A Guide to the Enrolled Agent Credential

By Jennifer Smith, CPA, JD, CDEI
Oct 10, 2022
Guide to Enrolled Agent Credential blog
Every tax professional should seriously consider acquiring the Enrolled Agent credential. It is a prestigious designation that allows the holder to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is respected by clients and the IRS alike. 


  • What is an Enrolled Agent?
  • Why Tax Professionals Should Become Enrolled Agents
  • How To Become an Enrolled Agent
  • Maintaining the EA License
  • Enrolled Agent Continuing Education

What is an Enrolled Agent?

An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a professional who is authorized by the United States government to represent taxpayers regarding a number of issues. These include collections, audits, and tax appeals. EAs are permitted to advise taxpayers, to prepare their returns and to act on their behalf with the IRS. They may represent individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts and any other entities that are required to report to the Internal Revenue Service.  

Enrolled Agents may join the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), which represents the interests of licensed EAs. Enrolled agents are not IRS employees, but act instead on behalf of taxpayers. The Enrolled Agent license is a federal license. EAs are not required to have a state license; the federal qualification allows them to represent taxpayers in all states.

Why Tax Professionals Should Become Enrolled Agents

An Enrolled Agent is more than just a generic tax preparer. Because of their value to their clients and because the IRS recognizes their expertise, EAs have more career options and higher earning potential than non-licensed preparers. They have the knowledge and the authority to prepare more complex returns.

EAs continuously work with the tax code and have a unique opportunity to keep up to date with the most current regulatory changes. As the tax system becomes increasingly complex, EAs are ideally positioned to help taxpayers deal with the tax code. It’s a challenging career, but an Enrolled Agent can improve the lives of clients by making their dealings with the IRS easier and less stressful.

How To Become an Enrolled Agent

Most Enrolled Agent candidates are required to pass the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE). However, certain former IRS employees may be exempt. If they have five or more years of taxation experience, they may apply to become an EA while bypassing the exam. 
The aspiring EA must obtain a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) and sit for and pass the SEE. The exam is a three-part test that focuses on tax code. Most people with tax experience will not find it too difficult and will at most require a bit of focused study. Some students even take the exam while still in school. 

In addition to successfully passing the SEE, the candidate must enroll as an agent and pass a background check to ensure they are suitable to conduct business as an agent.

Maintaining the EA License

An Enrolled Agent license must be renewed every three years. The Enrolled Agent CPE requirements include 72 hours of continuing education every three years, with at least 16 hours each year, two of which must cover ethics. 

EAs who become NAEA members face a slightly more stringent requirement: 30 hours each year or 90 hours in a three-year cycle. All EAs must keep their contact information current with the IRS.

Enrolled Agent Continuing Education

WebCE is the leading provider of online Enrolled Agent CPE courses, including offering Enrolled Agent Ethics. Our CPE courses for Enrolled Agents are convenient and available online 24/7, so you can complete your EA CPE requirements at your own pace anytime, anywhere.  

All of our Enrolled Agent CPE courses are approved by the IRS to fulfill the IRS Enrolled Agent CPE requirements, and our courses are continuously updated by industry experts to include the most up-to-date tax laws and publications.