Written evidence of registration as public accountants shall be issued to:
(1) Any person who is a resident of this state, or practices accounting herein, who has attained the age of 19 years, and who is of good moral character and a citizen of the United States or has declared his or her intent to become a citizen, and who meets the requirements of paragraphs a., b., c., or d. of this subdivision, may, upon payment of an initial registration fee to be fixed by the board, register with the board as a public accountant on or before October 1, 1974:
a. Persons who hold themselves out to the public as public accountants and who are engaged as principals, as distinguished from employees, within this state on October 1, 1973, in the practice of public accounting as their principal occupation.
b. Persons serving in the Armed Forces of the United States of America on October 1, 1973, who immediately prior to entering such service held themselves out to the public as public accountants and were engaged as principals, as distinguished from employees, within this state in practice of public accounting as their principal occupation. In the case of any such person, the time for registration shall be extended for a period of 12 months from the time such person is separated from active duty.
c. Staff accountants employed in this state by certified public accountants or by public accountants and regularly assigned to accounting engagements on October 1, 1973.
d. Upon payment of a fee to be fixed by the board, an employee of a department, agency or instrumentality of the United States, this state or a political subdivision of this state, whose work on October 1, 1973, involves accounting or auditing activities of a type which in the opinion of the board is the equivalent of public accounting work, may file with the board a declaration that he or she intends to register as a public accountant on or before a specified later date pursuant to the provisions of this section, and upon such later specified date the board, after investigation and determination of eligibility as provided hereinafter in this section, shall so register him or her as a public accountant.
e. The board shall in each case determine whether an applicant is eligible for registration. Any individual who is so registered and who holds a permit issued under Section 34-1-11 shall be styled and known as a public accountant.
(2) From October 1, 1974, to October 1, 1978, any person who is a resident of this state, who has attained the age of 19 years, and who is of good moral character and a citizen of the United States or has declared his or her intent to become a citizen, upon payment of an initial registration fee to be fixed by the board may register with the board as a public accountant; provided, that he or she has received a college degree with a major in accounting from a four-year college accredited by a regional accreditation board such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities, or who shall have passed written examinations covering the subjects of theory of accounting, practical accounting, auditing, commercial law as affecting accountancy and the professional ethics of public accountants. The examinations shall be conducted by the board semiannually and the papers graded in a uniform manner. The questions used in all sections of the examination shall adhere to the standards established by the National Society of Public Accountants. A passing grade of 75 percent is required for registration. Examination fees shall be set by the board.