By an Accountingedu contributing writer
Updated August 2014
Opportunities for CPA specialization in Wisconsin are available within the manufacturing and agriculture industries, or within government, the non-profit sector, or academia. Becoming a CPA in Wisconsin requires passing the Uniform CPA Exam and a Wisconsin state ethics exam, as well as completing the state’s experience requirements.
a. Get information from Wisconsin schools offing programs in accounting. The Wisconsin State Department of Regulation and Licensing requires that every certified public accountant in the state earn 150 semester hours of college credit and have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
b. If you are still attending school or have recently graduated, make certain that the Wisconsin State Board of Accountancy will accept your credits.
To be acceptable to the Board, all credits must be earned from a school that holds accreditation granted by a regional or national institutional accrediting agency recognized by the Secretary of the Department of Education.
If you attended school in another country, your credits must be assessed by a member agency of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). The Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing also requires that you complete courses in business law and income taxation, in addition to any courses recommended by the evaluation. These courses must also be through an accredited US four-year bachelor degree granting institution. Official transcripts proving successful completion of the required courses must be sent with your application to the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing.
c. Ensure that you are enrolled for the correct courses. The 150 semester hour requirement must include one of the following conditions (Options 1 and 2 apply to master’s degrees and options 3 and 4 are applicable to bachelor’s degrees):
Earn a graduate degree in accounting from an accounting program or department accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the board (listed above).
Earn any other graduate degree from a business school or college of business that is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the board and includes the completion of:
The following applies to any of the 150 credit hour completion options:
Once you have completed 120 semester credit hours of the 150 semester credit hour requirement you can apply to take the Uniform CPA Examination.
a. Apply through CPA Examination Services (CPAES). Register online here. All required documents (shown below) should be sent to:
CPA Examination Services,
Attention: Wisconsin Coordinator
P.O. Box 198469 Nashville, TN 37219-8469
b. Complete and send all required documents with your Uniform CPA Exam application.
c. Wait for your Notification to Schedule (NTS) letter to arrive. It can take up to 6 weeks for a first-time application to be processed by mail, or 4 weeks for applications submitted online. The NTS will be issued to you by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) in the manner you selected while applying (mail, fax or email).
d. Schedule your CPA Exam here through Prometric. In Wisconsin testing sites include Brookfield, and Madison. Note that changing the date, time, or location of the scheduled test may result in fees being assessed.
e. On your exam day be on time and ready to test at your selected Prometric testing site.
f. Scores will be made available online for Wisconsin candidates. The NASBA site is updated as the scores are received so if you do not see your scores yet, then they have not been received. When available, your score can be seen here.
If you need further information or need to request special accommodations the Wisconsin coordinator can be reached at 800-CPA-EXAM. For detailed information on the Uniform CPA Exam, click here.
The Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing will not issue a state license until the education requirement is met, the CPA exam passed, and the necessary experience requirement is fulfilled.
a. After meeting the education requirements, applicants must complete one year of paid public accounting experience or equivalent determined by the board. When applying for the CPA license you are required to submit your experience information and employment verification statements including the Verification of Employment and Experience Evaluation form to the board for evaluation. A verifying CPA with an active license in good standing must validate all experience through this form.
Qualified experience should meet the following criteria:
Experience equivalents include:
The Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board has ruled the these types of experience are equivalent to public accounting:
The Board has ruled that these experiences are NOT equivalent to public accounting:
Upon passing the Uniform CPA Examination and fulfilling the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing’s work experience requirement, you are eligible to apply for your state CPA Credential and license. Wisconsin will not grant CPA credentials until all requirements for licensure are met. Licenses are required to practice, and advertise as a CPA in Wisconsin and granted upon payment of licensing fees and a thorough review of your application packet. Use the following steps to determine your readiness to apply:
Candidates who sat for exam in Wisconsin starting May 1996 are prequalified and your transcripts are on file. Do not remit them again. If you are applying by endorsement or transfer of examination credit from another jurisdiction than you are required to submit an official transcript showing courses taken and degrees received. The college or university must send transcripts.
Mail all required documentation to: Wisconsin Department of Regulation & Licensing P.O. Box 8935 Madison, WI 53708-8935
Additional technical or exam content related questions can be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Wait Through the Review Process
Applications will be evaluated when all required documents and ethics examination are received.
Biennial license renewal is due by December 14th of the odd number year
Practice Privileges for Out of State CPA’s
If you are a CPA that doesn’t resided in Wisconsin and the primary office is not located in Wisconsin, then under the Wisconsin practice privilege statute generally you have the same rights as a Wisconsin licensee. Residents of and primary offices located in Wisconsin must obtain a Wisconsin CPA license in order to practice.
Licensure by Endorsement
If you hold a CPA license in good standing in another state, you must meet all current Wisconsin licensure requirements before applying for CPA licensure, unless you can provide evidence that you have passed the Uniform CPA Exam and practiced as a CPA for five or more years. You must also pass the Wisconsin ethics exam. The Application for Certified Public Accountant Credential should be used.
If you hold a CPA license in good standing in one of the following countries, you must meet all current Wisconsin licensure requirements and pass the IQEX (International Qualification Exam) and the Wisconsin ethics exam prior to licensure in Wisconsin by endorsement:
Reinstatement of Licensure
If you have failed to renew the credential within 5 years of the renewal date, you must contact the Board office for the required fee due, forms required, and authorization to take the ethics exam. The Application for Certified Accountant Credential (form #130) is not accepted for reinstatement.
DRL@wisconsin.gov or call (877) 617-1565.
The Wisconsin Department of Regulation and licensing does not require continued professional education (CPE) in order to maintain CPA licensure. Many CPAs; however, elect to join the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants (WICPA), which does have CPE requirements. Requirements set by WICPA are as follows:
a. Enroll in the correct courses. CPE credits must be earned through formal programs. The definition of this is outlined in AICPA’s Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs.
CPE credits must contribute to overall professional competence. Course can be taken for but are not limited to:
CPE credits are measured in 50-minute contact hours that must be claimed in whole hours. WICPA will not accept claims of anything less than 50-minute units, for example claiming 25 minutes isn’t accepted. Credit hours can be achieved by attending:
You can find qualifying CPE programs in Wisconsin via:
b. Maintain records of CPE completed. CPE course credit claimed is your responsibility. Maintain CPE records for at least 5 years. Include attendance records, course outline, date and title of the course, location and instructor, and number of CPE hours earned. WICPA’s Professional Conduct Committee verifies compliance with CPE requirements through random audits. If you are not compliant with the CPE requirements the WICPA grants a two-month grace period to comply.
Now that you're a CPA in Wisconsin
Great job and well done! You are now a certified, licensed CPA in Wisconsin! You might want to consider becoming a member of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and join the local professional accounting organization, Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Both of these organizations present members with opportunities for professional development, continuing professional education programs, networking and professional guidance. Both also require CPAs in Wisconsin to complete a certain number of hours of continuing professional education (CPE) to maintain membership. Wisconsin doesn’t require CPE credits to maintain a CPA license unless the license has been expired for more than five years.Think about specialization! Possibilities for specializing within the discipline of accounting in Wisconsin include forensic accounting, tax accounting, fraud examination, financial accounting and managerial accounting.