Accounting Degrees in California
California has the largest economy in the U.S. and in terms of growth, leads the nation in several sectors, including technology, biotech, agriculture, entertainment, manufacturing and tourism. The state’s more than 150,000 accountants play a key role in keeping these state industries successful and competitive.
All of the “Big Four” international CPA firms have offices in California (Deloitte & Touche, KPMG, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Ernst & Young). On its own, California is home to over 6,300 CPA offices and grants approximately [number] of new CPA licenses each year.
California at a glance
|Per Capita Income||$47,401|
|Fortune 500 Companies||54|
|Licensed CPA Firms||6,362|
Accounting Programs in California
Search our comprehensive school directory to explore the accounting programs in California, including campus-based, online and hybrid programs.
- Degree Levels
Accounting Salaries and Employment
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of accounting jobs in California will rise by nearly 17% between 2012-22. That increase amounts to more than 25,000 new accounting jobs created each year in the Golden State.
California’s anticipated rate of growth for CPAs outpaces the expected national average by almost 4%. With a mean annual income of $78,000, California CPAs are the highest paid in the nation.
Projected Job Growth for Accountants
Accounting Salaries by Specialty
Associate Degree Recommended
Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks
Bachelor's Degree Recommended
Tax Examiners and Collectors
Master's Degree Recommended
Accountants and Auditors
Personal Financial Advisors
Top-paying cities for accountants
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara$92,950
- Sacramento-Arden Arcade-Roseville$90,850
- San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City$87,840
- San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont$85,910
Major firms headquartered in California
|Count||Firm||Location||2014 Revenue (in millions)|
|1||Armanino||San Ramon, CA||$112|
|2||Novogradac & Co.||San Francisco, CA||$92|
|3||Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt||Los Angeles, CA||$86|
|4||Burr Pilger Mayer Inc.||San Francisco, CA||$68|
|5||Frank, Rimerman & Co.||Palo Alto, CA||$61|
|6||Nigro Karlin Segal Fieldstein and Bolno||Los Angeles, CA||$56|
|7||Squar Milner||Newport Beach, CA||$45|
|8||SingerLewak||Los Angeles, CA||$38|
|9||Miller Kaplan Arase||North Hollywood, CA||$38|
Accounting Today named these firms among the highest performing in a multi-state region. Rankings as based upon reported net revenues from 2014. Source: Accounting today "Top 100 Firms"
Becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) in California
The rules for becoming a CPA in California are in a state of transition. There are currently three active sets of criteria two of which only apply to individuals who passed all four parts of the Uniform CPA Exam prior to December 31st 2013. The third set of standards applies to all others but will only remain in effect until January, 2017 when a permanent set of standards that includes 10 credits of ethics education take effect.
When these changes in California’s CPA requirements take full effect in 2017 their licensing requirements will become the most rigorous in the United States.
Eligibility for CPA Licensure in California
For now, California closely follows the same national standards as other states. Therefore candidates are required to complete 150 credit hours of postsecondary education and posses at least a bachelor’s degree before they are eligible to sit for the CPA exam.
California’s work experience requirements for licensure depend upon if and when the applicant passed the Uniform CPA Exam. The education requirements are available in the CPA Licensing Handbook.
|Social Security # Requirement||Yes for Licensure|
|Education Requirement for Licensure||Complete 150 credit hours (including a bachelor's degree) and fulfill specific course requirements as outlined here|
|Hours in Accounting||Transcripts proving 24 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours in accounting and 24 hours of business-related courses|
|Exam Sitting Requirements||Four-year bachelor's degree or higher from a nationally or regionally accredited U.S. degree-granting educational institution|
|Experience Requirements||1-2 years of general experience which includes any type of service or advice involving the use of accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, tax or consulting skills.|
|Ethics Exam||Must pass the California Professional Ethics Exam|
In 2012 California enacted the Practice Privilege Provisions which apply to CPAs who are licensed in other US states and Canada.
Source: The American Institute of CPAsSource: The American Institute of CPAs
CPA exam fees in California
- Application Fee $50
- Auditing & Attestation $192
- Financial Accounting & Reporting $192
- Regulation $172
- Business Environment & Concepts $172
Special Fees: $50 re-examination application fee (If you fail one section of the exam you can pay to re-register for just that portion of the exam. All sections must be passed within 18 months of your first test date.)
Source: California Board of Accountancy
Schools Ranked by CPA Pass Rates, 2014
|Rank||Logo||School Name||Candidates||Pass Rate||Average Score|
|1||University of California - Berkeley||100||70.4%||78.3|
|2||University of California - Los Angeles||250||69.6%||77.1|
|3||University of Southern California||304||69%||77.7|
|5||California State University - San Marcos||20||64.4%||77.8|
|6||San Diego State University||145||63.3%||75.6|
|7||San Jose State University||108||59.5%||74.6|
|8||Loyola Marymount University||46||58.9%||74.6|
|9||California State University - Northridge||98||58.4%||73.9|
|10||San Francisco State University||57||57.6%||74.4|
Schools are ranked by pass rate unless otherwise noted. Results are comprised of scores from both first-time test takers and those returning to take the whole exam or specific sections of it again. Source: National State Boards of Accountancy
Certifying and Professional Organizations
California’s CPA eligibility and licensing requirements; current and pending, are enumerated in Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations. They are available online through the California State Board of Accountancy.
The California Board of Accountancy has made a report title the Sunset Review Report detailing pending changes in regulations.
California Board of Accountancy
2000 Evergreen Street, Ste. 250
Sacramento, CA 95815
California CPA Education Foundation
1201 K Street, Ste. 1,000
Sacramento, CA 95814