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How Long Does it Take to Become an Enrolled Agent?

How Long Does it Take to Become an Enrolled Agent

How Long Does it Take to Become an Enrolled Agent?

Based on over 20 years’ experience preparing candidates, we recommend you aim to pass the Enrolled Agent exam in one year. Ultimately, how long it takes to become an Enrolled Agent will come down to the study schedule you create and how strictly you stick to it, but one year is an attainable goal for most people. By the end of this article, you’ll have a plan that will prepare you to become an Enrolled Agent.

How long does it take to study for the EA exam?

You should plan on studying for the EA exam for at least 10 hours per week. You’ll likely need to spend an average of 5 hours on each major topic area. We’ve broken down the average number of study hours and weeks needed to prepare for each exam part.

Part 1Part 2Part 3
80-90 hours110-120 hours45-55 hours
7-9 weeks10-12 weeks4-6 weeks

If you build your study schedule around these averages, you should be able to pass a part of the EA exam within two to three months and all three parts within a year. If you need to take longer to study for the EA exam, you can set your own study pace as long as you pass within the IRS’ extended two-year carryover period Opens in new window.*

* Due to the global pandemic, the IRS extended the carryover period to three years.

The Gleim EA Review Course is broken up into study units based on the major topic areas from the IRS’ Exam Content Outlines Opens in new window for each exam part. Part 1 has 14 study units, Part 2 has 20 study units, and Part 3 has 7 study units.

We’ve outlined some sample study schedules to help you plan your studies:

10 hours per week:15+ hours per week:15-20+ hours per week:
Complete 2 study units per weekComplete 3 study units per weekComplete 4 study units per week
Sit for Part 1 in 8 weeksSit for Part 1 in 6 weeksSit for Part 1 in 5 weeks
Sit for Part 2 in 14 weeksSit for Part 2 in 9 weeksSit for Part 2 in 7 weeks
Sit for Part 3 in 6 weeksSit for Part 3 in 5 weeksSit for Part 3 in 4 weeks
28 weeks to become an EA20 weeks to become an EA16 weeks to become an EA

Studying is a process. It’s important that you take it one step at a time and break your study sessions up into manageable blocks of time. You don’t have to do your studying for the day all at once!

We also recommend finding the time and place you study best and make an effort to use it consistently. The less you have to distract you, the more you’ll get out of your study sessions.

Get more EA exam study tips that will help you stay focused and become an EA faster.

If you’re ready to start preparing for the EA exam, choose your course and start studying! You can study anywhereat home, in a coffee shop, or on the goby accessing our course from your phone, tablet, or laptop. If you can’t commit to sitting down to study for 4 hours straight (like most people), our course allows for flexibility, so you can fit in study time without completely disrupting your schedule.

How do you set up your study plan?

Before you can start studying, you’ll need to decide how soon you want to pass the EA exam. Your goal should be realistic, based on your current knowledge level and the amount of “free” time you have. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How familiar am I with the material?
  • When were my last accounting classes?
  • How much experience do I have with individual and/or business taxes?
  • How much time do I have available to study?
  • How long can I concentrate in one sitting?

Answering these questions will help you determine your starting point so that you can develop a study plan. Accounting for your current commitments at the start of the process will prevent a lot of stress down the line.

Feeling overwhelmed? You can lean on us. Our award-winning support team is here to help you stay on track. Gleim Personal Counselors are experts in setting goals, adjusting study plans, and even giving pep talks. They will be there for you every step of the way as you work toward becoming an EA.

Watch our webinar to learn how to create a study plan using Gleim. Take advantage of the Gleim Study Planner to create a study plan that lets you set goals, block out dates, and keep yourself on track. Once you establish your study schedule, you’re ready to start studying!

Other requirements to become an Enrolled Agent

Before you can determine how long it will take you to become an Enrolled Agent, you need to make sure you meet the requirements. Thankfully, there aren’t many! But you can’t skip them.

Get an overview of everything you need to know about the EA exam in our free guide!

You need a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)

All tax return preparers must have a PTIN that was obtained or renewed within the last year in order to register for the exam. You can learn more about the IRS’ PTIN requirements and how you can obtain or renew one here Opens in new window. It only takes 15 minutes for you to apply for or renew your PTIN online

File forms with Prometric

You’ll also need to set up a user profile with Prometric and fill out the necessary forms so that you can schedule an appointment Opens in new window to sit for your exam. Completing both these steps online will save you time so that you can focus on studying for the exam.

What’s next after you pass?

Once you pass all three EA exam parts and apply for enrollment Opens in new window, you’ll only need to wait about 90 more days to officially become an Enrolled Agent. You must apply within one year from the date you passed your final exam part, but why would you wait? The sooner you apply, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits of becoming an EA! After you apply to practice before the IRS, you’re just waiting for them to complete the process.

Once you’re enrolled, it’s important to maintain your credential. The IRS requires EAs to apply to renew enrollment Opens in new window every 3 years. You must also renew your PTIN annually between mid-October and December 31. Enrolled Agents must complete 72 hours of continuing education (CE) over the 3-year enrollment period. To remain active, you must complete a yearly minimum of 16 hours including 2 hours of ethics or professional conduct.

How does Gleim help?

Our Premium Review system is designed to help you study efficiently so you can pass the first time! It includes audio lectures and digital flashcards you can use on the go, and our adaptive course platform, SmartAdapt™, takes the guesswork out of studying by guiding you through the topics and helping you focus on your weak areas. Try a free demo of the Gleim Premium EA Review System to see the course for yourself and get unlimited access to an exam topic!