, I advise anyone considering becoming a CPA in Hawaii to embrace the evolving landscape of accounting. Focus on developing a strong foundation in core accounting principles while also honing skills in emerging technologies and analytics. Hawaii’s unique business environment offers diverse opportunities, so stay adaptable and continuously seek to expand your expertise.

Bryce Welker, CPA Expert

Local Professional CPA Organizations and Networks

Hawaii offers several professional CPA organizations and networks that provide valuable resources and networking opportunities for accounting professionals. These include:

  • Hawaii Society of Certified Public Accountants (HSCPA): This organization offers continuing education, networking events, and advocacy for CPAs in Hawaii.
  • American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) – Hawaii Chapter: The AICPA provides resources, education, and support for CPAs nationwide, including those practicing in Hawaii.
  • National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) – Hawaii: NASBA works closely with state boards and offers various services and information relevant to CPAs in Hawaii.

Hawaii Exam Information and Resources

For more details, please contact:

Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs
PO Box 3469
Honolulu, HI 96801-3469

Email: [email protected][email protected]
Phone: 808-586-3000
Fax: 808-586-2689


Can I sit for the CPA exam in Hawaii with a bachelor’s degree?

Yes, you can sit for the CPA exam in Hawaii after earning a bachelor’s degree, even if you haven’t completed the required 150 credit hours necessary for licensure.

What are the work experience requirements for CPA licensure in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, you need either 1,500 chargeable hours in auditing or 2 years of relevant accounting experience, which can be in public or non-public accounting. The experience should be substantially equivalent to public accounting.

Is an ethics exam or course required for CPA licensure in Hawaii?

No, Hawaii does not require an ethics exam or course for CPA licensure. However, CPAs must complete 4 hours of CPE in Ethics as part of their ongoing educational requirements.

What are the fees for the CPA exam in Hawaii?

The total cost for all four sections of the CPA exam in Hawaii is $1,379.20. Additionally, there is a $90 education evaluation application fee. Re-examination fees apply if you need to retake any sections, varying based on the number of sections.

How will the CPA Evolution impact the CPA exam in Hawaii?

The CPA Evolution will replace the BEC section with three new Discipline sections starting January 10, 2024. Candidates must pass one Discipline exam along with the three Core Exams. It’s recommended to pass the BEC Exam by December 15, 2023, to avoid the new Discipline sections.

Bryce Welker, CPA

Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes, Inc.com, YEC and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created CrushTheCPAexam.com to share his knowledge and experience to help other accountants become CPAs too. Bryce was named one of Accounting Today’s “Accountants To Watch” among other accolades.   As Seen On Forbes