Accounting Degrees in Washington
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 21% through 2024. 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
|Per Capita Income||$31,841|
|Fortune 500 Companies||10|
|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.
- Degree Levels
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
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
- Seattle-Bellevue-Everett WA Metropolitan Division$77,640
- Mount Vernon-Anacortes$66,880
Major firms headquartered in Washington
|Count||Firm||Location||2014 Revenue (in millions)|
|1||Moss Adams||Seattle, WA||$477|
|2||Clark Nuber||Bellevue, WA||$34|
|3||Peterson Sullivan||Seattle, 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
|Social Security # Requirement||Yes|
|Education Requirement for Licensure||150 hours (including bachelor's degree)|
|Participates in International Programs||Yes|
|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|
|Experience Requirements||1 year general experience gained through the practice of public accounting and/or employment in industry, academia, or government.|
|Ethics Exam||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.Source: The American Institute of CPAs
CPA exam fees in Washington
- 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
711 Capital Way, South Suite 400
Olympia, WA 98501
Washington CPA Education Foundation
902 140th Ave. NE
Bellevue, WA 98005-3480