Providing Clarity on the CPA Practical Experience Requirements

Published: June 16, 2021

From CPABC’s PER Team

The practical experience requirements are complex and nuanced. Recognizing this, and given that we continue to receive inquiries from members, employers, and candidates about the requirements, we wanted to provide some additional clarity. Below, some FAQs:

Q: Are CPA candidates required to complete 100 Tax Hours?

A: The CPA certification program no longer includes the 100 Tax Hours requirement. Candidates who wish to pursue licensure post-certification, must complete the required number of chargeable-hours for the licensing pathway they are seeking, along with any other requirements outlined in the CPA Paths to Public Accounting and Other Regulated Services Licensure – Guidance document. Any pending licensing requirements not completed during the certification process can be completed post-certification through CPA’s Post Designation Bridging.

Q: How do the CPA practical experience requirements (CPA PER) differ from those of the legacy bodies?

A: The new CPA PER are based on the CPA Competency Map, which sets the standards for the technical and enabling competencies required of a newly certified CPA through education, evaluation, and experience. While legacy body practical experience requirements were similar in nature to the CPA PER, they were based on their own respective legacy body competency maps.

Q: From what I understand, there are two routes to completing the CPA PER. What are these routes, and how do they differ?

A: Yes, there are two routes candidates can take to complete the CPA PER.

  • Pre-approved program route (PPR) – In this route, employers offer training positions that have been pre-approved by the profession. These positions are designed to meet the CPA PER within 30 months.
  • Experience verification route (EVR) – In this route, candidates report experience as it is gained at an employer of their choice. It is a self-directed route, where candidates must determine how they will demonstrate the required relevant competencies. The candidate completes a pre-assessment, which is reviewed by the profession. This initial review helps ensure that the candidate’s employment is on the right track to meeting their experience requirements.

Although different in format, both routes share the following requirements:

  • Candidate’s gain relevant and progressive experience and develop as professional accountants.
  • Candidates’ practical experience must be supervised appropriately.
  • Candidate’s must record detailed experience reports at regular intervals.
  • Candidate’s must meet and discuss progress with a CPA mentor on a semi-annual basis.
  • Experience must be assessed by the CPA profession.

Q: Is one route easier or better than the other?

A: Both routes are equally demanding and aim to enable CPA candidates to develop the appropriate CPA competencies through relevant experience, progression, and mentoring. However, note the answer below regarding candidates seeking future licensure.

Q: Could a candidate switch from one route to the other partway through their practical experience?

A: Candidates can complete their practical experience through either route or a combination of both. It is important for candidates to keep in mind, however, that any change in route could require further duration to ensure competencies are appropriately developed. In addition, if a candidate is seeking future licensure in the audit or review categories, for example, they must complete their entire 30-month practical experience term in a pre-approved path.

Q: What is the duration of practical experience required?

A: Candidates are required to complete a term of relevant practical experience of no less than 30 months of employment – some candidates require longer to develop the required competencies. This 30-month period of employment includes an allowance of up to 20 weeks’ leave from work.

Q: Is practical experience gained toward a legacy designation acceptable for the CPA designation?

A: Yes. Subject to its currency, relevance, and proficiency level, experience recognized by a legacy body may be recognized towards meeting the experience requirements under the CPA PER, pending assessment.

Q: Is international experience recognized?

A: Yes, experience gained within Canada or internationally is reportable towards the CPA PER. Again, it’s assessment is subject to its currency, relevance, and proficiency level. In either case, a maximum of 12 months of experience can be granted for prior experience (before joining the CPA Program), meaning a minimum of 18 months of experience must be gained concurrent with a candidate’s time on the CPA Professional Education Program (PEP).

Q: When do candidates start reporting their experience? And where and how do they report?

A: In BC, candidates may begin reporting once they have registered for the PEP with the CPA Western School of Business (CPAWSB), hold a relevant PPR or EVR position, and have a mentor.

A PPR candidate starts the reporting process by creating an initial report that enables their employer (program manager) to verify their start date; once the start date has been verified, the candidate can start reporting experience. An EVR candidate starts the reporting process by creating a pre-assessment report for review by CPABC; once the profession has ensured that the position will meet the PER entrance requirements, the candidate can start reporting experience.

All CPA practical experience reports are recorded using the CPA Practical Experience Reporting Tool (PERT). Access to the PERT system is granted to candidates when they register in the PEP with CPAWSB.

Q: What are the eligibility requirements for becoming a CPA mentor?

A: Any CPA member in good standing with the profession, whether recently qualified or very experienced, can apply to become a CPA mentor. Approved legacy body Mutual Recognition Agreement members may also apply to become mentors.

Q: What is required of a CPA mentor?

A: A mentor is required to meet with their mentee(s) on a semi-annual basis. The objective of these meetings is to discuss the candidate’s competency development, both technical and enabling, and provide them with constructive feedback. All mentor meetings are documented in the Practical Experience Reporting Tool (PERT).

Q: Is there a limit on the number of mentees a CPA mentor can have?

A: A mentor can take on no more than 50 mentees at one time. Naturally, this is a very high maximum and typically mentors take on 1 – 5 mentees at one time. It is at the CPA mentor’s discretion to determine how many candidates he/she can mentor successfully.

Q: How does a candidate find a CPA mentor?

A: CPA candidates taking the PPR will be matched with a CPA mentor by their employer. CPA candidates taking the EVR will seek out their own CPA mentor; these candidates are guided to seek out mentors who may be colleagues at their current or past workplace, current or past instructors/faculty, or contacts met through workshops/seminars, community organizations, or their local CPABC chapter. In the event that a candidate in the EVR is unable to find a mentor, they can ask CPABC for help in matching them with a CPA mentor through our Mentor Match Portal. The Mentor Match Portal is a tool designed to help EVR candidates connect with approved mentors open to taking on mentees.

Q: What is the difference between certification and licensing?

A: CPAs who receive certification are candidates who’ve completed all the CPA program requirements (education, examination, and practical experience) for membership in the profession.

Licensing is the process through which members may apply to practise public accounting as defined in the CPABC bylaws. CPAs who wish to be licensed in the audit, review, or compilation categories must meet specific education, examination, and practical experience requirements. CPA candidates who intend to apply for a public accounting licence after certification should follow specific pathways within the certification model while completing their CPA program of studies. If these requirements are not met during the certification process, a post-designation bridging program is available once the candidate becomes a member.

To learn more about these pathways to public accounting, please see the Public Practice Licensing page on the website.

Q: Can a CPA member provide public practice services without being licensed?

A: No. Only those who are appropriated licensed may provide public practice services. For example, a firm partner, shareholder, or proprietor of a firm engaged in public practice in BC (this includes sole practitioners) or an employee who has overall engagement responsibility where activities are included in the definition of public practice may do so. A CPA member who does not fall into the aforementioned categories could work for a public practice firm without being licensed, but would not be able to sign off on engagements or open their own public practice.

Q: Are PPR positions restricted to public practice firms?

A: No. PPR positions can be found in industry as well. However, PPR positions that will enable candidates to meet future licensure requirements for audit, review, or other assurance engagements must be in an audit or review path, as appropriate, that has been pre-approved for a public practice firm.

Q: How can my firm/company offer pre-approved positions?

A: As firms/companies differ in nature, we recommend that you contact Ella Bohinska, CPA, CA, CPABC’s program manager of pre-approved programs, to discuss the opportunity to create a pre-approved position at your firm/company. She can be reached at

Contact us

For more information on the practical experience requirements, please contact the CPABC PER team at

Quick glossary

CPAWSB – CPA Western School of Business
EVR – Experience verification route
PEP – Professional education program
PER – Practical experience requirements
PERT – Practical experience reporting tool
PPR – Pre-approved program route


  1. “CPA candidates” are individuals who are registered in the CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP) and who will write or have written the new Common Final Exam (CFE).
  2. The change is not applicable to legacy CA candidates in the audit and review paths—these individuals must still complete the 100 Tax Hours requirement in the CA PER.

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