Accounting Degrees in Colorado
The Big Four international firms; Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte & Touche and KPMG together employ more than 600 CPAs in the state. The state has an additional 1,385 CPA firms licensed, but many CPAs work in the state’s other sectors.
The Colorado economy is booming, ranking third amongst all states in terms of per capita GSP. Traditional state industries like mining and natural resources are matched and often surpassed by burgeoning finance, tech and healthcare industries in the state. The bulk of the state’s CPA positions are in cities and towns that are clustered along the front range of the Rocky Mountains in cities like Denver and Colorado Springs. Unemployment here is well below the national average and is expected to remain at or near record lows for the foreseeable future.
Colorado at a glance
|Per Capita Income||$45,135|
|Fortune 500 Companies||9|
|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.
- Degree Levels
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
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
- Colorado Springs$65,700
Major firms headquartered in Colorado
|Count||Firm||Location||2014 Revenue (in millions)|
|1||Dalby, Wendland & Co.||Grand Junction, CO||$11|
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 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.
|Social Security # Requirement||Yes|
|Education Requirement for Licensure||Prior 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.|
|Hours in Accounting||Prior 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 Requirements||Bachelor's degree|
|Experience Requirements||1 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 Exam||Must 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
- Application Fee $150
- Auditing & Attestation $192
- Financial Accounting & Reporting $192
- Regulation $172
- Business Environment & Concepts $172
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
Schools Ranked by CPA Pass Rates, 2014
|Rank||Logo||School Name||Candidates||Pass Rate||Average Score|
|1||University of Denver||141||65.3%||76.7|
|2||University of Colorado - Boulder||193||63.4%||76.8|
|3||Colorado Christian University||14||61.3%||73.4|
|4||University of Colorado - Colorado Springs||47||56.1%||74.3|
|5||Colorado State University||177||54.6%||73.6|
|6||Western State Colorado University||17||50%||74.8|
|7||Metropolitan State University of Denver||123||46.8%||70.9|
|8||Adams State University||12||42.9%||69.6|
|9||University of Northern Colorado||70||42.4%||70.7|
|10||Colorado Mesa University||37||38.9%||71|
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
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
1560 Broadway, Suite 1350
Denver, CO 80202
Colorado CPA Education Foundation
6870 West 52nd Avenue, Suite 103
Arvada, CO 80002