3 Strategies to Fix the Dwindling CPA Pipeline

Gina Deveney
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There are more accounting majors than ever, but the number of graduates taking the CPA exam has remained flat. As a result, firms are struggling to fill open positions with entry-level accounting professionals. The lack of novice candidates has the potential to cause a shortage of public accountants, prompting executives to explore new ways to replenish the pipeline of future CPAs. Here are three ways to encourage young accounting professionals to take the CPA exam.

1. Explain the Perks

Becoming a certified public accountant has several intangible perks. If you want to encourage accounting majors or recent graduates to consider public accounting, explain these perks in detail. One of the main perks is industry recognition of the CPA credential. Passing the test opens up new opportunities for accounting professionals and makes it easy to switch careers later in life. CPAs also enjoy enhanced job security. Although there are no guarantees when it comes to finding and keeping a job, there are more opportunities available to certified public accountants.

Flexibility is another valuable perk afforded to CPAs. After gaining experience in the field, it's possible for CPAs to leave their firms and secure jobs with nonprofits and government organizations. Even the Federal Bureau of Investigation hires accounting professionals with the CPA credential. Additionally, CPAs have many professional-development opportunities available to them, making public accounting a rewarding career.

2. Discuss Earnings Potential

Certified public accountants make $1 million more than non-CPAs in their careers, says Bryan Kesler, a contributor to AccountingWEB. However, recent grads bogged down with student loan payments and soaring housing expenses may be too concerned about their current earnings to think about the long-term effects of passing the CPA exam. Use real-life examples to demonstrate the financial benefits of becoming a CPA. For example, you may want to show that you used your CPA credential to land a position paying $20,000 per year more than you made at your first accounting job.

3. Suggest Life Adjustments

New accounting professionals may be reluctant to spend time studying for the CPA exam when they could be spending time with their families. If you encounter this objection, explain how studying for the exam now can lead to better work-life balance later. Suggest temporary life adjustments, such as dropping an extracurricular activity or spending less time on hobbies, to show that it is possible to study for the exam even if you have a full-time job and a family.

Without qualified people to fill the CPA pipeline, accounting firms are likely to have problems filling open positions and handling heavy workloads. Encourage young accounting professionals to take the CPA exam by discussing salary in detail, explaining all of the perks available to public accountants, and offering tips for balancing work and family commitments with the need to study for the test.

Photo courtesy of courtney0609 at Flickr.com



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  • Doreen W.
    Doreen W.

    He also is extremely well versed in



  • Fauzia K.
    Fauzia K.

    Absolutely, Lois. I agree with you. I have already passed the CPA exam, this is my second career after raising my family, but it seems like the firms are more interested in the new college graduates vs. people that have a wide variety of life experience ?

  • JUAN G.
    JUAN G.

    It is really trust; sacrifice is connected to benefits.

  • Lois R.
    Lois R.

    Or you could give an older non-traditional/late blooming CPA a break!

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