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The AICPA finally succeeded in publishing its Trends in supply of accounting graduates and demand for public accounting recruits report (hereinafter referred to as the Tendencies report), which we have been waiting to see since last August, but hey, I get it, people are busy. As we work to analyze the data and pull out all the relevant stuff, we know without even glancing at it that the number of CPA candidates is down, and we know it because leaders across the profession are hair is pulling out accounting graduates who haven’t taken the CPA exam in years. Well, those who still have hair anyway.

Let me go back to this quick video released by the Illinois CPA Society last year that offers a few reasons why today’s accounting students are choosing not to go straight to the CPA as is the tradition since the dawn of time (chargeable):

  • They feel they can take off in their intended or chosen careers without it.
  • They believe the value of the CPA designation is outweighed by its irrelevance to their personal efforts and the time required to obtain it.
  • They don’t see the personal or financial return on investment.
  • Their employers or potential employers do not support it or require it.
  • They see other experiences as more valuable.

I would like to add a data point to this list. I found this today in my “shit worth writing about Going Concern” file, which is really just a bunch of screenshots littering my stack of cat photos and may -be a few links buried in my 108 open Chrome tabs. This is just one screenshot, but why waste time saying a lot of words when few words do the trick. It’s from a CNBC article about which masters offers the best pay raises:

It’s $1,982. The government gave people more than that in stimulus checks in 2020. You can’t even buy this used 1995 Buick LeSabre (obviously) that I found on for this:

1995 Buick Le Saber for sale

I mention this as a connection to the ongoing issue of declining numbers of CPA exam takers, as both issues are directly related to a single pervasive issue: perceived lack of value. You are accountants after all, of course you are going to consider more than anyone else whether something is or is not it’s worth it.

As we move forward in the AICPA Tendencies reporting the data, I guess we’ll find out how many people have decided that 4% isn’t worth investing all the time, effort, and student loan debt in a master’s degree. Although a master’s degree is not technically required for licensing, it has always been a good option to adhere to the 150 hour rule which some say is another deterrent to obtaining a license. a permit once you get past that “not getting paid what I’m worth” little set, but that’s a topic for another day.

We will update this space with the Tendencies report shortly on the number of master’s graduates.

picture by Jeff Weese from Pexels

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