Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are among the most important groups of professionals in the business world. They take care of various financial and non-financial matters for individuals and businesses.

However, they have to go through rigorous testing and experience to get to work as a CPA. The requirements for becoming a CPA may vary across various states in the US.

Usually, the requirements are similar across all states. However, there might be some differences between them as well. In Washington State, CPAs must fulfill academic and experience requirements. Similarly, they must take a CPA exam to get to become a CPA.

How to become a CPA in Washington?

Aspiring CPAs must start with education first. In this process, they must understand the fundamentals of accounting, taxation, bookkeeping, and other related subjects.

The Washington State Board of Accountancy handles the educational requirement for CPAs. Once CPAs meet all of the following requirements, they can apply for the CPA license.

Academic requirements

Aspiring CPAs in Washington State must meet the following academic requirements to get become a CPA. These include the following.

  • Prospective CPAs must complete at least 150 credit hours or 225 quarter-hours from a four-year college with approved accreditation. The Washington State Board of Accountancy provides a list of approved colleges.
  • They must earn a bachelor’s degree. However, it is not necessary that a bachelor’s degree in an accounting major. However, applicants do need intense coursework in accounting.
  • They must complete the required coursework. These usually include.
    • 24 credit hours or 36 quarter-hours in accounting subjects. At least 15 credit hours must be in upper-level and graduate-level classes.
    • 24 credit hours or 36 quarter-hours in business administration subjects.
  • Applicants who have a degree from an unaccredited institution outside the state of Washington, or in a country besides the US may still qualify. However, the school and degree must go under an evaluation by a third-party to determine if it meets the state’s requirements.

Uniform CPA Exam

Once applicants satisfy the academic requirements, they can sit for the CPA exam. Candidates must have taken 150 semester hours. After they take their CPA exam, they will qualify for the CPA certification.

The Uniform CPA exam gets administered in almost every state. The test requires applicants to demonstrate core competencies and key skills.

Candidates willing to take the exam must register within 180 days of completing their education. Students can also take the exam while in school.

However, they must provide proof of enrollment and have at most 210 days left in their graduation. Once they become eligible, they must follow the steps below.

  • Candidates must apply to take the exam. The board conducts these exams through the National Associate of State Boards of Accountancy. Candidates must register for the exam online and provide the following documents.
    • An official transcript from every school listed on the Uniform Exam application.
    • A Certificate of Enrollment if they are still completing the educational requirements.
    • An International Evaluation if candidates have acquired their education outside the US. They must provide the original and translated version of their transcripts.
    • A Testing Accommodation form for disabled candidates.
  • Candidates must send the required documents to CPA Exam Services.
  • They must wait to receive their Jurisdiction ID form. This form certified that candidates are eligible to take the test.
  • They must find a testing location and pay any applicable fee.

Experience Requirements

CPA candidates must also fulfill some experience requirements alongside their education and exam. The board requires all accountants to work at a lower level before becoming eligible for a CPA license. Candidates must meet the following requirements for their experience.

  • Candidates must complete the Code of Professional Conduct course from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. They must also pass it with a score of 90% or above.
  • They must acquire the right kind of experience. It must include the practice of public accounting in either public- or private-sector organizations. Similarly, the experience must meet the following requirements.
    • It must take place over a minimum of 12 months measured.
    • It must include at least 2,000 hours of public accounting.
    • It must take place under the supervision of someone with an active Washington CPA license who have held it for at least five years.
    • It must be obtained within 8 years of when the board receives the CPA license application.
  • They must ensure that the experience covers the skills or topics deemed essential by the board. These include the following.
    • Assessing accounting objectives
    • Communicating effectively in multiple mediums and with a variety of stakeholders
    • Developing documentation and data to support conclusions
    • Thinking critically when making decisions and solving problems
    • Understanding transaction streams and information systems
  • They must provide information and documentation to prove they have met the experience requirements.
  • They must enroll in the course titled Washington State Ethics exam and Regulation for New CPAs. They must also pass it with at least a 90% score.

Summary

Given below is the summary of how to become a CPA in Washington.

  1. Candidates must enroll in an accredited university and fulfill their academic requirements.
  2. They must take and pass the Uniform CPA test.
  3. They must meet the Washington State Board of Accountancy’s experience requirements.
  4. Then they must apply for their CPA license.

References

  1. “Washington State Board of Accountancy” – https://acb.wa.gov
  2. “Become A CPA” – https://www.wscpa.org/community/future-cpas.
  3. “CPA Exam” – https://nasba.org/exams/cpaexam/