How to become a CPA in Washington State - Straightforward

August 11, 2022

by:

Khaled Albadawi

for:

Diwan Accounting & Tax

If you’re wondering what it takes to become a CPA in Washington state, or how to get your CPA certification in Washington state, then this article is for you!

In this article we are going to break down the specific requirements a person has to meet to qualify to get their CPA as well as how to go about getting their CPA.

With that out of the way, lets dive right in!

Step 1: Education Requirements

According to the Washington State Board of Accountancy, there are two main portions of the education requirements: quantity of hours and type of hours.

Quantity:

To be eligible to seek your CPA exam you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree (120 hours at most schools).

Beyond your bachelor’s degree you’ll also need an additional 30 hours of study, adding up to a total of 150 semester hours.

** note – most Master’s degree programs require anywhere from 48-60 hours of study, so the additional requirements for a CPA should put you close to a Master’s degree! **

Type:

You’ll have to have your 150 hours in what is considered to be an accounting major, which is defined as including at least the following:

  • Twenty-four semester hours or the equivalent in accounting subjects of which at least fifteen semester hours must be at the upper level or graduate level; AND
  • Twenty-four semester hours or the equivalent in business-administration subjects at the undergraduate or graduate level.

The Washington State Board of Accountancy has a few different tools to help determine if you’re ready to seek your CPA exam, check out the “Information for First-Time Candidates” page or the “Education Evaluation Worksheet” to determine if you have met the qualifications.

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree, 150 total hours of credit with 30 of them graduate level and 48 in specific types of classes.

Step 2: CPA Examination

Once you’ve met the education requirements and qualifications you’ll be eligible to sit for the CPA exam.

The CPA exam is a four part test, with Washington State opting for the Uniform CPA Examination. The test is distributed and designed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

The four parts include the following:

  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  • Regulation (REG)
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

You’ll need to take each of the tests and pass with a score of 75 or higher to allow you to move forward to the Ethics Examination.

For help scheduling, applying, and paying for your exam check out this Candidate Bulletin. You can also look here for information on scoring, what to expect on test day, etc.

BONUS Step 2.1 – CPA Exam Prep Information

The CPA Exam is considered by many to be a very rigorous exam, with all of the various tests having their own difficulties you’ll have to overcome.

With that said, it is very important to make sure you are as prepared as possible. There are a whole host of different options out there to prepare, and make sure you do your homework to find the best one.

I will mention that Becker is probably the most notable one on the market, so you might want to start there.  

Step 3: Ethics Exam

Once you’ve finished your CPA Exam and passed all of the parts you’ll need to take the Ethics exam.

You’ll need a score of a 90 or higher but all relevant study material comes from an 8 hour course you can order through the AICPA’s website.

Step 4: Experience

The last step doesn’t have to be completed at the end but is still just as relevant. You’ll need to work for 2000 hours of work (roughly a year) under a Washington-licensed CPA. The CPA must have had their license for at least five years.

Make sure you keep diligent records of your time and the relevant accounting skills you use.

You’ll need your supervisor to fill out an Experience Affidavit and submit it to the board to certify your experience.

Step 5: Ongoing Study & Maintaining your License

Congratulations! After all of those steps you’ve officially received your CPA license and have proven you have a thorough knowledge of accounting. Now you have to keep up your knowledge with yearly requirements for CPEs or Continuing Professional Education.

Washington State requires CPEs be reported every three years and require 120 hours for those three years with at least 20 hours per year required (you can do 20 in years 1 and 2 but will have to do 80 in the final year).

About Us:  

In this article we discussed the many requirements it takes to become a CPA. Diwan Accounting is owned and operated by a CPA, but we’ve taken it farther than that. We specialize in small business accounting and we’ve become experts at helping them save money and control their cash flow!

We help small businesses thrive by providing them Outsourced CFO guidance, tax planning, bookkeeping, and payroll. Across the board we are a one-stop shop for any small business owner’s accounting needs. We help deliver the data and information that is often lacking in a business owner’s decision making process.

For more information about how we can help your small business please reach out for a free consultation here.

BLOG

Seattle Tax & Accounting Blog

We're trying to help our local Seattle small business and non profits with information and tips to reduce your taxes and improve your organization.