Introduction

Wisconsin has the 21st largest economy in the United States and is known as “America’s Dairyland.” The state produces about one-quarter of the cheese in America and its per-capita milk production is third behind California and Vermont.

Besides being a major agricultural producer, Wisconsin is also home to some well-known companies, including Harley Davidson motorcycles, plumbing supply manufacturer Kohler, and heavy machinery manufacturers John Deere and Caterpillar. Major food industry players Kraft Foods and Oscar Mayer also call Wisconsin home.

Top international accounting firms PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte & Touche all have offices in Milwaukee, the state’s largest city.

Wisconsin at a glance

Population 5,757,564
Per Capita Income $40,537
Unemployment Rate 4.6%
Fortune 500 Companies 10
Licensed CPA Firms 694

Accounting Programs in Wisconsin

Search our comprehensive school directory to explore the accounting programs in Wisconsin, including campus-based, online and hybrid programs.

Accounting Salaries and Employment

Wisconsin offers competitive salaries to CPAs and financial professionals. There are jobs to be had at many large manufacturing and agricultural companies, as well as growing opportunities in the IT and tourism sectors which are becoming major contributors to the state’s economy.

Besides having three of the “Big Four” accounting firms located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is also home to nearly 700 licensed CPA firms and five major cities where financial professionals can make upwards of $70,000 annually. Those who have an advanced education can expect to earn in excess of $100,000 annually for top-tier positions.

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

21,920 Employees2012
23,530 Employees2022
Wisconsin 6.8% increase
1,275,400 Employees2012
1,442,200 Employees2022
United States 11.6% increase
Source: U.S. Department of Labor

Accounting Salaries by Specialty

Wisconsin Avg. Annual Wage United States Avg. Annual Wage

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

$36,010
$37,250

Payroll Clerks

$39,070
$39,850

Credit Counselors

$44,960
$44,960

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

$61,750
$63,660

Tax Examiners and Collectors

$61,390
$56,120

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

$61,390
$72,500

Budget Analysts

$67,370
$72,560

Personal Financial Advisors

$81,730
$99,920

Actuaries

$107,990
$107,740

Financial Managers

$111,000
$126,660
Source: BLS OES

Top-paying cities for accountants

  1. Wausau, WI
    $70,930
  2. Eau Claire, WI
    $70,430
  3. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI
    $70,070
  4. Madison, WI
    $69,770
  5. Racine, WI
    $67,220
Source: OES Data Tool

Major firms headquartered in Wisconsin

Count Firm Location 2014 Revenue (in millions)
1SchenckAppleton, WI$70
2SVA CPAsMadison, WI$50

Accounting Today named these firms among the highest performing in a multi-state region. Rankings as based upon reported net revenues from 2014. Source: Accounting today "Top 100 Firms"

Becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services outlines the requirements of earning accounting licensure in the state. Wisconsin’s education and experience requirements are similar to those in other states. Moreover, Wisconsin will accept a licensed CPA from another state without further testing if the individual meets current state requirements or provides proof that he or she passed the Uniform CPA Exam and has five years of professional experience.

Eligibility for CPA Licensure in Wisconsin

Individuals wanting to work as CPAs in Wisconsin who are not licensed in another state or want to receive training in the field must obtain the required education and experience. Further, the state requires that all four parts of the CPA exam must be completed within an 18 month period.

The Wisconsin State Legislature does not list specific college-level courses required of CPA candidates. It does, however, mandate that CPA applicants must have received a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or higher with an accounting concentration or equivalent.

Age Requirement18
Citizenship RequirementNo
Residency RequirementNo
Social Security # RequirementOptional (a social security number is voluntary and used only for identification)
Education Requirement for Licensure150 hours (including bachelor's)
Participates in International ProgramsYes
Hours in AccountingGraduate Degree: Concentration in Accounting. Graduate Degree from a business school: 24 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours in accounting at undergraduate level plus 15 hours in accounting at graduate level which includes financial accounting, auditing, taxation and management accounting. Bachelor's degree: 14 semester hours in accounting or equivalent quarter hours in accounting at undergraduate or graduate level which includes financial accounting, auditing, taxation and management accounting.
Exam Sitting RequirementsMust be within 60 days of completing education requirement
Experience Requirements1 year experience of public accounting or its equivalent. Equivalent experience may be considered in government, industry, academia, law, self-employment (must be documented and presented in detail for Board consideration).
Ethics ExamMust pass the Wisconsin online ethics exam

Source: The American Institute of CPAs

CPA exam fees in Wisconsin

Total:$1,468
  • Application Fee N/A
  • Auditing & Attestation $378
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting $378
  • Regulation $356
  • Business Environment & Concepts $356

The total charge for all four exam parts goes down to $974.08 if all parts are taken within six months of each other.

Schools Ranked by CPA Pass Rates, 2014

RankLogoSchool NameCandidatesPass RateAverage Score

Schools are ranked by pass rate unless otherwise noted. Results are comprised of scores from both first-time test takers and those returning to take the whole exam or specific sections of it again. Source: National State Boards of Accountancy

Certifying and Professional Organizations

In Wisconsin, Certified Public Accountants are licensed and regulated by the state’s Department of Safety and Professional Services. As the authority that oversees Wisconsin’s public accountants, the department determines the requirements and procedures involved in earning and maintaining CPA licensure in the state.

CPAs new to Wisconsin are encouraged to join the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants (WICPA). Members have access to continuing educational materials, as well as webinars and other forms of training. The WICPA is also home to the Educational Foundation, which invests in the future of the accounting profession.

Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services

Address

1400 East Washington Avenue; Room 112
Madison, WI 53703

Phone Number

608-266-2112

Email

dsps@wisconsin.gov

Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Address

W233 N2080 Ridgeview Pkwy
Waukesha, WI 53188

Phone Number

262-785-0445