Introduction

Ranking 19th among U.S. states for GDP, Colorado is home to a strong, stable economy that’s only growing larger as traditional state industries like mining and natural resources are matched and often surpassed by burgeoning finance, tech, and healthcare sectors. The bulk of the state’s CPA positions are found in cities and towns clustered along the front range of the Rocky Mountains, like Denver and Colorado Springs. Colorado’s unemployment rate of 2.5% is well below the national average and has reached historic lows in recent years. The state’s projected job growth for accountants through 2024 is 27%, which puts it among the fastest growing states in the country. Accountants can also expect to earn a mean annual wage of $77,400—also far above the national average.

Colorado at a glance

Population 5,541,000
Per Capita Income $32,357
Unemployment Rate 2.4%
Fortune 500 Companies 10
Licensed CPA Firms 1,385

Accounting Programs in Colorado

Search our comprehensive school directory to explore the accounting programs in Colorado, including campus-based, online and hybrid programs.

Accounting Salaries and Employment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the need for CPAs across Colorado will grow at more than twice the national rate of 13% with expansion of 28.4% anticipated through 2022. The addition of more than 10,000 positions in less than 10 years makes Colorado a very attractive location for current and prospective CPAs.

The mean income for CPAs here is slightly higher than the national average at $74,020 per year and 33% higher than the mean income for all positions in the state.

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

33,870 Employees2012
43,490 Employees2022
Colorado 22.1% increase
1,275,400 Employees2012
1,442,200 Employees2022
United States 11.6% increase
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Accounting Salaries by Specialty

Colorado Avg. Annual Wage United States Avg. Annual Wage

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

\ $38,060
$37,250

Payroll Clerks

\ $43,830
$39,850

Credit Counselors

\ $59,370
$44,960

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

\ $62,900
$63,660

Tax Examiners and Collectors

\ $62,770
$56,120

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

\ $74,020
$72,500

Budget Analysts

\ $74,730
$72,560

Personal Financial Advisors

\ $97,450
$99,920

Financial Managers

\ $146,320
$107,740
Source: BLS OES - Industry Profile

Top-paying cities for accountants

  1. Denver-Aurora-Broomfield
    $76,990
  2. Boulder
    $76,260
  3. Greeley
    $71,650
  4. Colorado Springs
    $65,700
  5. Pueblo
    $65,310
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Major firms headquartered in Colorado

Count Firm Location 2014 Revenue (in millions)
1Dalby, Wendland & Co.Grand Junction, CO$13
2EKS&HDenver, CO$95
3Hein & AssociatesDenver, CO$53
4RGL ForensicsDenver, CO$38
5Anton Collins MitchellDenver, CO$16

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 and Regional Leaders"

Becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) in Colorado

Those interested in becoming a CPA in this state must sit for the uniform CPA exam administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. In order to qualify to sit for the exam, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Are at least 18 years of age
  • Have earned at least a bachelor’s degree
  • Earned a minimum of 150 Credit hours of postsecondary education
  • Accumulated at least 1,800 hours of practical employment experience under the direct supervision of a licensed CPA

Like many other states, Colorado participates in the CPA Mobility Initiative developed in tandem with the National Association of State Boards (NASB) of Accountancy and the American Society of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The initiative enables CPAs to transfer their current valid licenses from other states to Colorado provided they are in compliance with their own state jurisdiction’s requirements.

Eligibility for CPA Licensure in Colorado

For an applicant to be eligible to become a licensed CPA in Colorado they must be a US citizen or permanent legal resident with a valid social security number. Applicants must also pass all four parts of the uniform CPA exam.

Passing all sections of the exam in a single sitting is not common, so candidates are allowed 18 months to retake certain sections and fulfill the testing requirement.

CPAs who were certified prior to adoption of the national standards either in Colorado or elsewhere are not required to meet the current standards in order to become licensed in the state.

Age RequirementNone
Citizenship RequirementNo
Residency RequirementNo
Social Security # RequirementYes
Education Requirement for LicensurePrior to July 1, 2015: B.A. degree with a concentration in accounting or a B.A. degree with a non-accounting concentration with supplemental courses that the Board feels covers an accounting concentration On or after July 1, 2015: 150 hours including BA degree.
International ProgramsYes
Hours in AccountingPrior to July 1, 2015: 27 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours in accounting (some can be intermediate or advanced courses in accounting) On or after July 1, 2015: 27 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours in upper-division accounting. 6 hours must be in auditing of which 3 hours must cover Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS). 3 separate hours of accounting ethics is also required.
Exam Sitting RequirementsBachelor's degree
Experience Requirements1 year of employment for one or more employers as an employee of a CPA. The experience may be gained through public accounting, industry, government or academia. Prior to July 1, 2015: In lieu of experience you may satisfy the experience requirement with a BA degree + 30 semester hours of non-duplicative study which includes a total of 45 semester hours in accounting subjects including the 6 auditing hours as outlined above in the education section. Semester hours can be substituted with equivalent quarter hours.
Ethics ExamMust pass AICPA Ethics exam for initial licensure.

Licensing and eligibility requirements for Colorado CPAs are governed by the Colorado State Board of Accountancy, which is a division of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. Eligibility and licensing requirements are governed by the Accountancy Practice Act of 2011 and is available online.

Source: The American Institute of CPAs

CPA exam fees in Colorado

Total:$982
  • Application Fee $150
  • Auditing & Attestation $208
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting $208
  • Regulation $208
  • Business Environment & Concepts $208

Applicants who do not pass all four parts on their first attempt are subject to a re-examination fee of $75 each time they apply to retake one or more sections of the test.

Source: Colorado Board of Accountancy

Certifying and Professional Organizations

The Colorado Board of Accountancy provides licensing and regulatory oversight to Colorado CPAs and through its website provides the public with the ability to verify licenses and file complaints. The state board does not administer or grade CPA exams.

The Colorado Society of Public Accountants is the professional membership organization for CPAs throughout the state. The COCPA provides members with educational (CPE) opportunities as well as legislative support and advocacy.

Colorado Board of Accountancy

Address

1560 Broadway, Suite 1350
Denver, CO 80202

Phone Number

(303) 894-7693

Colorado CPA Education Foundation

Address

6870 West 52nd Avenue, Suite 103
Arvada, CO 80002

Email

COGives@CommunityFirstFoundation.org

Colorado Society of Certified Public Accountants

Address

7887 E. Belleview Ave Suite 200
Englewood, CO 80111-6076

Phone Number

1-800-523-9082