How to Become a CPA in Washington State

If you want to become a Certified Public Accountant in Washington State, you have come to the right place. The Washington State CPA requirements are basic, but the steps are detailed. After finishing a bachelor’s degree in any field, the applicant must also earn 30 credit hours of accounting or business courses. Once 150 hours of total coursework are earned in an accredited college or university, and the state-specific courses required passed, the applicant must sit for and pass all four sections of the uniform CPA exam with a score a 75% or better on each. The final step is to find a job in the field for at least a year, under the supervision of a licensed CPA. If you have all of these things completed, congratulations, you are about to be a CPA. If you need to know more about these steps, read on.

A LITTLE ABOUT THE ECONOMY IN WASHINGTON STATE

Washington State has a rich history and a strong economy. The original industry that was an economic powerhouse during the 19th century and the era of westward expansion was Timber. Logging and everything that came along with it built the urbanized areas of the state, and the legacy of that remains. Eventually, both agriculture and the commercial fishing industry operated out of Washington state. For now, Tech runs The Evergreen State. Of the 10 companies that Washington has in the Fortune 500, half are tech giants including Amazon and Microsoft. Retailers Starbucks, Costco, and Nordstrom each call Washington home as well. The average per capita personal income in 2017 was $56,283, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. This is up from the national average of around $50 thousand. In the same year, Washington’s Gross State Product earned them $506.4 billion which ranks 13th in the United States.

QUICK NEW YORK FACTS

source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

WHO REGULATES CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING?

Anyone who wishes to become a CPA in the United States, must sit for and pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (Uniform CPA Exam). The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the body that creates and regulates the exam, and National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) administers it in each state. The Uniform CPA Exam is the same, or uniform, in every state, however, the requirements for being eligible to sit for the exam, and subsequently passing, determines if you can be licensed in your state.

The national requirements to become a CPA have four basic starting points. First, licensees have completed 150-semester units of postsecondary education. The first 120 or so (bachelor’s degree) can be in any degree field, but business and accounting majors get a leg up on the specific coursework requirements at the state level. Next, they must take a state-specified set of accounting and business courses (outlined below) to complete the remaining 30 credit hour education requirement. Third, they must pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. Finally, applicants must complete one year of accounting related work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA to be considered for licensing.

ACCOUNTING DEGREES IN WASHINGTON STATE

source: college/university websites

The requirements for the state of Washington to grant CPA licenses to applicants include several specific guidelines. The Washington State Board of Public Accountancy website has all of this information as well as printable license applications and more. Proof of these completed requirements should be turned in upon applying for the CPA license. This means that all steps must be completed adequately prior to submitting your application. Applicants must complete one year of general experience gained through the practice of public accounting and/or employment in industry, academia, or government. They must also pass the AICPA Professional Ethics Exam for initial licensure.

The specific academic requirements during the 150 hours of coursework for CPA to be considered for licensure in Washington includes 24 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours in accounting subjects, 15 of them being at the upper division or graduate level. To sit for the exam, the applicant must have completed their education requirement less than 180 days prior.

CPA LICENSURE IN WASHINGTON STATE, STEPS TOWARD ELIGIBILITY

To be eligible for CPA licensure in Washington, candidates must meet these following qualifications:

content source: National Association of State Boards of Accountancy

CPAs in every state must remain active in their field, and continue to learn about this dynamic profession. To remain licensed in the state of Washington, accountants must complete a minimum of 80 Continued Professional Education (CPE) hours every two years, with at least 20 hours minimum each of those years.  The license renewal date is the last day of each year, but for CPAs with an even license number it is 12/31 of even years, and for those with odd-numbered licenses it is 12/31 of odd years. CPAs are required to take 4 ethics courses from a board-approved instructors and two hours state-specific ethics course which are designed to familiarize the licensee with accountancy law and rules as well as professional ethics.

Washington also requires CPAs to earn at least 40 hours in technical subjects including accounting, governmental accounting, auditing, governmental auditing, business law, economics, finance, information technology, management services, regulatory ethics, specialized knowledge, statistics, or taxes. Accounting professionals can receive credit for 50% of the total hours spent instructing, up to three hours credit for each hour of class time. Authorship credit can be earned as CPE, provided that a copy of the published article or book shall be made available to the Board if CPE records are audited. The maximum credit for published articles/books is 50% of total hours. For those CPAs who are studying at a university or college for accounting credit, one semester hour equals 15 CPE hours.

BEST CITIES IN STATE TO WORK AS AN ACCOUNTANT (SALARY)

content source: Source: BLS Data

Federal regulations were passed in 2007 that makes it possible for CPAs to continue to work with pre-existing clients, even if the client or the CPA move themselves or their business across state lines. Since this regulation has taken effect, it has been seen as a generally great option for CPAs to work in non-licensing states, regardless of the history of their relationship to a client. Prior to 07, if both client and accountant were required to conduct business in the same state. The regulating bodies who organized this new governance are the NASBA and AICPA.

The regulation is called the Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA), and it comes with the language associated with moving across state lines in section 23. It is referred to as “no notice, no fee, no escape.” This section is often compared to the driver’s license model, because like with a driver’s license, you can be licensed in one state, and drive in any other state without applying for a new license. If you were to break a traffic law of the state you visit outside your licensing state, where the infraction occurred, would be responsible for enforcing the law or correcting your error. The same applies to the UAA.

content source: Source: BLS Data

Each State has a board of State Society or professional organization for accountants. The Washington Association of Accountants is the Washington Society of CPAs, and their website has all sorts of helpful information for future and current CPAs, as well as CPE requirements and information for conferences and CPE events that are specific to Arkansas. Membership in a state professional organization will also ensure that CPAs are up to date on any tax law changes, which happen constantly, and give working professionals a great way to network and meet colleagues.