CPA in Jamaica: How much does it cost?
Aspiring Accountants in Jamaica have largely two main options (namely ACCA and US CPA) in seeking professional qualification, my previous post covers an overview of them, including a cost analysis of ACCA.
Embarking on the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA) in Jamaica can be a daunting task as the regulations for registering for the exam and licensure change frequency and vary for each US state relative to the process for ACCA that is comparatively straightforward. There are six stages to becoming a licensed CPA if you have Jamaican education:
- Evaluation of Education
- Transcripts – Overseas Examination Council (CAPE)
- Transcripts – University of the West Indies / University of Technology
- Registering for the Examination
- Paying for Exams
- Fulfil 150 Credit Hours
- Work Experience Requirements
- Ethics Course Requirements
In this post I will largely be speaking about the first three steps and the costs associated with them.
Evaluation of Education (UWI/UTECH and CAPE certificates)
The first stage of registering for the CPA in Jamaica is to determine eligibility for the examination. Most states require that you have 120 credit hours in order to qualify for the examination. Jamaica (UWI) however, uses the British system of a 90 credit three year bachelor’s degree, a candidate would be deficient in about 30 credit hours (three credit hours generally constitute a course for social sciences at UWI). To mitigate this, the candidate would submit Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) certificates to be evaluated alongside an accounting university degree as this is generally equivalent to four years of US undergraduate study.
The next step is to determine which state you want to register for the exam through (which does not have to be the same state you intend to do the exam). As of July 2015, based on the information I have obtained from research and my colleagues, Alaska & Iowa are the only states that UWI students can apply to do the exam through (New Hampshire is no longer an option because they require 30 hours of upper division accounting courses see NH Board of Accountancy website).
The state you choose will determine which evaluation agency can be used to evaluate your Jamaican education. NASBA’s foreign evaluation evaluates the most jurisdictions (over 50 according to their website) and they are normally the agency that is given your exams scores (see CPA Candidate Bulletin for an explanation of the process), so it is generally easier to evaluate with them. However, based on my experience UWI students who did CAPE accounting I & II who also did the equivalent courses at UWI in first year will have those courses counted as duplicate and cancelled out. Resulting from this and assuming a UWI student is majoring in accounting, did accounting courses for all the degree electives they would receive 110 credit hours based on the evaluation that I received from NASBA, however, Iowa and Alaska only require 24 hours in upper division accounting (years two & year three at UWI) and a bachelor’s degree (I received 27 hours).
Applying for the evaluation would entail going on the NASBA website and filling out the application form; after which 200 USD (Regular Application) or 300 USD (Undecided Jurisdiction) would be paid depending on whether the candidate knows which state they will be eligible to do the exam under or not. If undecided, the agency will select three best states that the candidate will be able to get the most credits to in order to do the examination.
After paying the evaluation fee the candidate would then go to the Overseas Examination Council (google map location) to pay for a transcript, fill out their transcript request form, then request that it be sent directly to NASBA (NB: they don’t issue transcripts to students). The next step is to submit the UWI transcript which can be done online. However, due to NASBA requiring you to sign a waiver and send a photo ID, it is better to collect the UWI transcript and send all supplemental NASBA and UWI transcripts via courier (see table below – items in green represent cheapest option).
On completion of the evaluation you should receive an evaluation report in your email (pdf) with a detailed breakdown of the courses and the credits received. The report should also give an overall equivalency statement. For example, “The combination of the Caribbean Advanced Placement Examinations (CAPE) and the Bachelor of Science is equivalent to a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university in the United States. Mr. Miller completed a total of 110 semester credits”.
Registering for the Examination
When NASBA deems your Jamaican education to be equivalent to the US then the process of registering begins. This process begins with the paying of an application fee and Examination fees (see below).
After the registering and paying for the examinations, the candidate will receive a Notice to Schedule, this means that you can now select a date and book the actual examination in any state that has a prometric centre (remember that it is not possible to do the CPA exam in Jamaica).
The total costs up to the first sitting of the exam (assuming that you are doing two exams at a time) is shown below, which totals to about $2,180.77 USD and 11,640 JMD (items invoiced in USD will cost more as the Jamaican dollar continues to depreciate against the USD).
Paying for Exams
The costs for sitting for the second examination are slightly cheaper as the candidate would not be paying for an evaluation (see below).
The total approximate costs are summarised below. One of the easiest ways to lower the cost is to get cheaper flights, know which state to register in and to evaluate your education from UWI and the Overseas Examination Council using the longest (cheapest) methods. This is only a rough estimate of the costs that you may face so only use it as a guide. It is steeped in reality as all of the costs and processes I (Shane Andre Miller) have gone through myself.