Learn How to Become a Licensed Certified Public Accountant In Wisconsin
Wisconsin, nicknamed America’s Dairyland, is known for its agricultural industries, dairy producers, soybean exports. It also has thriving finance, real estate, and insurance industries as well.
This is a great state to work for aspiring accountants who specialize in the tax and business activities of these industries and want interesting careers.
Before you jump into your accounting career, Wisconsin has several detailed qualifications that candidates complete before they can become licensed. Let’s look at the WI CPA requirements to take the CPA exam and become a licensed CPA in Wisconsin, so you can get your career started.
Basic Requirements For CPA Certification in Wisconsin
To be eligible to take the CPA exam and become a licensed certified public accountant in Wisconsin, a candidate meet the following requirements set by the Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board:
- Must be at least 18 years old
- Must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with 150 credit hours
- Wisconsin residency: not required
- US citizenship: not required
- Valid social security number: not required
Wisconsin’s CPA requirements are reasonable, as the state board does not require you to be a US citizen or Wisconsin resident. They also don’t require you to have a Social Security number, which makes Wisconsin a great state for international CPA candidates to take the exam.
Wisconsin CPA Certification Education Requirements
The Wisconsin State Board requires you to have a bachelor’s degree with at least 150 college credit hours from an accredited institution in order to take the CPA exam. The 150 college credit hours of course work must include specific accounting and business coursework.
Candidates are required to complete 24 credit hours in undergraduate accounting courses with a concentration in:
- Financial Accounting
- Management Accounting
General Business Coursework
Similarly, a candidate should complete 24 credit hours in a business-related course besides accounting at the graduate or undergraduate level. The courses should cover:
- Business Law
There is an option to take the CPA exam in Wisconsin before you graduate from college. If you have a master’s degree with 60 days from 150 credit hours, you can apply to sit the CPA exam. However, you also need 15 semester hours in accounting courses at the graduate level and 24 credit hours in business courses.
Those still attending school or who have graduated recently should ensure the Wisconsin State Board of Accountancy approves your credits. It’s a good idea to check with the state board to make sure your college credits meet the Wisconsin CPA requirements before you apply to take the exam. This will prevent extra fees and wait times.
If you attended a foreign university/college, you should ensure a National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) member agency evaluates your credits. Besides the courses evaluated, Wisconsin’s Department of Regulation and Licensing requires the candidate to complete income taxation and business law courses. Make sure your foreign degree programs meets these general requirements.
Wisconsin CPA Exam Requirements
After completing 150 semester hours for the education requirement, you are eligible to apply to sit for the CPA exam. The candidate should be within 60 days of completing their degree or 150 semester hours in accounting and business courses to take the CPA exam.
You can apply to the Wisconsin CPA examination services to sit for the CPA examination. Along with your application, you will need to submit your college transcripts, government issued ID, and fees.
Once your application is approved, you will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS), which takes around six weeks for a first-time applicant. You can then plan to take the CPA exam, which is divided into four sections. Scheduling exams is through Prometric, there are testing sites in Madison and Brookfield.
WI CPA Exam Costs & Fees
The total cost for the CPA exam in Wisconsin is approximately $9078.08 including an application fee of $254.
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD): $195.35
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): $176.25
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): $195.35
- Regulation (REG): $176.25
- Application Fee: $254
You might think of getting ahead and sign up for all four parts at once, but it is not advisable as this could end up costing more. Usually, after receiving the NTS, you have six months to sit the exam. Therefore, if you register for more than one section and fail to complete it within the duration, you will have to re-register to retake the section you didn’t take.
Only sign up for what you want to take in the next 6 months. Keep in mind, you have to complete the four sections within 18 months.
Wisconsin CPA License Requirements
You can apply for certification after passing all the CPA exam sections and meeting the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing’s requirements. Here is a list of the Wisconsin CPA licensing requirements to become a CPA in WI:
- Pass all the four sections of the CPA exam within 18 months
- Pass the AICPA ethics exam
- Complete 2,000 hour work experience
- Submit application and pay licensing fee
- Submit necessary paperwork including, transcripts and work experience proof
Those licensed outside Wisconsin and not residing in the state have the same privileges as Wisconsin licensees.
AICPA Ethics Exam
The Wisconsin State Board requires CPA license applicants to complete the AICPA ethics exam. This is a simple, open-book test that can be done online. You can purchase the test materials directly from the AICPA.
You may also want to check with the AICPA to get their certified public accountant exam guide for Wisconsin. The AICPA publishes a CPA exam guide for each state, you can navigate the exam process including taking the exam and applying for you license. It’s very helpful.
Work Experience Requirements
Besides meeting the education requirement, you need to fulfill a one-year experience (2,000 hours) requirement that must take place under a licensed CPA’s supervision. The experience should be in accounting in government and industry. The concentrations should be on financial analysis, accounting, auditing, and work with comptrollers or tax preparation.
Interestingly part-time work does count toward your CPA requirement, but it is not given much weight. Also, individual tax returns and bookkeeping don’t count towards the work experience, and self-employment needs full documentation and presentation to the board in person for review.
Wisconsin CPA License Application & Renewal
Your Wisconsin CPA license must be renewed each year in order to stay active. The renewal process can be done online through the Wisconsin State Board of Accountancy website. You simply fill out the renewal application, submit your CPE credit certificates, and remit the annual license renewal fee.
Wisconsin requires all active CPAs to complete at least 80 hours of CPE every two years with at least 20 hours being completed the 12 month period. These credits should include:
- 40 CPE credits of formal learning activities
- 3 CPE credits of ethics related topics
These CPE credits must be completed and submitted to the state board in order to renew your CPA license each year.
Wisconsin CPA Salary
The average Wisconsin CPA salary is $83,861 per year. This annual salary varies depending on location, position, and industry. Public and private accounting salaries vary greatly.
Wisconsin is a great state to work for certified public accountants. Its vast agriculture and production economy provides great opportunities for accountants in many different sections.
Additional Wisconsin CPA Resources
Here are several resources you can use to learn how to take the CPA exam in Wisconsin and become a certified public accountant.