Introduction

Washington is home to over 920 licensed CPA firms serving the state’s seven million residents and businesses. The Washington state economy is robust, ranking 6th in the nation in terms of gross domestic product. The state’s business community is anchored by the presence of nine Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Costco and Starbucks. Washington’s per capita GDP averaged to a healthy $54,654 in 2014.

Included in Washington’s 923 licensed CPA firms are the Big Four International Accounting firms of Deloitte and Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Pricewaterhouse. The diverse nature of the Washington economy ensures an eclectic array of opportunities for accountants and auditors in industries as far flung as winemaking and robotics.

Washington at a glance

Population 7,061,530
Per Capita Income $45,413
Unemployment Rate 5.9%
Fortune 500 Companies 9
Licensed CPA Firms 923

Accounting Programs in Washington

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

Accounting Salaries and Employment

Washington’s 30,340 auditors and accountants earn an average annual salary of $72,950, which is comparable to national salary averages. One area in which the state bucks national trends is job growth. Between 2012 and 2022, the BLS projects that the number of accounting positions in Washington state will grow by over 20%, resulting in the creation of over six thousand additional openings. Nationally, the BLS predicts a far more modest growth rate of 13.1%.

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

30,340 Employees2012
36,850 Employees2022
Washington 17.7% increase
1,275,400 Employees2012
1,442,200 Employees2022
United States 11.6% increase
Source: U.S. Department of Labor

Accounting Salaries by Specialty

Washington Avg. Annual Wage United States Avg. Annual Wage

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

\ $40,940
$37,250

Payroll Clerks

\ $43,880
$39,850

Credit Counselors

\ $43,960
$44,960

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

\ $69,190
$63,660

Tax Examiners and Collectors

\ $51,290
$56,120

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

\ $72,950
$72,500

Budget Analysts

\ $75,410
$72,560

Personal Financial Advisors

\ $120,670
$99,920

Actuaries

\ $98,550
$107,740

Financial Managers

\ $112,460
$126,660
Source: BLS OES

Top-paying cities for accountants

  1. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett WA Metropolitan Division
    $77,640
  2. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue
    $76,720
  3. Bremerton-Silverdale
    $74,040
  4. Mount Vernon-Anacortes
    $66,880
  5. Kennewick-Pasco-Richland
    $66,820
Source: OES Data Tool

Major firms headquartered in Washington

Count Firm Location 2014 Revenue (in millions)
1Moss AdamsSeattle, WA$403
2Clark NuberBellevue, WA$30
3Peterson SullivanSeattle, WA$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"

Becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) in Washington

Prospective CPAs in Washington must sit for and pass the Uniform CPA Exam. The examination is administered by National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Candidates must also meet these minimum eligibility requirements:

  • 150 credit hours of post secondary education
  • 24 credit hours of upper level accounting courses
  • 15 credit hours of graduate level accounting courses
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university

Washington’s eligibility requirements mirror those of other states and are based on standards developed by the NASBA. As such, Washington State participates in the CPA Mobility program designed by the AICPA to allow CPAs from participating states to become licensed in Washington.

Eligibility for CPA Licensure in Washington

Candidates for licensure must complete a minimum of 2,000 hours of professional accounting work over the course of a single year. The experience must be verified by a currently licensed Washington CPA who must complete the Experience Affidavit.

In light of the fact that it is not uncommon for candidates to require more than one attempt to complete the Uniform CPA Exam, the state board allows candidates to apply for re-examination of one or more sections within 18 months of their first attempt. Candidates who apply for re-examination are subject to fees based on the number of sections they are seeking to re-take:

  • 4 Sections $120
  • 3 sections $105
  • 2 sections $90
  • 1 section $75
Age RequirementNone
Citizenship RequirementNo
Residency RequirementNo
Social Security # RequirementYes
Education Requirement for Licensure150 hours (including bachelor's degree)
Participates in International ProgramsYes
Hours in Accounting24 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours in accounting subjects of which 15 hours must be at the upper division or graduate level
Exam Sitting RequirementsMust be within 180 days of completing education requirement
Experience Requirements1 year general experience gained through the practice of public accounting and/or employment in industry, academia, or government.
Ethics ExamMust pass AICPA Professional Ethics Exam for initial licensure

The rules and regulations that pertain to CPA licensing in Washington are governed by the Washington State Board of Accountancy and are covered under the Public Accountancy Act Chapter 18.04 RCW and are available on through the board’s website.

Source: The American Institute of CPAs

CPA exam fees in Washington

Total:N/A
  • Application Fee N/A
  • Auditing & Attestation N/A
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting N/A
  • Regulation N/A
  • Business Environment & Concepts N/A

Schools Ranked by CPA Pass Rates, 2014

RankLogoSchool NameCandidatesPass RateAverage Score

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 Washington State Board of Accountancy is a consumer protection agency that officially licenses CPAs and monitors the industry’s adherence to the ethical and educational compliance standards set forth by the NASBA.

The Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants is a voluntary professional membership organization with more than 10,000 members from private industry and government agencies.

Washington Board of Accountancy

Address

711 Capital Way, South Suite 400
Olympia, WA 98501

Phone Number

(360) 753-2586

Washington CPA Education Foundation

Address

902 140th Ave. NE
Bellevue, WA 98005-3480

Email

foundation@wscpa.org

Washington Society of CPAs

Address

902 140th Ave. NE
Bellevue, WA 98005

Phone Number

(425) 644-4800