A State By State Accounting Guide

Steps to Becoming an Accountant in Oregon

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:

  1. Business Economic & Concepts (BEC)
  2. Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR)
  3. Regulation (REG)

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).

Careers in Oregon’s Accounting Firms

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.

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Salary and Employment Facts about Accountancy in Oregon

Accountants can find many new opportunities in Oregon, especially in the Portland metro area. This is due in large part to the rise of a strong technology sector, which is helping drive demand for accounting and auditing services.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has provided salary information for accountants in Oregon showing that those in Corvallis earned an average of $58,490 in 2014, while those in Salem earned $64,110 on average.

Accountants in Oregon earn a range of salaries depending on their geographic location in the state, job specialty, and whether or not they hold a CPA license. Accounts who have CPA licenses can make far more than their unlicensed colleagues, as reflected in the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance.

Robert Half, Inc provided information on high-level accounting salaries in Portland, Oregon for 2015 showing forensic accountants at the high end of the range making $113,519.

Chief financial officers (CFOs) in Oregon, who typically hold CPA licensure, earned an average of $385,355 according to the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance. Internal auditors for midsized corporations earned an average of $99,138, while controllers for small firms in the Portland area earned an average of $94,303 according to the guide.

Accounting Salaries in Oregon’s Cities and Major Metro Areas

Accountant salaries vary by location, with metropolitan areas tending to pay more. Eastern Oregon’s nonmetropolitan area reported the lowest average salary in the state at $49,490. In contrast, Portland reported the highest average salary. Portland-based accountants earned an average of $68,110 a year in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The table below shows 2014 employment and salary data for accountants and auditors throughout Oregon as reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Bend OR
280
67230
Corvallis OR
260
58490
Eugene-Springfield OR
820
61190
Medford OR
420
60630
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro OR-WA
8210
68110
Salem OR
1090
64110
Coastal Oregon nonmetropolitan area
270
60530
Southern Oregon and Linn County nonmetropolitan area
390
64950
North Central Oregon nonmetropolitan area
230
56860
Eastern Oregon nonmetropolitan area
280
49490

Tax Preparer Salaries Throughout Oregon

Tax preparers in Oregon earned an average salary of $39,400 while some earned as much as accountants.  Bend-based tax preparers in the top ten percent made an average of $56,640 a year in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

The table below shows employment and salary data for Oregon’s metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas from the 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics report:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Bend OR
90
38570
Eugene-Springfield OR
Estimate not released
40140
Medford OR
60
46260
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro OR-WA
720
39980
Salem OR
70
40680
Southern Oregon and Linn County nonmetropolitan area
140
35970
North Central Oregon nonmetropolitan area
Estimate not released
33100

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2014. Figures represent accumulated data for all areas of specialty within the field of accounting and auditing.

Oregon Accountancy Laws in the News

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.