Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Wisconsin is a smart career move for accountants for several reasons. The demand for CPAs in Wisconsin is high, with many opportunities available in public accounting firms, corporations, and government agencies. Also, CPAs in Wisconsin earn competitive salaries and have the potential for career advancement. Becoming a CPA in Wisconsin demonstrates a commitment to the accounting profession and a dedication to upholding high ethical standards. Finally, CPAs in Wisconsin have access to a network of professionals and top resources that can help them grow and succeed in their careers. Overall, becoming a CPA in Wisconsin is a wise investment in your future as an accountant.
Become a CPA in Wisconsin
As you might imagine, obtaining a CPA license takes a lot of work. Each state has its own set of rules and requirements for doing so. In Wisconsin, you will find that your path to the coveted CPA title will involve accomplishing everything described below.
The Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) oversees the CPA licensure process in Wisconsin.
Here are the Steps to Become a CPA in Wisconsin:
- Getting Your CPA Education in Wisconsin.
- Taking the Uniform CPA Exam in Wisconsin.
- Gaining the Needed Experience in Wisconsin.
- Getting Your CPA License and Continuing Education in Wisconsin.
Let’s examine each of these four requirements one at a time.
If you are a CPA candidate in Wisconsin, you must hold a bachelor’s degree or a higher from an accredited college or university. In addition, you will need to complete 150 semester hours of coursework. Students can find courses and degrees online, as well as on campus.
Since most bachelor’s programs involve 120 semester hours, most candidates go on to earn a master’s degree. If you go for a Master’s in Accounting, the institution you attend must be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Also note that if your degree is in business, you must complete 24 undergraduate semester hours or 15 graduate semester hours in accounting. Those semester hours should cover the subjects of accounting information systems, auditing, cost or managerial accounting, financial accounting, and taxation.
The state also requires you to submit an official transcript from every college attended.
If you studied at a junior college or a community college, or if you went to college in a foreign country, you must transfer all of your credits from that school to an accredited four-year college or university in the U.S. Otherwise, those credits will not count towards your CPA requirements in Wisconsin.
Furthermore, all income taxation and business law courses must be taken at an accredited school in the U.S. It is also important to note that commercial CPA review courses do not count towards any of your CPA educational requirements.
Top Wisconsin Business Schools
|Marquette University||College of Business Administration||AACSB||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Website|
|University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire||College of Business||AACSB||Eau Claire, Wisconsin||Website|
|University of Wisconsin-La Crosse||College of Business Administration||AACSB||La Crosse, Wisconsin||Website|
|University of Wisconsin-Madison||Wisconsin School of Business||AACSB||Madison, Wisconsin||Website|
|University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee||Lubar School of Business||AACSB||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Website|
|University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh||College of Business||AACSB||Oshkosh, Wisconsin||Website|
|University of Wisconsin-Parkside||College of Business, Economics, and Computing||AACSB||Kenosha, Wisconsin||Website|
|University of Wisconsin-River Falls||College of Business and Economics||AACSB||River Falls, Wisconsin||Website|
|University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point||School of Business and Economics||AACSB||Stevens Point, Wisconsin||Website|
|University of Wisconsin-Whitewater||College of Business and Economics||AACSB||Whitewater, Wisconsin||Website|
Are you unsure whether or not you have completed your CPA educational requirements? If so, Wisconsin allows you to undergo a National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) Advisory Evaluation. If you elect to go through this process, an evaluator will review your educational history and tell you how many credits or which areas of study you might need to improve. That way, you could take specific courses before submitting your Uniform CPA Exam application.
Wisconsin Uniform CPA Exam
One of the significant steps on your journey to becoming a CPA in Wisconsin is taking the Uniform CPA Exam. CPA candidates take the same computerized test in all 50 states and at least six U.S. territories. A Baltimore-based company called Prometric Testing administers it and operates test sites throughout Wisconsin. You may choose the site with the most convenient location for you.
You can register for the exam online at a website called CPA Central. That site, which NASBA runs, will also let you submit your transcripts and pay your fees.
As for the exam itself, it includes four sections, and you will have four hours to finish each of them. Yes, to become a CPA in Wisconsin — or any U.S. state, for that matter — you must pass all four sections. There are no exceptions.
These are the sections:
- Auditing and attestation.
- Business environment and concepts.
- Financial accounting and reporting.
How you take this exam is up to you. That is, you could take all four sections in one day. Or you could take one, two, or three sections at a time. However, you must complete your fourth section within 18 months of taking your first exam. Candidates are also advised to take their first section within six months of the date they sign up for it.
There are both multiple-choice questions and essay questions on this test. Throughout the exam, you will have to apply the accounting concepts you have studied to various financial scenarios.
Given how difficult each section is, the wisest course of action is to take these sections one at a time. That way, you can study for each part on its own.
You may have to retake one or more sections of this test. There is no shame in that — and as long as you pass the entire test in the end, there are not any professional repercussions, either. Approximately half the people who take this exam must retake at least one section. And all of those test-takers are accounting experts to start with!
As a final note here, NASBA will send you your scores directly. Later on, the licensing board will receive those scores, as well.
The first time you take this test in Wisconsin, the following fees apply. These are subject to change at the state’s discretion.
|Two sections at a time||$683.30|
|Three sections at a time||$934.45|
|All four sections at a time||$1,185.60|
There is a separate application fee as well. Then, if you have to retake some or all these exams, these are the somewhat lower fees you will pay. When you retake the exam, there is an additional registration fee.
Only some states have work experience requirements for CPA candidates, and Wisconsin is one of them. Specifically, you must work for 12 or more months in public accounting (or an equivalent field) after you fulfill your educational requirements. And you must have completed that work within five years of applying for your CPA license.
Your employer must verify your position in the form of a signed document. A description of your work, including your title and the type of professional tasks you handled, must also be included.
The following could count as relevant experience:
- Auditing work.
- A job as a financial analyst.
- A comptroller position.
- Tax preparation (although filing basic tax returns for individuals will not qualify).
Serving as a self-employed accountant for at least a year may or may not fulfill this requirement. You would have to explain everything you did in that role to the department, in person and with complete documentation.
Suppose you worked in a legal, government, or financial sector job that involved making important accounting decisions or taught accounting at an advanced level. In that case, that position might take care of the work experience requirement.
You can apply for your CPA license once you have fulfilled your educational, exam, and work experience requirements. When ready, you will go to Form 130 on the DSPS website.
Form 130 will direct you to all the supplemental forms you’ll have to fill out, and it will tell you which documents to submit. There’s also a $75 application fee.
There is one final step before you can become a CPA in Wisconsin. You must prove your knowledge of ethics. Ethical accounting, making sure that all parties (including the IRS) receive the funds that are rightfully theirs, will be vital to you and your professional reputation throughout your career.
Unlike some other states, Wisconsin does not require you to take any classes in accounting ethics — although you may wish to do so. Instead, you can simply study the Wisconsin Statutes and Administrative Code, a strict set of ethical rules, on your own.
When you feel ready, you can sit for an open-book, untimed, online ethics test that the DSPS administers. This exam consists of 50 questions and costs $75 to take; 80% or higher is a passing score. Then, once you have passed, you can finally become a CPA in Wisconsin!
Starting in 2021, Wisconsin does require CPAs to take continuing education classes in order to renew their licenses. Wisconsin CPAs need to complete 80 hours of CPE credits. These credits must directly relate to your accounting profession. While they are mandated, they are also helpful both for your own edification and to qualify as a member of specific professional organizations.
Becoming a CPA in Wisconsin
Accounting is a career path that offers freedom, flexibility, and financial stability. As an accountant, you will likely have many job opportunities throughout your career. Taking this career a step further by becoming a CPA in Wisconsin will launch your career to new heights of success. After all, when your home state certifies you as a CPA, you gain access to more prestigious and selective jobs. Indeed, as a CPA, clients everywhere will recognize that you are among the elite of your profession.
Beyond that, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you are helping your clients protect themselves financially. You are allowing them to build a bright future one step at a time. And all of these professional rewards will stem from that much sought-after CPA license.