Wisconsin CPA Exam & License Requirements 2017

Each state has its own guidelines for CPAs. Here’s how to become a CPA in Wisconsin.

WisconsinIf you are starting your education and wish to pursue an accounting major, you are in good company. Accountancy is one of the oldest professions and is still in high demand. Every business and corporation needs an accountant at some time, and individuals need them to help with financial advisement and wealth building. However, not every accountant is created equal. Certified Public Accountants (CPA) are the most sought after in the field as they have passed rigorous ethical and academic standards in order to practice. Each state has its own guidelines for CPAs. Keep reading to learn how to become a CPA in Wisconsin.

General Guidelines

Wisconsin is like most states in that it has a 4-tiered pathway to a CPA license comprised of the following: academic requirements, CPA exam scores, an ethics test and supervised experience. The state also requires that you be at least 18. However, you will not need in-state residency, a U.S. Citizenship or even a Social Security number. However, you will need to have some form of taxpayer ID to complete the experience portion of the process.

Academic Standards

Like most states, Wisconsin requires that you complete 150 semester hours of college at the undergraduate or graduate level. You will need these hours prior to sitting for the Uniform CPA Examination, though you can schedule the test within 60 days of completing the education requirement. Before you get too far into your school work, make sure that your school is accredited by one of the following agencies:

  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges

If you have credits or a degree from a school outside the United States, those transcripts must be evaluated and verified by one of the member agencies in the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

As you progress through your program, you will want to work with your academic advisor to ensure that you are on track with the guidelines set forth by the Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board. Most advisors in Wisconsin Accounting programs should be aware of the requirements, but it is good to be aware of them. There are four ways to satisfy the Board’s academic guidelines:

Option 1: Matriculate with a graduate degree in accounting from an accredited university.

Option 2: Matriculate with a graduate degree in business with transcripts reflecting these credits:

  • 24 semester hours of undergraduate accounting courses, including the following:
    • Cost Accounting
    • Taxation
    • Auditing
    • Financial Accounting
  • 15 semester hours of graduate accounting covering these topics:
    • Cost Accounting
    • Taxation
    • Auditing
    • Financial Accounting
  • A combination of the graduate and undergraduate requirements. Often, a graduate credit is worth 1.5 undergraduate credits.

Option 3: A bachelor’s degree in accounting from an accredited business school with transcripts reflecting the hours in both accounting and business, as follows:

  • 24 semester hours in accounting that cover the following subjects:
    • Cost Accounting
    • Taxation
    • Auditing
    • Financial Accounting
  • 24 semester hours’ worth of business classes, such as these:
    • Business law
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Finance
    • Economics

The board will accept any for-credit courses, provided they all appear on a transcript from an accredited institution. However, the board does not accept any CPA review courses whatsoever.

CPA Examination

Once you have completed the educational requirements for the Wisconsin board, you can then apply to sit for the CPA Exam. This is a test created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The test is constantly being updated to include timely accounting items created by practicing CPAs who are a member of the AICPA.

The test is one of the most difficult professional exams to pass. In fact, sections of the test are frequently redone by as many as half of all takers. For that reason, it is wise to prepare as well as you possibly can. There are a wide range of study materials available and you might decide to find a group of future CPAs to study with. Note that the exam is broken down into four tests, so your group might tackle one test at a time. The four parts are:

  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Auditing and Attestation
  • Regulation and Ethics
  • Business Environment and Concepts, which will also test your writing skills

The Ethics Exam

After you have scored at least a 75 on each of the four parts of the CPA exam, you will need to take Wisconsin’s online Ethics Test. It is comprised of 50 items that cover the Wisconsin Statutes and Administrative Code. The test is not compatible with Macintosh computers and it must be passed with a minimum score of 80 percent.

Gaining Experience

The final hurdle to your CPA license is the experience portion. You must work for a full year at either a public accountancy, for a governmental agency, private industry or in academia. The Wisconsin statute requires that your experience reflect “high levels accounting knowledge, competence and judgment.”

Wisconsin is a great state in which to practice accountancy. The economy is strong and there are always new opportunities for a CPA. To stay up to date with licensure issues, including continuing education, visit the board’s website: Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board.

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