Becoming a CPA certified public accountant CPA in Wisconsin is much the same as other states, with 150 credit hours required to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. However, staying a CPA in Wisconsin is easier – there are no formal continuing education requirements so you can simply focus on doing a good job for your clients after becoming a CPA.


Wisconsin Education Requirements

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Attend an accredited institution

The Wisconsin state board of accountancy recognizes degrees from accredited educational institutions. For master’s degrees in accounting, the program or department must be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. If you’re seeking a bachelor’s degree or higher in accounting or business, the program or college must be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education, or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. It’s important that CPA candidates verify your college or university is accepted by the Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board prior to beginning your application process.

2

Complete the education requirements

Becoming a CPA in Wisconsin doesn't have to be stressful. Just follow this guide and you can pass the CPA exam. To qualify to become a CPA in Wisconsin, you will need to complete all of the state’s education requirements. Many CPA's started their education by getting an Associate’s Accounting Degree (AA) and then moved on to earning a bachelor's. CPA candidates are expected to attain a bachelor’s or higher degree and take a minimum of 150 credit hours of qualifying coursework. All of the following options are acceptable:

An master’s degree from an accredited college or university

A bachelor’s degree or higher in business from an accredited program or college, including:

At least 24 undergraduate-level semester hours in accounting, a minimum of 15 graduate-level credit hours in accounting, or an equivalent combination of both undergraduate and graduate-level credit hours in:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Cost or Managerial Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Auditing
  • Accounting Information Systems

A bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited program or college, including:

A minimum of 24 undergraduate-level credit hours in accounting, a minimum of 15 graduate-level credit hours in accounting, or an equivalent combination of both undergraduate and graduate-level credit hours in:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Cost or Managerial Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Auditing
  • Accounting Information Systems

A minimum of 24 undergraduate-level credit hours in business, a minimum of 15 graduate-level credit hours in accounting, or an equivalent combination of both undergraduate and graduate-level credit hours in:

  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Statistics or Data Analytics
  • Business Law
  • Information Technology

In general, courses in financial accounting, cost or managerial accounting, taxation, and auditing must be in addition to introductory accounting courses required of all business majors.

Candidates who completed a minimum of 150 credit hours and earned a bachelor’s or graduate degree in accounting from a recognized accrediting agency prior to June 1, 2017 may also qualify for candidacy as long as their certified public accountant CPA application materials are submitted prior to October 1, 2018.

Additionally, if your current program does not meet the Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board accreditation requirements, you may still qualify for candidacy. Your completed coursework can be submitted to Board, which will then determine whether your credit hours are sufficiently equivalent to the state’s content and credit hour requirements.

Campus and Online Degree Options in Wisconsin

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Associate Degree

Associate degrees generally take two years to complete. A person with an AS in accounting is ready to be a bookkeeper, accounts payable or receivable clerk, or even a staff accountant if the business is willing to provide some on the job training. This degree takes two years to complete. Learn More

2

Bachelor’s Degree

A person with a BS in accounting is ready to take on the task of handling the books for a small business on their own or work in an accounting department for a larger company. A bachelor’s degree requires four years to complete and is the minimum required education to sit for the CPA exam. Learn More

3

Master’s Degree

People working toward an MS in Accounting tend to specialize in a certain area of accounting such as auditing, forensic accounting, and managerial accounting are just some examples of specializations. A master’s degree generally takes two to three years to complete and students are required to complete a thesis or take a comprehensive exam. Learn More

4

Doctorate or PhD

Those who seek a PhD in accounting are aiming to be viewed as experts in their field. CPA candidates can also work towards being professors at universities. A PhD can take six years to complete and require a dissertation and defense. Learn More

5

Online Degree Programs

Many colleges and universities offer their accounting programs online. This does not only apply to one level of degree but is true across the spectrum. Whether you are looking for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, certificate, or doctorate degree, there are likely online programs waiting for you. Learn More

CPA Examination Requirements

1

Complete course requirements

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Applicants who intend to take the CPA Exam must complete at least 120 credit hours of education that includes coursework in accounting and business. To qualify, you must either:

Earn a master’s degree from an accredited institution, a bachelor’s degree or higher in business from an accredited institution, or a bachelor’s degree or higher in accounting from an accredited institution. All options must include:

The following accounting courses:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Cost or Managerial Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Auditing
  • Accounting Information Systems

The following business courses:

  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Statistics or Data Analytics
  • Business Law
  • Information Technology

Complete a minimum of 120 credit hours towards a bachelor’s or higher degree, including:

The following accounting courses:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Cost or Managerial Accounting
  • Taxation
  • Auditing
  • Accounting Information Systems

The following business courses:

  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Statistics or Data Analytics
  • Business Law
  • Information Technology
2

Apply for the exam through CPAES

Once you’ve met the education requirements, you can apply to take the CPA Exam online through CPA Exam Services (CPAES). You will need to create a user account and complete your application via the online tool. Be prepared to submit the following:

Official transcript(s) from the institution(s) you’ve attended – these must be sent directly from your college or university to CPAES

Application and examination fees for each section you plan to take

  • 1 Examination Section - $412.40
  • 2 Examination Sections - $643.80
  • 3 Examination Sections - $875.20
  • 4 Examination Sections - $1,106.60

The CPA exam Accommodations Request Form, if applicable - this form must be sent from you to CPAES

Application materials should be shipped to the following address:

CPA Exam Services – WI
PO Box 198469
Nashville, TN 37219

3

Wait for your Notice to Schedule

Once your application has been submitted, you will receive an email confirming receipt of your materials. You can expect a processing period of two to four weeks. After your application has been reviewed and approved, you will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS). Your NTS will instruct you to schedule your Uniform CPA Exam date via the Prometric website, where additional processing fees may apply.

4

Take your examination

You must complete all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam during an 18-month period, which begins once the first section has been passed. A minimum score of 75% is required. If you fail to pass any section(s) within the 18-month period, all passed sections will expire and need to be retaken.

CPA candidates scores will become available for you to request and review via the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

Wisconsin Work Experience Requirements

1

Complete work experience requirements

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To become a certified public accountant CPA license in Wisconsin, you are required to work professionally in the accounting field for at least one year. During this time, you should gain experience providing advice or services in accounting, attest, compilation, management advising, financial advising, tax, or related consulting skills. Upon your written request, the Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board will assess your work and notify you if additional experience is needed.

CPA License Application Process

1

Verify you have all application documents

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In order become a certified public accountant license in Wisconsin, you must submit the following items:

  • An Application for Certified Public Accounting License form
  • A credential fee of $150 paid via check or money order and made payable to the Department of Safety and Professional Services – this includes the $75 Initial Credential Fee and the $75 Ethics Exam Fee
  • An Experience Record form
  • A Verification of Employment and Experience form with Part I completed by you and Part II completed by your employer
  • A Required Course Work in Accounting and Business Subjects form, unless you earned a master’s degree in accounting from an institution accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • Official transcripts (will be sent by NASBA unless additional documentation is requested)
2

Take your ethics examination

A passing score of at least 80% on an ethics examination is also required. The CPA exam consists of 50 questions pertaining to Wisconsin Statutes and Administrative Code. Once you’ve submitted your application documents, you’ll receive an authorization passcode and instructions on how to take the open book, online examination via email.

Wisconsin Continuing Education Requirements

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While you may be required to fulfill continuing education for your employer or to maintain an association membership, the Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board does not require them for certified public accountant license holders.

Accountant Career Concentrations & Salaries in Wisconsin

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Auditor

An auditor reviews a company’s financial records. Sometimes they’re called in when there’s a reported issue, other times it is just a random check. Auditors make sure that everything is recorded and accounted for and make sure that those who are charged to do so have the proper education and certifications. Learn More

2

Accounts Receivable and/or Payable Clerk

This person is in charge of recording and maintaining information on the money owed to the company by customers and the bills the company must pay and make sure vendors are paid on time. They usually report to either the accountant or the office manager. Learn More

3

Bookkeeper

Smaller businesses might use a bookkeeper for daily accounting operations and to keep their books up to date. These people are trained to do daily accounting tasks and then pass generating financial statements and tax issues to an accountant. Learn More

Wisconsin accountants are projected to see an increase of 7.1 percent in the years 2012-2022. That translates into 810 total accounting jobs, often in financial services, but also the manufacturing sector. If you launch an accountancy career in Wisconsin and gain significant experience, you will see your salary rise accordingly. Experienced accountants in Wisconsin earn an average of $78,810 before bonus and benefits. When your experience tops five years, your earnings could meet or exceed $88,189, depending on the size of your firm or company. When you become a certified public accountant and have many years of experience, you might even reach the CFO level. Milwaukee-area CFOs earn upwards of $276,375.

City Annual Median Wage
Appleton $50,600
Eau Claire $47,400
Fond du Lac $48,000
Madison $54,000
Milwaukee $50,000
Green Bay $51,800
Entry Level Mid Career Late Career
$45,800 $46,500 $52,200
  • Wisconsin Average Cost Estimator Salary: $49,100
  • Wisconsin Average Auditor Salary: $52,600
  • Wisconsin Average Budget Analyst Salary: $56,400
  • Wisconsin Average Credit Analyst Salary: $52,100
  • Wisconsin Average Financial Analyst Salary: $57,800
  • Wisconsin Average Personal Financial Advisor Salary: $50,900
  • Wisconsin Average Financial Examiner Salary: $50,000
  • Wisconsin Average Tax Examiner, Collector, or Revenue Agent Salary: -
  • Wisconsin Average Tax Preparer Salary: $43,900
  • Wisconsin Average Actuary Salary: $78,200
  • Wisconsin Average Forensic Science Technician Salary: -
  • Wisconsin Average Payroll and Timekeeping Clerk Salary: -

Wisconsin Accounting Frequently Asked Questions

1

Is certification required?

Although taking and passing the CPA exam, or gaining any other certification, is not required to work in any state as an accountant, having a CPA or other certification behind your name has its benefits. Those with certifications can do things other accountants cannot, such as defend clients before the IRS or file with the SEC, which makes them extremely valuable and increases their income accordingly.

2

Are there accounting jobs available in the state?

There are always accounting jobs available in Wisconsin. According to Projections Central and the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), accountants and auditors will continue to be in demand between 2018 and 2028. It’s anticipated that Wisconsin will have over 2,600 openings for accountants during this time.

3

How much can a person earn as an accountant in Wisconsin?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants in Wisconsin have a median annual salary of a little over $71,000. CPAs and accountants with advanced degrees or specialized certifications have greater earning potential, but even those with a bachelor’s or associate degree can improve their income by gaining experience in the field.

4

Are there online degree options in the state of Wisconsin?

As with the rest of the United States, online degree options continue to grow in the state of Wisconsin. Accounting is an especially easy degree to move to online courses as there is not much in the way of hands-on learning that cannot be completed in an online format. For this reason, accounting is often one of the first classes to be moved into the virtual realm when a school begins providing distance learning to their students.


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