Learn How to Become a Licensed Certified Public Accountant In Washington
Washington, often called the Evergreen State, is the number 1 producer of apples, blueberries, and cherries in the US. In addition to its strong agricultural industry, Washington state is home to a hot bed of technology companies with Microsoft being the most notable.
With its lack of individual income tax, Washington attracts many diverse businesses creating numerous employment opportunities for certified public accountants.
Before you start your accounting career in Washington, you will need to meet the minimum qualifications. Let’s examine the WA CPA requirements and how to take the CPA exam and become a licensed CPA in Washington State.
Basic Requirements For CPA Certification in Washington
CPA candidates must meet the following CPA requirements to be eligible to take the CPA exam and become a licensed certified public accountant in Washington state:
- Must have Bachelor’s Degree
- Or be within 180 days to completing an education requirement
- Minimum Age: not required
- US Citizenship: not required
- Washington Residency: not required
- Valid Social Security Number: not required
The Washington CPA requirements are quite loose and make it advantageous for international candidates. In Washington, there is no minimum age requirement for taking the CPA exam. Likewise, you don’t need to be a US citizen or a state resident. You also do not need to have a valid social security number.
Washington CPA Certification Education Requirements
The Washington Board of Accountancy requires aspiring CPAs to complete a bachelor’s degree program with an accounting concentration (totaling a minimum of 150 college credit hours) to be eligible sit for the uniform CPA exam.
All accounting degrees must include both required accounting courses and general business courses in order to qualify.
Candidates must complete 24-semester hours or 36 credit hours of accounting coursework including:
- Information Systems
General Business Coursework
Likewise, candidates must complete 24 semester hours in business-related courses such as:
- Business law
The Board requires all academic credentials to be obtained for an accredited institution. If you are an international candidate, it’s advisable to get your educational credits approved by the WA State Board of Accountancy prior to applying for the CPA exam to ensure they meet the minimum Washington CPA requirements.
Washington CPA Exam Requirements
Washington allows candidates to take the CPA exam before they graduate college as long as they are within 180 days of graduation and have met the minimum educational requirements.
The Washington CPA exam requires candidates to submit the following application documents:
- College transcripts from all Educational Institutions attended
- Government Issued ID
- Application fees
The CPA Examination Services, which operates under NASBA, processes and verifies eligibility for the CPA test. Likewise, candidates must apply to take the test through the CPAES. Successful candidates are notified via mail with the issuance of Notice to Schedule, which is essentially the go-ahead to apply and schedule the CPA test.
Once you receive your NTS from NASBA, you are able to schedule your exam testing dates on the Prometric website. Make sure to only schedule the exams that you want to take in the next 6 months. Otherwise, your NTS will expire and you will have to pay an additional application fee to receive another one.
The four parts of the CPA exam include:
Financial accounting and Reporting: examines aspiring CPAs’ knowledge of various financial reporting frameworks. It also looks at the candidate’s ability to compare statements from various reporting standards.
Auditing And Attestation: examine candidates’ knowledge of international standards pertaining to auditing and auditing processes.
Regulation test: examines candidate’s knowledge of various professional and legal responsibilities.
Business Environment and Concepts: the test covers all the general business concepts as well as knowledge of international business
It’s important that you study and prepare for the exam. Most candidates study with a review course, but even with the most effective CPA study materials the pass rate is only about 50%. It’s a tough test!
You must score a 75 on each in order to pass. If you fail a section, you will need to re-apply for that section and pay the testing fees for that section again.
WA CPA Exam Costs & Fees
The cost of the CPA exam in Washington is $743 plus an initial $155 application fee. The re-examination fee varies between $75 and $120, depending on the number of sections one is taking.
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD): $195.35
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): $176.25
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): $195.35
- Regulation (REG): $176.25
- Application Fee: $155
Keep in mind to only schedule the exams that you want to take in the next 6 months as the registration fees can start to add up if your NTS expires.
Washington CPA License Requirements
The process of becoming a licensed CPA in Washington can be confusing for first-time applicants because there are several steps. To become a licensed certified public accountant in the state of Washington, the WA Board of Accountancy requires that you to meet the following:
- Complete Bachelor’s Degree program with 150 hours of college credits
- Pass the Uniform CPA exam
- Pass the Ethics test
- Complete 1- year work experience
You must file your CPA application with the Board along with your college transcripts and work experience reports. Once the Board reviews and approves your application, the Board will issue you a license number.
CPAs may begin practicing once a license number is issued and they appear on the Board’s license verification board.
AICPA Ethics Exam
Aspiring CPAs who pass the uniform CPA exam in Washington must take the AICPA Ethics test as it is one of the CPA licensure requirements. The open test book is not as rigorous as the Uniform CPA test. However, candidates must score more than 90% for a pass.
Work Experience Requirements
Upon taking and passing the CPA and the Ethics exam, the next step to becoming a CPA in Washington involves completing a work experience program. The Board requires aspiring CPAs to accrue one year of work experience supervised by an active CPA in good standing.
The work experience CPA requirement can be fulfilled in a government department, private or public sector, or academia.
The work experience should demonstrate that an candidate has garnered the necessary experience in auditing, taxation, and financial advice and consultation. Likewise, you must also show experience in financial accounting and financial statement preparation.
Washington CPA License Application & Renewal
In Washington, CPA license holders must renew their licenses every three years and complete 120 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) in that three year period.
This renewal process is easy and can be done online through the Washington State Board website. You will need to fill out your CPA renewal form and submit copies of your CPE certificates as proof of your CPE credits. You will also need to remit the CPA license renewal fee.
The three-year renewal period is much more convenient that other states that require CPAs to renew their license every year.
Washington CPA Salary
Washington boasts of one of the highest salaries for licensed CPAs. The average Washington CPA salary is $81,000 per year according to the Washington State Labor Bureau. This average includes public and private accountants from tax and audit practices.
Washington has more than 30,000 accountants making it one of the largest states for accounting professionals. The employment opportunities careers in accounting risk managers, sports auditor financial analyst, management accountants, financial analysts, and more.
Additional Washington CPA Resources
Here are a number of resources that show how to take the CPA exam in Washington and become a certified public accountant.