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
Per Capita Income
Fortune 500 Companies
Licensed CPA Firms
Accounting Programs in Washington
Search our comprehensive school directory to explore the accounting programs in Washington, including campus-based, online and hybrid programs.
52 schools match your search
Address & Contact Info
3000 Landerholm Cir SE
98007-6484 (425) 564-1000
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%.
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
Social Security # Requirement
Education Requirement for Licensure
150 hours (including bachelor's degree)
Participates in International Programs
Hours in Accounting
24 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours in accounting subjects of which 15 hours must be at the upper division or graduate level
Exam Sitting Requirements
Must be within 180 days of completing education requirement
1 year general experience gained through the practice of public accounting and/or employment in industry, academia, or government.
Must 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.
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.