There's no better state to pick for becoming a CPA than Oregon. It's a beautiful place to live and the I-5 corridor is growing by leaps and bounds. You are sure to find a lucrative, successful career as well as a rich and rewarding lifestyle.

The road to becoming a CPA is nearly as difficult as hiking the Oregon Trail, however. There are many specific requirements that must be met, and loads of hard work is involved, too. Since Oregon has its own unique approach to CPA licensure, this document is here to help you navigate your way clear through to your CPA license.


Academic Requirements for Oregon CPAs

To become a CPA in Oregon it is going to demand a lot of intellectual and academic rigor. You must hit the books early, late, and as often as possible. The general requirement is 150 semester hours of college or graduate work. That should include matriculation with at least a bachelor's degree and a major concentration in accounting. The state's minimum requirement is 24 hours of accounting courses and 24 hours of business-related coursework.

Your accounting hours should be above the intro level, so courses like Principles of Accounting or Introduction to Accounting will not suffice. For your licensure, concentrate on courses such as:

  • Audits
  • Governmental or nonprofit accounting
  • Financial reporting
  • Taxation

Your business courses can go farther afield. These will help broaden your view of the business world and may even inspire you in other ways. Consider studying subjects such as:

  • Statistics
  • Business law
  • Economics
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Business ethics
  • Business communications
  • Technical writing
  • Finance
  • Organizational psychology
  • Sociology
  • Business.
  • Computer science

Confer with your academic in the accounting department to ensure that your business electives are recognized by the Board as being business-related subjects. Keep in mind that courses taken at the master's level likely carry more hourly clout than undergraduate coursework.

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Accreditation

The Oregon Board of Accountancy not only demands that you take a certain number of courses, but that your education be of a quality recognized by a credible accrediting agency. Your college or university should have received regional accreditation by an institution acknowledged by the board. For example, one of these institutions is acceptable:

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
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Non-college alternative

Interestingly enough, Oregon still offers a way for those with no college credit to become a CPA. If you have graduated with high school diploma and have two years of experience in public accounting, you are eligible to sit for the CPA examination.

Since your experience is vital to your application, make sure that you are diligent in accounting for it. First off, you must verify that you have a minimum of 2 years in full-time employment under a licensed CPA. During your time, make sure that you note how you use accounting skills such as:

  • Auditing
  • Attestation
  • Financial reporting
  • Financial analysis
  • Personal finance advisory
  • Management advisory
  • Consulting
  • Tax preparation
  • Tax advisory

Your supervisor should be prepared to sign off, in a notarized document, for all of your experience. The board will contact them individually to verify your tenure in accounting.

While this is an intriguing option, confer with your employer as to how you can be best prepared for the exam. Since the pass rate for the exam is around, or below, 50%, you may need to take some college-level coursework to prepare. At a minimum, seek out an accredited review course for the test. This will help solidify your knowledge and provide you with college credits that you might use later.

Degree Requirements for Accountants in Oregon

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Associate Degree

Earning your associate degree in accounting opens doors that allow you to work as an accounting assistant, bookkeeper, or in another entry-level position where you will help to record and summarize financial information. With experience, you can turn this position into a career or earn a higher-level degree that will give you access to promotions and an increase in salary. Learn More

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Bachelor’s Degree

As an accountant in today’s highly technical world, you are more than likely going to learn to work with software and accounting systems in order to succeed. Not only can you do this with a bachelor’s, but this degree level will also give you access to promotions and may be the last degree you ever need to earn. Learn More

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Master’s Degree

A master’s in accounting allows you to delve into a more focused area of accounting, so you can work with clients in financial planning, investments, etc. and gain access to the highest levels of businesses, including the C-suites. Learn More

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Doctorate or PhD

Earning a degree at this advanced level will prepare you to launch either a research career or a teaching career at a university or college. While businesses do not require any of their employees to earn this distinguished degree, they would certainly jump at the chance to employ someone with this depth of knowledge. Learn More

5

Online Degree Programs

Online degrees are becoming more and more common as schools make an effort to reach every possible student. Some are 100% online and some offer a hybrid format, with some classes being on-campus and others virtual. Online options have proven to be just as challenging as the on-campus options and provide the same kinds of employment outcomes. Learn More

Oregon's CPA Exam Requirements

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To sit for the CPA exam in Oregon, the Board requires that you be fully prepared with 150 semester hours of college work, including a baccalaureate degree, or a high school diploma and a minimum of two years working full-time for a licensed CPA.

If you take the academic route, you will also need to complete an experiential portion later. However, your scholarly work should ensure that you are fully prepared for the exam and your future practice in accountancy. To satisfy the board your official transcripts should reflect 24 hours studying accountancy and 24 hours of general business coursework.

Your accounting courses should be upper-level courses. That is, introductory courses will not be included when the Board reviews your transcript. This is often standard practice when universities qualify students to graduate in a major concentration. Thus, if you can receive the major there's a good chance you've satisfied the Board.

Your business-related courses can include courses such as Business Law or Business Ethics. You would be well advised to take at least one course that covers business communications. The Business Environment and Concepts portion of the four-part CPA examination includes 3 written items.

When you have completed all of the required 150 semester hours (or 225 quarter hours), you may apply to sit for the exam. Your application should be accompanied by a payment for $150 for your first time. Returning applicants pay $50. Payments should go through the NASBA website, or by providing a credit card number via phone.

On your application, you will indicate the sections of the test that you are prepared to take. Only list the section(s) for which you are fully prepared. Your application should also include your name exactly as it appears on your driver's license or other state identification. Otherwise, the testing center is likely to refuse your reservation for the test. If there is some error, you can contact the Board and request an amendment.

Once you have received a notification that your application is approved, you can pick from one of six testing centers throughout Oregon:

Portland area

Sylvan Learning Center
1122 NE 122nd Ave
Portland, Oregon
503.254.4159

Sylvan Learning Center
14623 SE McLaughlin Blvd
Milwaukie, Oregon
503.659.0486

Southern Oregon

Sylvan Learning Center

1500 Valley River Drive, Suite 310
Eugene, Oregon
541.485.4589

Southern Oregon University
Higher Education Center Room 122
101 South Bartlett St
Medford, Oregon 97501
541.552.8100

Central/Eastern Oregon

Sylvan Learning Center
2150 NE Studio Rd #10
Bend, OR 97701

Prometric Testing Center
1901 Adams Ave
LaGrande , Oregon 9785

The exam is broken into four sections, each of which is allotted 4 hours. The sections are:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD): 72 multiple-choice questions and 8 task-based simulations
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): 66 multiple-choice questions and 8 simulations
  • Business Environment and Concept (BEC): 62 multiple-choice questions, 4 simulations, and 3 written items
  • Regulation (REG): 76 multiple-choice questions and 8 task-based simulations

They are all quite difficult and many people re-take one or more parts of the exam. Consider these passing rates from 2017:

Auditing and Attestation 48.5%
Business Environment and Concepts 53%
Financial Accounting and Reporting 44.4%
Regulation 47.2%

A passing grade on each test is 75. Once you have completed the test, your scores will be available for private viewing on the NASBA website.

Oregon's Experience Requirements

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Once you have passed the academic and examination portions of the road to your CPA licensure, you will need to put your knowledge to the test in a real-world accounting firm. Oregon requires one year of full-time employment under the direct supervision of a licensed CPA, PA, or chartered accountant. If you work part-time, you must complete 2,000 hours to complete your application.

During your experiential portion, you may work in public practice, government, industry, or in academia. To satisfy the board, you should record all of your activities related to the following skill sets:

  • Accounting
  • Attestation
  • Compilation
  • Management advisory
  • Taxation
  • Consultation

Your supervisor will be asked to verify your experience in a separate communication.

Licensure Requirements

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The general requirements for an Oregon CPA license are in four parts: experience, education, ethics, and examination. If you have 150 semester hours of college (or greater) work, you need one full year of full-time experience. With a high school diploma, you must work for a minimum of two years on a full-time schedule.

For the education portion, you can simply stop your education after high school, though it's strongly recommended that you pursue a baccalaureate degree. The Board requires 150 semester hours that include 24 hours in accounting courses and 24 in business, or related, coursework. You must also take and pass an ethics course, as well as all four parts of the CPA examination.

The ethics portion can be satisfied in one of two ways. You can take the AICPA's professional ethics course or the exam created by the Oregon Society of CPAs.

Once you have received your CPA license, you will need to continually maintain it with further education.

Oregon's Continuing Professional Education Standards

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Oregon is not alone in requiring that its CPAs complete CPE hours every year. For every two-year period, you should complete 80 total hours. Every year, however, you must complete a minimum of 24 hours. While you will mostly take courses that apply to accounting, attestation, taxation, and similarly technical courses, you must also take four CPE hours focused on ethics. The Board website has a lengthy list of of registered sponsors who can provide Board-approved ethics instruction.

Your other CPE units can be acquired by taking courses through professional organizations, colleges or universities. The board will determine the hourly value of your work on a program-by-program basis.

Note that the board does offer CPE waivers for military service, illness, or individual hardship. You may not, however, waive the CPE requirements for more than three years. If you need more time, and desire to return to the profession, consult with the Board.

Your career as a CPA is bound to be fruitful and a large part of the continuing success of the state of Oregon. Your hard work will be the basis of a deeply rewarding career.

Accountant Career Concentrations & Salaries in Oregon

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Fund Accounting

In this position you will manage and allocate funds your employer receives through donations, grants, tax payments, or other sources. You will monitor the assets and document who donated them Learn More

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Cost Estimator

In this position, your job is to predict the costs of raw materials, the workforce, and labor costs needed to begin and finish a project. Agencies budget every dollar in a project so that it is used as intended and budgets are not blown out of proportion and inefficient. This includes projects for utility work, public construction, road work, and many others.

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Business Administration with an Accounting Concentration

Earn your BS/BA or MBA in business administration and add on a valuable concentration in accounting. This degree is valuable because of how your future career options expand so much once you earn it. You could become an entrepreneur or go into finance or corporate management, work as a CPA, work in government, or as a partner in an accounting firm. The possibilities are extensive.

While a concentration isn’t mandatory, it does enhance a degree as students start applying for business or accounting positions. A concentration is an academic specialization which allows a business major to complete almost all of their upper division electives required for graduation. Accounting concentration classes include those focused on federal income tax, auditing, and cost accounting, along with others.

Oregon accountants and auditors can make an excellent living. Accounting professionals in the South Coast non-metro area claim a mean annual wage of $56,420 while accountants in Eugene have a mean annual wage of $63,220. Accountants in eastern Oregon’s non-metro area bring in a mean annual wage of $60,680. Central Oregon’s 310 accountants have a mean annual wage of $68,110 and the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro area shows a mean annual wage of $70,350 for its 9,510 accounting professionals. The employment ratio here is between 6 and 7 to every 1,000 jobs.

Annual Mean Wage 10th Percentile 25th percentile 50th percentile 75th percentile 90th percentile
$68,780 $42,750 $51,710 $63,110 $80,280 $101,840

Oregon Accounting Frequently Asked Questions

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How much can I earn as an accountant in Oregon?

As an accountant, your knowledge and skills will be in high demand no matter where you live. At the early point of your career, an accountant’s average annual salary in Eugene is around $53,300 and their average mid-career salary is $69,700.

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What is the job outlook for accountants in Oregon?

The outlook for accountants and auditors shows that employment is projected to grow 4% between 2019 and 2029. The health of the US economy influences their employment growth because companies need them to prepare financial and tax filings and examine all sorts of financial documents.

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Do colleges or universities in Oregon offer online degrees?

You should be able to find online accounting degree programs at Oregon universities. For instance, Seton Hall University offers an online master’s; Fairleigh Dickinson University also offers a Master of Science in Accounting. Other universities in the state offer degrees in a variety of accounting or finance-related majors.


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