Accounting Examining Board

Individuals seeking to provide services related to the preparation and evaluation of financial statements must apply for a Certified Public Accountant license through the Accounting Examining Board. The agency falls under the Department of Safety & Professional Services and is responsible for administering the CPA licensing process, setting professional standards and handling disciplinary matters. Candidates must meet the requirements to become licensed and maintain their license in good standing under renewal requirements. The State of Wisconsin is unique in offering Professional Assistance Procedures intended to help CPA and other licensees maintain their credentials while seeking treatment for drug addiction.

Obtaining a license

In order to obtain a CPA license to provide public accounting services in the State of Wisconsin, candidates must meet certain minimum educational requirements, pass examinations as established by the Board and undergo experience in a public accounting setting.

Educational requirements

The Board requires CPS license candidates to complete certain education requirements, depending on graduation date.

Candidates who graduated before January 1, 2001 must have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university, following certain curriculum requirements:

  • Two college level courses in math;
  • At least four courses in:
    • Statistics
    • Marketing
    • Business finance
    • Management
    • Computers
  • At least one course that includes such topics as principles of accounting, accounting theory, advanced accounting, cost taxation and business law.

Candidates who graduated after January 1, 2001 must have completed at least 150 semester hours of study at an institution of higher education, and earned one of the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree with a major in accounting or the reasonable equivalent; or,
  • A graduate degree that covered the topics of financial accounting, auditing, tax matters and management accounting. Alternatively, a graduate degree with a concentration in accounting qualifies.
Examination requirements

Candidates for CPA licensure must pass the Uniform CPA Examination, as administered and graded by the National Association of the State Boards of Accountancy. There are four sections to the CPA Exam, each of which must be passed within 18 months. Each section may be taken separately, so long as all are competed within the 18 month period. The four sections cover the following topics:

  1. Auditing and attestation of documents;
  2. Financial reporting;
  3. Professional regulation; and,
  4. Business concepts.
Experience requirements

Those applicants for a CPA license must also complete one year’s worth of accounting experience after completing the educational requirements. Full time is employment is given more weight, though applicants may satisfy the experience requirements by engaging in part time work.

Maintaining a license

CPA license holders are required to renew their license every two years, by December 14 of odd numbered years. The renewal application is available in hard copy or can be completed online.

Continuing education requirements

CPA licensees are not required to complete continuing education requirements in order to maintain or renew their license, with the exception of those licensees who have allowed their credentials to lapse for more than five years by failing to renew. These individuals must complete at least one hour of Board-approved continuing education for each month that the license was expired, up to a maximum of 80 hours. The Board accepts continuing education courses from the AICPA, WICPA and NASBA.

Disciplinary actions

The Board has established certain Rules of Conduct that all CPA licensees must follow, including standards of competence, responsibilities to clients and confidentiality. Violations of these rules can result in placing a license on probate, as well as license suspension or revocation.

Professional Assistance Procedures

In response to studies showing that 1 in 10 individuals in the U.S. suffer from the affects of chemical dependency, the Board follows the guidelines of the PAP program as regulated by DSPS. This confidential program offers an opportunity for CPA license holders to seek treatment for drug-related addictions without the fear of losing their credentials. The PAP does not offer treatment services, but monitors a participant’s progress.