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WASHINGTON CPA EXAM & LICENSE REQUIREMENTS 2023
We’ll explain all the steps to becoming a CPA in Washington State.
Everyone needs an accountant at some point in time. Accountants keep businesses running smoothly, they determine costs, prices and are good at valuing many different things.Accountants secure the financial future for individual clients. A good accountant is always in demand and when you begin your exploration into the career, consider what it will take to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). A CPA license from your state will put you at the very top of the profession. CPAs command some of the top-tier positions and best salaries in business. We’ll explain all the steps to becoming a CPA in Washington State.
Washington, like many states, has a four-tiered approach to licensure: Education, CPA Examination, Ethics and Experience. Their general restrictions are minimal, as they don’t require in-state residence, U.S. citizenship or even have an age limitation. You will need to have a Social Security number, however, though if you have a Green Card, it may be possible to petition the board for an exception.
The academic portion of the journey to your CPA license will likely be the most important, time-consuming and even fun parts of the process. When you first start out and you know that you want to become an accountant in Washington State, make sure that your school is accredited by an agency that the Washington Board will recognize. The Washington Board of Accountancy recognizes seven accreditation bodies:
- Accrediting Commission for Independent Colleges and Schools
- Middle States Association of College and Secondary Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
If you take any or all of your credits from a foreign institution, those transcripts must be evaluated by NASBA International Evaluation Services. Prior to enrolling in any foreign institution, you may wish to do some research to find out how successfully you can transfer the credits.
You will need 150 semester hours to acquire your CPA license, or be within 180 days of finishing those credits before you can sit for your first test of the CPA examination. Of course, you must matriculate with at least a bachelor’s degree, and a graduate degree may be preferable, given today’s competitive marketplace. In any case, work with our academic advisor to plan out your coursework so that you will meet the standards of the board.
You will need a minimum 24 semester hours in accounting courses, 15 of which must be at the upper level of the undergraduate tier, or in a graduate program. If you take graduate courses, the Washington Board awards 1.5 credits for every single credit on your transcripts. Accounting courses can include some of the following:
- Accounting information systems
- Cost Accounting
- Advanced Accounting
- Intermediate Accounting
Upper-Level Accounting courses include these subjects:
- Masters-level Accounting courses
- Financial Statement Analysis
- Forensic Accounting
- Theories of Accountancy
You will also need 24 hours of business-related courses at the undergraduate level or higher. Some acceptable courses are as follows:
- Accounting courses above and beyond the 24 hour requirements above
- Business Law
Once you have completed your education, you can schedule to sit for your first portion of the 4-part Uniform CPA Examination. The test is designed and distributed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA.) You will need to first send official transcripts from every institute of higher learning you have attended, as well as an application to the following address:
CPA Examination Services–WA
P.O. Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219
If your international coursework was evaluated, you can send the results of that evaluation to:
CPA Examination Services Washington Coordinator
P.O. Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219-8469
When your application is accepted, you will receive a Notice to Schedule which you can then use to schedule a day on which to take one of the four parts of the CPA examination. You can take the test in any order that works best for you. The four parts of the test are:
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)–This section covers financial reporting frameworks from several industry experts. Candidates are asked to compare statements that reflect different reporting standards.
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD)–This tests your knowledge of the International Standards of Auditing as well as U.S. standards.
- Regulation (REG)–Your professional and legal responsibilities are covered in this test.
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)–This portion covers general business concepts and international business. Written skills are tested in this section.
Once you have taken and passed each of the four parts with a score of 75 or better, you can then move forward to take another test—the AICPA’s Ethics Examination. You can order the 11-hour course through the AICPA website. You will receive a CD-ROM that includes everything you need to pass the ethics portion of the licensure process. Do be diligent, as you must pass the exam with a score of 90 or better.
The final portion of the CPA licensure process is a mentored working experience. The board requires 2,000 hours of work under a Washington-licensed CPA. Your mentor must have had a license for a minimum of five years. Keep diligent records of your time and the relevant accountancy skills you use. When you come to the end of your work experience program, you and your supervisor can fill out an Experience Affidavit and submit it to the board.
From Seattle to Spokane, Washington is a great, booming state in which to work as a CPA. Please visit the board’s website to find the most up-to-date information on the state’s CPA license: Washington Board of Accountancy.