How Long Does It Take to Become an Enrolled Agent? A Comprehensive Guide

Becoming an Enrolled Agent (EA) is a noteworthy accomplishment in the realm of taxation and financial representation. An Enrolled Agent is a federally-authorized tax practitioner empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. EAs have the privilege to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), providing a valuable service in tax planning, preparation, and resolution. For individuals aspiring to attain this prestigious designation, a common question arises: “How long does it take to become an Enrolled Agent?”

Becoming an Enrolled Agent: Step by Step

Becoming an Enrolled Agent involves several distinct steps, each contributing to the accumulation of knowledge, experience, and skills necessary for effective tax representation.

1. Prerequisite Education and Experience

Before embarking on the Enrolled Agent journey, it’s crucial to possess a foundational understanding of tax regulations and practices. Many aspiring EAs opt to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or a related field. However, a degree is not mandatory. What is essential is a solid grasp of taxation concepts, which can be achieved through relevant coursework or work experience in the field of taxation.

2. IRS Enrollment

To officially become an Enrolled Agent, one must pass the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE) administered by the IRS. The SEE consists of three parts, covering individual taxation, business taxation, representation, practice, and procedures. Thorough preparation is vital for success in this comprehensive exam. Candidates can choose to study independently, attend review courses, or use online study materials to master the exam content.

3. Exam Preparation

The SEE is known for its challenging nature, and adequate preparation is a key factor in passing. Depending on the individual’s prior knowledge and study habits, exam preparation can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. The examination is computer-based, and candidates can schedule their exam appointments at their convenience, subject to availability at testing centers.

4. Exam Duration

The total time duration for completing the SEE is 9 hours, divided among the three parts of the exam. Part 1 (Individuals) and Part 2 (Businesses) each have a time limit of 3.5 hours, while Part 3 (Representation, Practice, and Procedures) has a 2.5-hour time limit. Candidates have the flexibility to take all three parts in a single day or to space them out based on their preferences and readiness.

5. Results and Retakes

After completing the SEE, candidates receive their scores immediately for Parts 1 and 2. However, the score for Part 3, which involves case studies, is released within a few weeks. If a candidate does not pass a particular part, they have the option to retake that specific part. There are no limits to the number of times a candidate can retake the exam, but a fee is applicable for each attempt.

6. Enrolled Agent Application

Once an individual successfully passes all three parts of the SEE, they can apply for enrollment as an Enrolled Agent. The application involves submitting Form 23 and paying a fee to the IRS. After the application is processed and approved, the candidate officially becomes an Enrolled Agent, gaining the authority to represent taxpayers before the IRS.

EA course Fees: Investing in Preparation

Preparing for the Special Enrollment Examination is a crucial step in the journey to becoming an Enrolled Agent. Many candidates opt for professional review courses or study materials to enhance their chances of success. However, these resources come at a cost, and it’s important to consider the EA course fees as an investment in one’s career.

1. Review Course Costs

Enrolled Agent review courses are designed to comprehensively cover the exam content and provide candidates with a structured study plan. The cost of review courses can vary significantly based on factors such as the provider’s reputation, course delivery method (in-person or online), and additional features offered.

2. Study Materials Expenses

Aside from formal review courses, candidates can also purchase study materials, such as textbooks, practice exams, and online study platforms. These materials offer flexibility in terms of self-paced learning but may lack the structured approach of formal courses.

3. Considerations for Cost

While the cost of EA course fees may seem substantial, it’s important to view this expenditure as an investment in one’s future career as an Enrolled Agent. The knowledge and skills gained through these courses can significantly enhance the candidate’s ability to pass the SEE and excel in their representation and tax-related responsibilities.


Becoming an Enrolled Agent is a journey that demands dedication, perseverance, and a solid understanding of taxation principles. The time required to complete this journey can vary based on individual factors such as prior knowledge, study habits, and exam preparation methods. The Special Enrollment Examination serves as the gateway to becoming an Enrolled Agent, and proper preparation is essential for success.

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