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Washington CPA Exam Requirements
How to Save Yourself MONTHS of Time and Frustration
Keep in mind that the CPA exam is the one part of getting your CPA license that you can control how long it takes. The education and experience requirements take as long as they take, but the CPA exams can take you as little as 6 months, or as long as multiple years… depending on how effective your study process is from the beginning.
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Summary of Washington CPA Requirements
|Credit Hours to sit for the CPA Exam
|Credit Hours in Accounting subjects to sit for the CPA Exam (*including below)
|*Credit Hours in Upper-level Accounting subjects to sit for the CPA Exam
|Credit Hours in Business subjects to sit for the CPA Exam
|Bachelor’s Required to sit for the CPA Exam
|Required CPE Hours Every Three Years
The first and likely essential process is making sure the Washington State Board of Accountancy accredits your college or university. While some states allow candidates to sit in the exam for 120 semester hours, here are the Washington CPA educational requirements needed to qualify for the CPA Uniform Examination:
- At least 150 semester hours of college education
- A bachelor’s degree or higher
- A concentration or major in accounting which includes these acceptable accounting courses:
- Successful completion of 24 semester hours in accounting subjects with at least 15 semester hours at the upper level course or graduate level.
- Successful completion of 24 semester hours in business administration subjects at undergraduate or graduate level.
Outside US Education and Non-Accredited US College or University
Washington State does accept candidates outside the US and those with non-accredited US colleges or universities. Submit your education documents and have your school evaluated by NASBA International Evaluation Services (NIES).
CPA Examination Preparation
These requirements ensure that candidates are well informed about the examination process and thoroughly familiar with examination functionality, format and instructions.
CPA Examination Application Process
When you’ve completed your education and made sure you qualify, you can apply for the Uniform CPA examination. The Washington board contract with CPA Examination Services (CPAES) and are responsible for application processing for Washington’s CPA exam applicants. Submit all the necessary forms and pay the required fees. Be sure not to miss any documents to prevent delays in your application process.
Washington State happens to be one of the jurisdictions that participate in the international administration of the CPA Exam. To apply, additional requirements are:
- Make a commitment to seek CPA licensure upon passing the CPA Examination, and thereafter maintain their status as licensees.
- Meet citizenship/residency requirements.
- Provide demographic information.
- Pay additional fees.
Candidates who are qualified are allowed to schedule their exams at selected international locations. Countries that offer the exam are India, Nepal, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.
Information and Documents Needed for CPA Candidates
Candidates will have to submit their Washington CPA exam requirements online via CPA Central to take the Uniform CPA Exam. You will need to create a user account upon your first usage of the online application tool. Having an account will enable you to apply for the exam, check your status and reprint your Notice to Schedule.
For candidates who have applied outside the application tool, you have to import your previous application information by including the jurisdiction from the first exam you sat on and the jurisdiction ID number.
Documents to Submit
Once you’ve created your account, you will be required to submit the following documents:
- Official Transcripts
- Certificate of Enrollment (If applicable)
- International Evaluation (If applicable)
- International Transcripts (If applicable)
- Testing Accommodations Request Form (If applicable)
Washington CPA Exam Cost Breakdown
The Washington CPA exam cost consists of four main fees: the education evaluation application fee of $90 for all sections of the exam, the $354.80 per CPA exam section totaling $1,419.20 for all four sections, an initial CPA license fee of $100 and a renewal fee of $230.
|Education Evaluation Application Fee
|Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
|Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
|Disciplines (ISC, TCP, or BAR)
|Total for all 4 CPA Exam Sections
|Initial CPA License Application
|Late Renewal Fee
Notice to Schedule (NTS)
Once you’ve been determined eligible to take the Uniform CPA Examination and paid all fees, you will receive an email from NASBA notifying that your Notice to Schedule (NTS) is ready for viewing and to print from your NASBA CPA Candidate Account. Your NTS will list the sections of the examination that you are approved to take, enabling you to contact Prometric to begin the scheduling process both for domestic and international examinations.
Taking the Washington CPA Exam
Before taking your test, you must present your NTS and personal identification. Both must be in the same form and order. You will not be permitted to take the test if there is any difference from your identifications at check-in.
The CPA exam consists of the three core sections and candidates would need to select one of the three discipline to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge, allowing candidates to choose a specialization. There is no set order in which the exam portions must be completed. The components of the CPA test are as follows:
- Auditing and Attestation. This exam section covers the basics of financial and attest services, such as audits, reviews, compilations, and preparing agreements.
- Financial Accounting and Reporting. This exam section covers financial accounting topics for all business entities, including the government and nonprofits.
- Regulation. This exam section covers federal taxation, tax services, professional ethics, and business law for individuals and business entities.
- Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR): Focused on financial reporting, data analytics, and performance management. This area is suitable for those who are interested in financial analysis and reporting. An extension of FAR core.
- Information Systems and Controls (ISC): Concentrates on IT governance, data security, and system controls. Ideal for individuals who wish to specialize in IT audits and information security. An extension of AUD core.
- Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP): Centers on personal financial planning and tax compliance for individuals, businesses, and other entities. Suitable for those with a strong interest in taxation and financial planning. An extension of REG core.
You may take the required test sections in any order, but you must pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination within an 18-month period beginning on the date the first examination section completed was taken. All components must be passed within the 18-month term. Any exam taken outside of the 18-month timeframe will result in a loss of credit.
After passing the CPA examination, the next requirement is the Washington CPA experience requirements. These experiences must include the following:
- Obtained through the practice of public accounting and/or employment in industry or government.
- A minimum of 12-months which consists of at least 2,000 working hours, through the use of accounting, issuing reports on financial statements, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, tax advisory or consulting skills.
- Provides an opportunity for the applicant to utilize the skills generally used in business, accounting and auditing.
- Obtained within eight years prior to the date the Board receives a complete license application.
- Occur in a work environment and include tasks that provide an opportunity to obtain the competencies.
- Be verified by a licensed CPA who holds a valid license to practice public accounting in a US jurisdiction for a minimum of five years prior to the date of verifying the experience.
Competencies in the Work Experience
Before applying for your initial Washington State CPA license, the experience that an applicant underwent should demonstrate that it has provided an opportunity to obtain the following competencies:
- Assess the achievement of an entity’s objectives.
- Develop documentation and sufficient data to support analysis and conclusions.
- Understand transaction streams and information systems.
- Assess risk and design appropriate procedures.
- Make decisions, solve problems, and think critically in the context of analysis.
- Communicate scope of work, findings and conclusions effectively.
CPA Applicant Responsibilities
All applicants must be responsible for determining that the verifying CPA meets the Board’s requirements, namely:
- Producing documentation and a completed Experience Affidavit form to a qualified verifying CPA. Applicant must ensure page 1 & 2 of the experience affidavit is completed. It should contain a signature and date before submitting to the verifying CPA for review. The verifying CPA reviews pages 1 & 2, then completes, signs and dates page 3 on the same date or after applicant.
- The applicant must ensure the job summary or resume contains the following:
- Complete Name
- Dates worked
- Place(s) where the experience was obtained
- Details how the experiences and duties have reasonably provided the opportunity to obtain the specific competencies to meet the experience requirements.
- Lastly, maintaining the documentation for a minimum of three years.
Washington CPA Ethics Exam Requirements
To meet the Washington CPA ethics exam requirements, a candidate will need to complete the course and ethics exam from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) titled Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course (For Licensure). An exam will be administered and the required score is 90% or higher.
Getting Your Washington State CPA License
After having passed the CPA exam, these next steps will have to be done in acquiring your first certified public accountant license as a Washington CPA Exam candidate:
- Applicants will have to verify that they have met the good character requirements by answering the attestation questions on the online CPA license application.
- The experience qualification must also be confirmed and the experience affidavit complete. This affidavit and a resume copy or summary of key job responsibilities must be uploaded to your application.
- A course completion certificate covering all of the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct with a 90% score or higher. This will also be uploaded to your application.
- Watch the video, Washington CPA Essentials, and certify on the application that you have completed this requirement.
- Complete the required Continuing Professional Education (CPE). Only do this if it has been more than four years since you passed the CPA exam.
- Certify on your application that you have reviewed an example of what your CPE reporting period will be for your first renewal.
- Complete and submit the license application through the Online Services.
Remember that you are only allowed to use your CPA title once your license has been approved by the Board.
Washington CPA requirements include ongoing training to remain a licensed CPA. You must undergo four hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) in a board approved ethics and regulations courses with specific application to the practice of public accounting in Washington State.
For approved courses, visit the Washington State Board of Accountancy.
Additionally, Qualifying Programs are expected to be attended. The program contributes to the professional knowledge and competence in the practice of the profession. These are at least 50 minutes in length and recorded with outlines prepared in advance. By the end of the program, it should provide a certificate upon completion.
The board however does not endorse any CPE sponsors or their programs. Only you can determine if a program is acceptable and it should include technical and non-technical learning activities. To give you an idea of finding qualifying CPEs, here are the following:
- State societies
- Technical sessions at meetings of the AICPA, state societies and chapters
- University or college courses
- Employer offered or required training
- Trade or professional associations
- Commercially offered programs
- Training offered outside of the United States
Initial and renewing license applicants have a requirement of 120 hours of CPE along with limitations. For your first CPE reporting period, your 120 hours of CPE must be taken after your license is issued and on or before December 31 of the third calendar year.
Renewal of CPA License
All Washington State CPAs, CPA-Inactive certificate holders and non-licensee firm owners must complete CPE as a requirement for renewal. Log your CPE into the “CPE Tracker” tool located in your online services account through Secure Access Washington (SAW).
Renewal is between January 1 and April 30 every three years.
Complete your required CPE by December 31, a year prior to the expiration of credentials. Simultaneously log your acceptable CPE documentation throughout your CPE reporting period as you complete it. The application will only allow you to move forward once you log enough CPE to meet the renewal requirements.
When your documents are complete, submit the online renewal application through your SAW. The renewal fee will be $230.
If you apply between May 1 and June 30, renewal applications will also include a $100 late fee.
It is important to note that you must keep your CPE records for 3 years after the end of the reporting period for which the credit was claimed. Another important piece of information to remember is that when you do not renew or retire on or before June 30 of your renewal year, your credential will lapse effective July 1.
For more inquiries on the requirements and application, see Washington State Board of Accountancy.
All the details and requirements mentioned can be a daunting task, especially for aspiring CPA applicants. But if you follow our guide you can get an easier start and keep you on the right track in getting your CPA licensure. With all the experience and knowledge you could attain, you will find that being a Washington licensed CPA is a very rewarding opportunity.
Washington CPA Exam F.A.Q.s
Below are the commonly asked questions about the Washington CPA exam and CPA license requirements:
What are the requirements to sit for the CPA exam in Washington?
To meet the Washington CPA exam requirements, applicants must be a citizen of the United States or legally present in the United States. They must also have a bachelor’s degree and in applying for the exam, applicants will have to pay the appropriate exam fees.
How many accounting credits do you need to sit for the CPA license in Washington?
Washington state board requires completing 150 semester hours with 24-semester credits in accounting and 24-semester credits in business administration.
How do I register to take the CPA exam in Washington?
To be able to take the CPA exam, fulfill first the education requirements for Washington State. Apply and submit your application and transcripts through NASBA. Once your complete application is approved, NASBA will issue a Notice to Schedule (NTS). The NTS lets you schedule your exams with Prometric and is one of the important documents to be presented upon taking the exam.
How much is the CPA exam in Washington State?
During the application for the exam, first-time applicants are required to pay the education evaluation application fee of $90 and an examination fee of $354.20 for each section. There are four (4) exam sections and would total to $1,509.20 for first-time applicants.
Does Washington require an ethics exam for the CPA?
Washington does require an ethics exam upon obtaining your initial license. The ethics exam is an 8-hour comprehensive course and an examination covering the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct. Applicants have to score 90% or better on the exam.
Do CPA exam scores expire in Washington State?
As with all states, once a CPA candidate passes their first CPA exam section, they will only have 18 months to pass the remaining three CPA exam sections to complete the Uniform CPA Examination. Once a CPA candidate has passed the Uniform CPA Examination, their scores never expire in Washington.
How long does it take to become a CPA in Washington State?
Standard hours in education is 120 semester hours however, Washington requires a credit of 150 semesters and that’s already around 5 years for education alone. Another year would be for taking and passing the exams. After passing the exam, one more year is required for the mandatory experience in order to be eligible to apply for the license. That’s roughly 6 to 7 years to acquire the license and be a Certified Public Accountant.