Introduction

One of the larger states by both population and land area, Washington also boasts the 14th-largest GDP in the nation, with a diverse economy that includes lumber, agriculture, retail, real estate, and software development. The state is home to 10 Fortune 500 companies, with many major names that have shaped American business in the 20th and 21st centuries, including Amazon.com, Costco, Microsoft, and Starbucks. Washington’s active economy creates a desirable climate for finance professionals, and job openings for accountants and auditors in the state are expected to grow by an impressive 17.9% through 2026. The state currently employs more than 27,000 accountants at more than 900 licensed CPA firms, including offices for all the “Big Four” firms as well as Moss Adams, the largest finance firm on the West Coast.

Washington at a glance

Population 7,405,743
Per Capita Income $31,841
Unemployment Rate 4.4%
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

30,460 Employees2012
41,870 Employees2022
Washington 27.3% increase
1,397,700 Employees2012
1,537,600 Employees2022
United States 9.1% increase
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Accounting Salaries by Specialty

Washington Avg. Annual Wage United States Avg. Annual Wage

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

\ $44,080
$41,110

Payroll Clerks

\ $49,550
$44,950

Credit Counselors

\ $50,300
$49,460

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

\ $77,390
$68,420

Tax Examiners and Collectors

\ $63,990
$59,140

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

\ $76,010
$77,920

Budget Analysts

\ $74,310
$77,170

Personal Financial Advisors

\ $106,370
$109,949

Financial Managers

\ $133,100
$143,530
Source: BLS OES - Industry Profile

Top-paying cities for accountants

  1. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett Metropolitan Division
    $80,370
  2. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue
    $79,190
  3. Walla Walla
    $75,570
  4. Olympia-Tumwater
    $73,400
  5. Kennewick-Richland
    $71,970
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Major firms headquartered in Washington

Count Firm Location 2014 Revenue (in millions)
1Moss AdamsSeattle, WA$477
2Clark NuberBellevue, WA$34
3Peterson SullivanSeattle, WA$29

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 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 RequirementN/A
Citizenship RequirementNo
Residency RequirementNo
Social Security # RequirementYes
Education Requirement for LicensureBachelor's degree (150 hours)
Participates in International ProgramsYes
Hours in Accounting24 semester hours
Exam Sitting Requirements150 hours
Experience Requirements1 year of accounting experience
Ethics ExamAICPA Ethics Exam

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:$987
  • Application Fee $155
  • Auditing & Attestation $208
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting $208
  • Regulation $208
  • Business Environment & Concepts $208

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

[email protected]

Washington Society of CPAs

Address

902 140th Ave. NE
Bellevue, WA 98005

Phone Number

(425) 644-4800