Introduction

Wisconsin may not be known as a pillar of industry, but the state boasts a GDP of $309.5 billion (ranked 20th in the country) and no fewer than nine Fortune 500 companies, including Northwestern Mutual, Kohl’s, and Harley-Davidson. Wisconsin’s diverse economy is fueled by industries including agriculture, manufacturing, consumer goods, and tourism. The state employs more than 21,000 accountants and auditors, and jobs in the field are expected to grow 12.7% by 2026—slightly higher than the national average. Around 700 licensed CPA firms are found across Wisconsin, with Milwaukee serving as the center of most financial activity. Three of the four major international CPA firms maintain offices in Milwaukee (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte & Touche), along with Wipfli, the second-largest firm in the region.

Wisconsin at a glance

Population 5,795,483
Per Capita Income $28,213
Unemployment Rate 3%
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

22,090 Employees2012
26,450 Employees2022
Wisconsin 16.5% increase
1,397,700 Employees2012
1,537,600 Employees2022
United States 9.1% increase
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Accounting Salaries by Specialty

Wisconsin Avg. Annual Wage United States Avg. Annual Wage

Associate Degree Recommended

Bookkeeping and Auditing Clerks

\ $36,720
$41,110

Payroll Clerks

\ $43,870
$44,950

Credit Counselors

\ $40,100
$49,460

Bachelor's Degree Recommended

Cost Estimators

\ $59,070
$68,420

Tax Examiners and Collectors

\ $62,310
$59,140

Master's Degree Recommended

Accountants and Auditors

\ $67,240
$77,920

Budget Analysts

\ $73,850
$77,170

Personal Financial Advisors

\ $106,250
$109,949

Financial Managers

\ $130,800
$143,530
Source: BLS OES - Industry Profile

Top-paying cities for accountants

  1. Eau Claire
    $76,460
  2. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis
    $69,810
  3. Wausau
    $68,860
  4. Madison
    $68,030
  5. Janesville-Beloit
    $67,340
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES - State Employment Survey

Major firms headquartered in Wisconsin

Count Firm Location 2014 Revenue (in millions)
1WipfliMilwaukee, WI$277
2SchenckAppleton, WI$78
3SVAMadison, WI$58

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 and Regional Leaders"

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 # RequirementNo
Education Requirement for LicensureBachelor's degree (150 hours)
Participates in International ProgramsYes
Hours in Accounting24 semester hours
Exam Sitting Requirements150 hours
Experience Requirements1 year of accounting experience
Ethics ExamState ethics exam

Source: The American Institute of CPAs

CPA exam fees in Wisconsin

Total:$1,254
  • Application Fee $150
  • Auditing & Attestation $276
  • Financial Accounting & Reporting $276
  • Regulation $276
  • Business Environment & Concepts $276

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

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

[email protected]

Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Address

W233 N2080 Ridgeview Pkwy
Waukesha, WI 53188

Phone Number

262-785-0445