Enrolled Agent Continuing Education RequirementsDid you know that throughout your career as an EA you will have to fulfill Enrolled Agent continuing education requirements? Continuing professional education is required by the IRS in order to maintain your EA certification.

Not sure what you need to do to fulfill these obligations? We’ve outlined the requirements for you in this article.

Enrolled Agent CPE Requirements

Being an enrolled agent means staying up-to-date on any changes in the tax-laws and remain familiar with all publications. To make sure you remain current, you will need to a obtain credit hours during your three-year enrollment cycles.

CPE Credit Hours

Enrolled Agents must complete a certain number of credit hours that are approved by the IRS to maintain their designation.

You will be required to complete a total of 72 hours of IRS-approved enrolled agent CPEs, including 6 hours of EA ethics, during every 3-year enrollment cycle.

In other words, during each enrollment year, you should be completing about 16 hours of CPE. Two of these hours must be dedicated to enrolled agent ethics each year. The 16 hour-requirement is the minimum for each enrollment year; you can of course complete more credits each year if you like.

The inclusion of at least 2 hours of ethics training per year is important because agents are required to abide by the Departments of Treasury’s Circular 230. These regulations govern the practices of all EAs. As a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), you are bound by a Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct, so it is important to review the code regularly in order to ensure ethical behavior.

Enrollment Cycles

The enrolled agent enrollment cycle lasts 3 years. Your specific 3-year period is based on the last digit of your tax identification number (TIN) or your social security number (SSN).

To prove you have completed your enrolled agent continuing education requirements, you must complete Form 8554 and file it with the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). This form must be submitted between November 1 and January 31 of your assigned year, and if you have met all requirements, your designation renewal will become effective as of the following April 1.

CPE Courses

Enrolled Agent continuing education can be fulfilled by enrolling in various CPE courses and classes. You may complete traditional live courses or choose the self-study option. The most important factor in choosing to study the material on your own is to make sure you do the work and cover the necessary material.

In addition, your CPE course of choice must include the following subjects:

  • Federal Taxation
  • Federal Tax Related Matters (this includes Accounting or Tax Preparation Software)
  • Ethics

It is important that you do not confuse Special Enrollment Exam prep courses with EA CPE courses. Courses designed to help you pass the SEE are not recognized as enrolled agent continuing CPE.

The most popular CIA CPE courses available are from Gleim EA Review.

Although Gleim has a long track record of helping candidates prepare for the SEE exam, they have also entered into an agreement with the Office of Professional Responsibility and the IRS to help students meet their CPE requirements once they are enrolled agents. They now also offer an Ethics course that was designed to meet the IRS requirements.

You may find other courses, such as APlusCPE, to be a more efficient means of completing your CPE requirements. Many courses are designed to include all necessary material in one program, as opposed to the two separate courses offered by Gleim.


Additional Information

You should also note the following: it is not possible to roll over CE hours from one enrollment cycle to the next. If you complete excess EA Ethics hours, these will be credited as general CPE hours within the same enrollment cycle.

You are also not allowed to repeat the same CPE courses within the 3-year enrollment cycle.

Final Exam Requirements

To maintain a valid EA designation, you are required to pass an exam. The passing grade for enrolled agent CPE courses is 70% or higher. If you do not pass your exam on the first try, you can retake the exam an unlimited number of times.

These final exams do not require a proctor or exam monitor during your testing period. Self-study exams are typically open-book, so you can refer to the course material as needed during your exam.

Maintaining your EA designation is important, so be sure to give yourself adequate time to prepare for each exam.

What are Enrolled Agent CPE Requirements?

Enrolled Agent  Continuing Education Requirment
CPE Credit Hours 72 Hours
Enrollment Cycles 3 Years Based on your TIN
CPE Courses

You may complete traditional live courses or choose the self-study option.

  • Federal Taxation
  • Federal Tax Related Matters (this includes Accounting or Tax Preparation Software)
  • Ethics

Enrolled Agent Exam Part 1Part 1 of the enrolled agent exam, also known as the IRS Special Enrollment Exam (SEE), covers tax topics related to individuals. The exam contains 100 questions, including 85 questions that are scored and 15 questions that are experimental and therefore not scored. The exam consists of 5 separate sections and candidates have 3.5 hours to complete it.

The EA exam is a multiple choice exam with four possible answers for each question. All questions are weighted equally. The five sections covered on the first exam (Part 1) are as follows:

  • Section 1: Preliminary Work and Taxpayer Data
  • Section 2: Income and Assets
  • Section 3: Deductions and Credits
  • Section 4: Taxation and Advice
  • Section 5: Specialized Returns for Individuals – Estate Tax and Gift Tax

The EA exam is offered every month of the year except March and April (the busiest tax season). Each part of the exam costs $109 and must be scheduled in advance through Prometric, which has more than 8,000 test center locations in the US and throughout the world. Click here to see a list of Prometric locations and tests offered (not all tests are offered at all test centers).

Candidates will need a Preparer tax identification number (PTIN) in order to schedule an exam. To apply for a PTIN, you can go to the IRS website and click on the “Renew or Sign-up now” button on the left.

A new exam is introduced each May, based on tax law from the previous year. It is graded on a scale that ranges from 40 to 130. To pass the exam, you must receive a score of 105 or higher.

If you fail the exam (a score of 104 or below) you will be notified that you did not pass as soon as you finish the test. You will only find out your exact score if you fail the exam; individual scores are not released for students who pass the exam. Each part of the exam may be taken up to 4 times in any testing year.

The following video by one of the leading EA Exam Review companies reviewed on this site offers an example of an effective strategy to help you pass the exam:

The Best Strategy To Pass The Enrolled Agent Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) The First Time

For a comparison of various Enrolled Agent prep course options, please check out our EA course comparison chart.

Enrolled Agent Exam GuideAn essential part of becoming an Enrolled Agent is passing the IRS Special Enrollment Exam, otherwise known as the SEE.

The following steps will help you prepare to register, study and pass your EA exam.

Obtain a PTIN

Before you are eligible to apply for the Special Enrollment Examination, you must obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), which is issued by the IRS.

This is probably the easiest step of the process. Simply or to the IRS website, click on “Renew or Sign-up now” register for your PTIN, and pay your fee.

Now you are ready to register for the SEE.

Register for the EA Exam

Once you’ve obtained your PTIN, go online and register for your exam. You will be able to schedule all three parts of the exam. You do not have to take all 3 parts of the exam on the same day or consecutively. You can take each part of the EA exam in any order you choose as long as you remain within the available testing window (May 1st, 2015 to February 28th, 2016).

The only time constraint is that you must schedule the exam date within 1 year from your date of registration. After that, you have two years to complete and pass all three sections. If you do not pass a section on the first try, you may re-take that section up to 4 times within one testing window.

Enrolled Agent Exam Cost

Each part of the EA exam costs $109. You will be required to pay this fee when you schedule your examinations.

If you need to reschedule your exam, you can do so. If you reschedule your exam within 5 to 29 days prior to your exam date, you will be charged a $35 fee; however, if you reschedule your exam more than 30 days in advance, there is no rescheduling fee.

If you reschedule the exam less than 5 days before your test date, you must call to reschedule (you cannot do so online) and your entire initial fee will be forfeited and you must pay the full fee of $109 again.

Create an Enrolled Agent Exam Schedule

The best way to ensure success is to create an exam study schedule to keep you on track. Your detailed schedule should outline the topics and the amount of time you should be studying for each topic that is tested on the exam.

Various topics on each section of the EA exam are weighted differently, so you should factor that into your exam preparation. You may want to study more for those topics that are weighted the most, and spend less time on material that appears on the exam with less frequency.


Review for the EA Exam

Your best chance at successfully passing this challenging exam involves a comprehensive review of all parts of the exam. The most effective way to prepare yourself is to enroll in an Enrolled Agent Review Course. These commercial courses will cover all three parts of the exam in depth and often provide feedback on your progress in addition to practice tests to simulate the actual exam.

Any good review course will cover all sections on all 3 parts of the exam. These include:

The first part of the IRS special enrollment examination covers Individuals and consists of 5 sections:

  • Preliminary Work and Taxpayer Data (15%)

  • Income and Assets (25%)

  • Deduction and Credits (25%)

  • Taxation and Advice (20%)

  • Specialized Returns for Individuals (15%)

EA Exam Part 2

The second section of this exam focuses on Businesses and is divided into 3 sections:

  • Businesses (45%)

  • Business Financial Information (40%)

  • Specialized Returns and Taxpayers (15%)

Typically, candidates find this part to be the most challenging of the three parts of the SEE. The pass rate for Part 2 is approximately 60%, as compared to a pass rate above 80% for the other two parts of the exam.

EA Exam Part 3

The final part of the SEE tests material on Representation, Practices and Procedures, and is broken down into 4 sections:

  • Practices and Procedures (33%)

  • Representation before the IRS (25%)

  • Specific Types of Registration (25%)

  • Completion of the Filing Process (17%)

Taking the Exam

Each part of the exam contains 100 questions that must be answered in 3.5 hours. In total, you will have to answer 300 questions over a 10.5 hour period to complete the entire SEE exam.

All of the questions on the enrolled agent exam are multiple choice. You must choose from 4 different answers. There are three different types of questions:

  • Direct Question

  • Incomplete Sentence

  • All of the Following Except

If you find one of these formats more challenging while you are studying and taking practice exams, you should spend additional time to improve your chances of doing well on the test.

What to Expect After the Exam

So, what happens now that you’ve scheduled, prepared for, and taken your exam? You get your results, of course!

The published pass rates for the exam are broken down by exam part.

In the past 3 years, approximately 75-80% of candidates have passed Part 1 of the exam, about 60% of exam-takers have passed Part 2, and the pass-rate for Part 3 is just under 90%, making it the least difficult section of the SEE.

The pass rate for part 2 is traditionally much lower than for the other two parts of the exam. You may want to take this into consideration when studying.

(To see Prometric’s Official Results of the Special Enrollment Examinations from 2008-2015, please click here.)


You will know if you passed or failed each part of the exam as soon as you complete it. You will only find out your exact score on the exam if you did not pass.

If you take the time to study for the exam, you will dramatically increase your chances of passing the first time. Take a look at our EA exam review courses to set yourself up for success today!

Enrolled Agent SalaryIf you enjoy crunching numbers or preparing your own income taxes, then you should consider a career as an enrolled agent (EA).

When it comes to jobs in accounting and finance, many people consider becoming CPAs, while few think about the option of becoming enrolled agents. With an increasing need for EAs across the nation, choosing to follow this career path can be both satisfying and lucrative.

Enrolled Agent vs CPA

First, it is important to understand the difference between an enrolled agent and a CPA.

Enrolled agents are specialized tax practitioners who are certified to represent taxpayers in dealings with the IRS. EAs prepare taxes, can stand in for you during an audit, and handle other business you may have with the IRS.

To become an EA, you must pass the SEE exam. Unlike CPAs, enrolled agents become nationally certified, so they can practice in any state with the same certification.

CPAs, on the other hand, are public accountants who file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). There is no national certification for CPAs, so they must be certified in each state in which they intend to work.

Given the difference in their job descriptions, it’s not surprising that their salaries differ as well.

Enrolled Agent Salaries

There are 3 general levels of salary for EAs: entry-level, mid-level, and senior. The average salary is typically determined by experience and location. For example, EAs based in the state of California earn up to 8% more on average than those who work in other states.

According to Payscale.com, entry-level EAs generally begin with a salary of about $23,000 per year, but their pay can vary between $8-$24 per hour.

Entry-level agents are primarily tax practitioners. During tax season, these agents review and prepare tax returns for both individuals and businesses.

As their experience increases, these agents have the opportunity to move up the pay scale.

Mid-level enrolled agents typically earn between $37,000 and $50,000. These agents tend to have 1-2 years of work experience. Hourly pay could be anywhere from $12-$55, depending on how many years of experience they have under their belt.

Common tasks for mid-level EAs include the preparation and review of tax returns, following up with tax invoices, preparing bank reconciliations, providing information to external auditors, and much more. The responsibilities for a mid-level position exceed that of an entry-level agent, which explains the difference in pay.

Senior level internal revenue agents can earn a healthy income in the accounting world. These higher-paying positions can be between $66,000 and $127,000 annually.

To qualify for high-level positions, EAs must typically have a minimum of 5 years experience in tax consulting, planning and training. Other tasks include preparing tax returns, performing tax accounting reconciliations, teaming up with the different departments regarding any tax issues, etc.

There is considerably more responsibility required for EAs in senior positions, which translates into the potential to earn a greater income.


Salary Comparison

The average Enrolled Agent salary is approximately $45,000 annually, as compared to CPAs,  who earn an average of approximately $60,000 a year. According to payscale.com, EAs make between $29,236 – $74,047 a year, with a median income of $46,134, while CPAs make between $41,676 – $98,448 a year, with a median income of $59,824.

Although pursuing your CPA may look more profitable at first glance, thanks to the increasing demand for enrolled agents, the EA’s earning potential increases faster than the CPA’s. In as little as 4 years, EAs can earn the same amount as the average CPA if they are successful and take on many clients.

The flexibility of being an EA may make the slightly lower pay worth it for those who like to set their own hours and work independently for individuals or businesses all over the United States. CPAs typically work in a more traditional office environment with a predictable salary that increases over time as they gather experience.

How To Become An EA

Becoming an enrolled agent takes much less time than becoming a CPA. Unlike the CPA exam, which requires you to have completed certain educational prerequisites, there are no educational requirements to sit for the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE).

To become an enrolled agent, the IRS requires a few straightforward steps.

  1. You must obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)
  2. You must register for and pass the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE)*
  3. You can then apply for enrollment and pay a fee online or by mail
  4. You must also pass a tax compliance check that investigates whether you have filed all your tax returns and have no outstanding tax liabilities.

*Some IRS employees do not have to take the SEE exam if their work experience meets the IRS requirements (please see Treasury Department Circular No. 230 for details on this exemption).

Earning the EA license demonstrates your advanced knowledge of tax procedures and regulations. If you are looking for a flexible and well-paid career in the tax industry and do not want to become a CPA, this rewarding job is worth investigating. If you decide to pursue this career path, check out these study materials for passing the EA exam today!

What is the the salary for an Enrolled Agent?

Enrolled Agent Level Salaries
Entry Level $23,000
Mid-Level $37,000-$50,000
Senior $66,000-$127,000

Enrolled Agent Exam Pass RateThe pass rate on the SEE varies for each of the three parts of the exam. The most difficult test for most candidates is Part 2 (Businesses). Only about 60% of exam takers have passed this part in the past three years.

Part 1 of the exam (Individuals) is also challenging; approximately 75-80% of exam-takers have passed this part of the exam in the past three years.

Most students do better on Part 3 of the exam (Representation, Practices and Procedures), with a pass-rate of just under 90%, this is the least difficult section of the SEE.

Enrolled agent candidates are allowed to take the 3 parts of the exam in any order. Many opt to go for the easiest sections first and leave the hardest, Part 2, for last. This can be a great strategy because passing the first two exams will give students additional confidence and motivation to finish strong.

EA Exam Pass Rates

Section Rate
Part 1 75-80%
Part 2 60%
Part 3 90%

Enrolled Agent vs CPAIt can get a little confusing with all the accounting acronyms out there. Similarities among various accounting jobs makes distinguishing accounting job titles even more difficult.

The following article explains the differences between two of the most commonly confused job titles; Enrolled Agent and CPA.

Enrolled Agent vs CPA: What’s The Right Choice?

Majority of people turn to the two well-known groups of licensed tax professionals: certified public accountants (CPA) and enrolled agents (EA). No matter the acronym after their name, the first step in your decision-making process is to make sure they are licensed.

To understand the difference between an enrolled agent and a CPA, we must look at what each of them actually does.

Enrolled Agent

EAs are considered tax specialists. They have a vast knowledge of anything that pertains to income tax, inheritance tax, gift tax, estate, payroll, retirement, and non-profit taxation.

In order to become an enrolled agent, you must take the EA exam or have at least 5 years of IRS work experience under your belt. The EA exam, also known as the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE), is a 3-part exam. Each section tests your knowledge on all tax-related matters.

Part one of the exam focuses on Individuals and covers 5 sections: Preliminary Work and Taxpayer Data, Income and Assets, Deduction and Credits, Taxation and Advice, and Specialized Returns for Individuals.

Part two is considered the hardest section and is based on Business Entities. Candidates should study very hard to pass the three sections that make up this part: Businesses, Business Financial Information, and Specialized Returns and Tax Payers.

The third part of the exam covers Representation, Practice and Procedures. This part of the EA exam is broken down into 4 sections: Practices and Procedures, Representation before the IRS, Specific Types of Registration, and Completion of the Filing Process.

Once you have passed the EA exam, you are federally recognized as a tax specialist.

Certified Public Accountant

CPAs have a broad range of knowledge on all topics related to accounting, including auditing, taxes, business law, finance and more.

To become a CPA you must first complete the education requirements of the state in which you plan to practice.

After you have met the prerequisite education requirements, you can sit for the CPA exam in that state. The CPA exam is a standardized test that consists of 4 different sections: Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation.

Depending on your state, you may also have to complete a work experience requirement. Typically this is 1 year of accounting-based work under the supervision of an active CPA.

CPAs are licensed at the state level and can only practice in that state. This is one of the biggest differences between CPA’s and enrolled agents, who are licensed on a federal level.



Many people choose a specific career path based on potential earnings. Although most people have heard of CPAs, fare less are familiar with the work of EAs are not aware of their potential income level.

On average, EAs make approximately $44,000 a year. In comparison, the average annual salary of a CPA is nearly $63,000.

While these numbers appear to indicate that pursuing a CPA is more profitable, it is important to remember that these are average salaries and that an EA with experience can expect to earn much more. The increasing need for enrolled agents in recent years means that EAs could potentially have a higher income than CPAs because these specialists are in such demand.


If you are deciding between becoming an enrolled agent or a CPA, you should weigh the pros and cons for each job.

EAs are not as common in the business sector, which means that you could choose to work from home. CPAs, on the other hand, are integral to businesses and also work in the public sector in more traditional capacity. Being an EA offers more flexibility in terms of lifestyle in terms of choosing where and how much you want to work.

To become an enrolled agent you should focus your studies on taxation and take the SEE. To become a CPA, you will have to satisfy specific educational requirements first, take a specialized exam, gain work experience and then become licensed in the state in which you intend to work.

According to Payscale.com, enrolled agents typically make anywhere between $30,000-$75,000 a year, while CPAs make between $40,000-$104,000 annually.

Enrolled agents are becoming increasingly recognized in the tax business and their field continues to grow. The number of EAs has risen in recent years as clients have begun to recognize their value and special skill set. If you are an accountant interested in starting your own practice to have the freedom to work when and where you want, you should seriously consider becoming an enrolled agent.

What is the difference between a CPA & an Enrolled Agent?

EA Vs. CPA Enrolled Agent CPA
Specialty Tax Focused Broad range relating to accounting
How To Qualify Take the EA Exam or have 5 years experience of IRS experience Complete the education requirements of your state & take the CPA exam
Salary $44,000 $63,000

How to Prep for Exams on a Busy ScheduleExams tend to be one of those things that creep up on you. When you look in your calendar, it always seems like you have ages to prepare, right up to the point where the exam is suddenly only two days away. This is doubly true if you’re working a full-time job and have to juggle additional obligations.

To avoid a situation where you’re extremely unprepared, we’ve put together this guide on how to best prepare for exams when you already have a busy schedule.

Work Smart, Not Hard

Time is a precious resource. If yours is already limited, you definitely don’t want to waste any more of it on studying that doesn’t work. To find a system that does, you first need to determine which style of learning best suits you. Mind you, there are competing theories on how to best distinguish between learning styles but the bottom line is the same: figure out what works for you and adapt your exam prep accordingly.

If you memorize facts easily, make flashcards with short but important info on them. If you remember things better by listening to them, find a podcast or an audiobook that covers the topics you need to learn. If you learn by teaching, enlist a friend (even an imaginary one will do) to listen to you explain what you’ve just studied.

Start Early, Stick to a Schedule

When you know that you don’t have that much free time, the obvious solution is to start your prepping earlier. In addition to lessening stress, leaving space between your study sessions helps you retain information better. If you already know you’ll have a problem with finding a suitable window of time for revision, change your approach. Take out your schedule or calendar app that contains all the appointments you simply cannot miss and add study time there. Treat it like any other obligation you need to fulfill. You don’t even need find that much time at once.

The important part here is to treat your studying as seriously as you would your job by making a schedule that works for you and sticking to it.

Make Maximum Use of Time

Even if you can’t afford to take 30 minutes in the morning or evening to focus on your test prep, there are often small windows of time during your day that you could use for revision. For example, you can make use of all the tactics we mentioned under the first tip. During your morning commute, listen to an audiobook (or simply a recording of you going over your notes). Keep a few flashcards in your pocket which you can peek at while waiting for your afternoon coffee or in the elevator. Use your lunch break to explain the newest aspect of what you’ve learned to your coworker (you might want to offer to buy their lunch in exchange for them paying attention).

While the tiny moments you steal every now and again might not prove to be the most effective way of remembering your topics, the act of re-focusing your brain to think about what you’re supposed to be studying does wonders. It’s also a good idea to keep a tiny notebook with you to jot down anything you think you should go over when you have more time.


Take Care of Yourself

When time is scarce, taking care of yourself can easily take a back seat. But it shouldn’t be the case. Especially, when prepping for an exam. Research supports the thought that regular exercise can help you focus and retain information better. If 10 minutes of running a day can help you save 40 minutes of learning time by improving your cognitive abilities, the ROI is well worth it. So, don’t hang those running shoes up just yet!

Another way you can help yourself do better quality prepping is minding what you eat. This is another aspect that is often overlooked during a busy period. While having a burger or grabbing a cookie can seem like a great way to save time on food prep, you’ll end up paying for those decisions with decreased brain function. Instead, try fish, avocados, nuts, or other “brain food” to really give yourself the upper hand.

So, there you have it. If you’re already struggling with a full schedule, start your prepping early and stick to a fixed schedule. Treat your revision as another job that you must fulfill. Instead of spending countless hours on mindless reading of notes, use a method that works with your learning style, while making maximum use of the small windows of time you have throughout the day. And, whatever you do, don’t forget to take a minute for yourself, either.

Author Bio: As a trained lawyer, Liisi has sat her fair share of exams. These days, however, she’s turned her love for languages into a full time business, by using Teacher Finder to help people find private language teachers all over the world.


How to Study for the EA ExamPerhaps you’ve been working for 10-15 years preparing taxes and you’ve finally had it with your current station in life. Or, maybe you’re just trying to avoid reaching that point, and as a young professional in the accounting industry, you want to be catapulted up the corporate ladder.

There are many reasons why people take the EA exam, but there are just a few ways to study for the test in a way that will help you pass. Let us show you how to pass the EA exam with a limited investment of time and money.

Studying During Work Hours

Once you decide to embark on that journey to get your Enrolled Agent certification, which will help you advance through your organization, you need to create a study program. We would suggest using an EA exam review course, but that’s only half of the battle—you need to find some time to study. And, if you’re working full-time, that can often be much easier said than done.

If you’ve got a family, commitments outside of work, or simply are working more than 50-60 hours a week, it’s time to get creative. You need to keep your normal life, but you’re going to have to make some major adjustments.

The key to studying while keeping a full-time job is to prioritize your free time. Use an audio course to study on your commute. Bring flashcards with you to the gym for use on the treadmill. Bring your worksheets with you to your child’s play (you’re not missing much!). Do whatever you have to do to get those hours in. Remember, everyone who loves and cares about you will excuse you for a couple of months if you’re beyond busy, but they won’t like it if you’re always complaining about being stuck in a mid-level job.

Sign out of your social media accounts for a couple of months, tell your children and spouse that you need their support and understanding, and be prepared to rein in your social and familial life for a brief period of time. Making these adjustments can be extremely difficult, especially with all the initial doubt and speculation towards these changes. Combat these feelings with a strong game plan, which begins with choosing one of the best EA review courses on the market.

Humility Matters

One of the biggest mistakes that we see with regard to EA exam failure is a lack of humility. You need to be humble about this exam—it’s way better to over-study than to under-study. However, any amount of hubris about studying isn’t what may drag you down. It could be that you simply don’t study the right way.

So, it’s a matter of finding out what type of learner you are. There’s the basic breakdown of auditory, visual, or kinesthetic (by doing), but there’s also a second component. You should be studying at least six days a week, but some people may prefer to do only an hour or so during the week and then load up on one weekend day. Others may favor the two to three hour per night approach, with more free time on the weekend.

Regardless of what your studying style and approach are, you need to take SOME time off. Plan on giving yourself one study-free day a week, but once again, don’t get too confident! Don’t think that because you’re familiar with taxes and IRS codes that you’re going to ace the test. Make sure you know what you are up against before taking this exam. One of the biggest mistakes that we see is the more seasoned accounting industry professionals failing an exam the first time around because they felt like their work experience would be enough preparation.

Smart Repetition Is the Solution

When you’re studying, regardless of the length of your session, try to avoid the wrong repetition. If you do know something, and you’ve done the aforementioned hubris check, MOVE ON. We cannot emphasize this enough: don’t over study the same material! There’s a difference between learning and memorization. For a test this big, you’re not going to be able to remember everything, but you definitely won’t be able to learn all of it either!

Try to learn as much as you can and then memorize certain tricks and learning devices to help fill in the gaps. This isn’t a brain teaser type of a test. If you take some time and actually learn the material, you should be fine. And, for the sections with which you’ve simply struggled to master, try to create a mnemonic or study tool that will help you come test day. For due dates, form numbers, numbers of years for things like NOL carryforwards or statute of limitations, you’re just going to have to sit down, read it over, and memorize the given numbers.

Take a little extra time, think about what you’re going to need to memorize and what you’re going to have to learn. If you can break up these two groups, it will help you organize your study plans. Use an EA exam review course to your advantage and work out a plan of attack.

You’ve got this, you just need to put in the effort. There’s no such thing as passing this test via shortcuts, it’s all about elbow grease and hubris!


How to Become an Enrolled AgentAn Enrolled Agent is a tax specialist who has been federally authorized to represent taxpayers before all levels of the IRS. Unlike CPAs, enrolled agents are eligible to practice in all states without additional licensing requirements.

The job of an enrolled agent is to advise, represent and prepare tax returns for individuals, corporations and trusts. Adding this useful certification to your resume could be a great accounting career move.

If you are ready to take your accounting career to the next level, but aren’t sure how to become an enrolled agent, keep reading!

Enrolled Agent Certification Steps

Unlike most other professional designations, there are no educational prerequisites for becoming an enrolled agent.

Although you don’t need a college degree or diploma, you must prove your competency for tax-related matters. There are two ways to do this:

1. Pass the Special Enrollment Exam (EA Exam)

The EA exam, also known as the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE), is a comprehensive, 3-part exam that demonstrates special competence in a wide variety of tax-related issues. You can take this exam in hundreds of national and international locations at a Prometric testing center.

The different parts of the exam can be taken in any order. The only requirement is that you must pass all three sections in order to earn your EA certification.

2. IRS Experience

Another way to become an enrolled agent is by having IRS experience. Past service or technical service with the IRS is considered acceptable.

If you choose to go this route, you must meet the following 3 requirements:

  • Must have past experience and technical service, as specified in Circular 230
  • Must apply for enrollment with Form 23
  • Must undergo a background check to verify your years of experience. Your tax transcript will also be reviewed. Any failure to file or pay your taxes in a timely matter is grounds for enrollment denial

To be considered for EA enrollment, you must have a minimum of 5 years experience.


Maintaining Your EA Certification

Part of becoming an enrolled agent means maintaining your EA certification in the future.

Enrolled agents are required to renew their license every 3 years. This ensures that EAs are up-to-date on any changes and additions to the tax code.

The IRS will notify you when your renewal cycle is approaching. You can renew online or you can complete the paper Form 8554 and mail it in.

You must also complete 72 hours of continuing education. You have 3 years (the length of the enrollment cycle) to complete these hours, however, 2 hours of Ethics must be completed annually.

Why Become An Enrolled Agent?

You should consider becoming an enrolled agent for several reasons.

  • There is a growing need for representation. In recent years, an increase in IRS enforcement has resulted in the need for more taxpayer assistance.
  • You will have unlimited earning potential. You don’t need to be hired by a firm to serve in this capacity; you can start your own business and take on as many clients as you can handle.
  • This is a recession-proof career. People will always have to pay taxes and will always need help.

If you decide to become an enrolled agent, you will be making a smart career choice that will open new doors and create potentially unlimited opportunities for yourself.

To help you pass the EA exam, you can take advantage of several EA review courses to prepare for the exam. Regardless of your learning style, there is an Enrolled Agent review course to suit your needs.