By an AccountingEdu contributing writer
Updated August 2015
Oregon is one of only a handful of states that still licenses public accountants (PAs) as well as CPAs. In a move that sets them apart from most other jurisdictions, the Oregon State Board of Accountancy has made it a requirement for even non-certified public accountants to pass three of four sections of the Uniform CPA examination:
Those interested in becoming non-certified public accountants in Oregon must also have at least a year’s worth of experience under the guidance of a supervisor licensee. This experience is usually gained on the job through regular full-time employment providing tax preparation and bookkeeping services.
CPA candidates require a bachelor’s degree at minimum and 150 semester hours of college credit, passing scores on all portions of the Uniform CPA Exam, and a full year of supervised work experience. Because a bachelor’s degree results in around 120 semester hours of college credit, a master’s in accounting provides the ideal way to earn the additional credit hours required for a CPA license in Oregon. Would-be CPAs in Oregon must also pass a professional ethics exam administered by either the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) or the Oregon Society of Certified Public Accountants (OSCPA).
All of the “Big Four” international CPA firms; Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers; have offices in Portland. National accounting and professional services firms recognized as leading employers of Oregon CPAs include Moss Adams, LLP; which is headquartered in Washington state.
Oregon’s own Geffen Mesher & Company and PC Perkins and Company, PC; both of which were founded here, are recognized as the largest local accounting firms in the state. These locally owned firms are also among the leading employers of Portland area accountants who provide business consultation, tax, and accounting services to businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals throughout Oregon. Other notable local accounting firms in Portland include Talbot, Korvola & Warwick, LLP; Wicks, Emmett, Hatfield & Chappell, LLP; and Boldt, Carlisle & Smith, LLC. Local accounting firms are located throughout the western and central part of the state. Salem is home to Fischer, Hayes & Associates, while accountants in Bend are found working for Harrigan Price Fronk & Co, LLP.
In 2014, there were 11,120 accountants and auditors employed in Oregon, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The region with the highest concentration of workers in the field is the Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton area where an estimated 8,210 accountants are employed. Still, this number is expected to rise in the coming decade. In fact, the Oregon State Department of Employment reports that between 2012 and 2022 the number of accountants and auditors employed here will grow by 16.9 percent, which translates to more than 500 accounting job openings per year during this time period.
In 2014, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average annual salary for all accountants and auditors employed in Oregon to be $65,820. The best paying area for accountants in the state is Portland where the annual mean wage is $68,110, while the top 90th percentile here earn $99,280. Bend Oregon Accountants make an annual mean wage of $67,230 while those in the 90th percentile earn $103,670. In Salem, the annual mean wage is $64,110, while the top 10 percent earn $93,050 each year.
In 2009, the Senate Bill 867 “Mobility Bill” was passed by the Oregon legislature. This bill redefined the Board of Accountancy registration requirements for CPAs and public accounting firms that reside out-of-state. The relatively new legislation eradicates the need for out-of-state CPAs and PAs to register with the Board of Accountancy prior to practice if the licensee is registered in a state where licensing standards are substantially similar to Oregon’s. Out-of-state accounting firms may conduct business in Oregon without registering with the Board of Accountancy if their practice is limited to providing review and compilation services for clients.