A message from Diane Sturek, CPA, MAcc, 2022–23 Chair of the INCPAS Board of Directors
The CPA Pipeline—It's Complicated
If you’ve been reading messages from INCPAS, AICPA and the Center for Audit Quality, you are aware of concerns about the pipeline for new CPAs. You may even have these issues in your own workplace. How did this happen?
It’s complicated. In recent years, we have experienced a decline in the number of students attending college and students enrolled in college have more choices in majors. To become a licensed CPA, you must have an additional 30 college credit hours and pass a rigorous exam. This takes additional time and money, a concern especially for underrepresented populations. The pandemic further exacerbated this problem. Some reports estimate there are 1.3 million fewer students now going to college than prior to the pandemic.
We need to tell the success stories. The stories of how you help your clients. The stories about how you came to the place you are now in your career, and why you find it rewarding.
Do you remember the moment you decided to become an accountant? At a recent INCPAS board meeting, all board members and staff in attendance shared the story of their journey to their current position in their profession. They described interesting journeys with paths I’m sure they did not anticipate when they graduated from college. The impression was each person had experiences of value that have made their careers rewarding and interesting.
While visiting with members around the state, I find members enjoy their careers, and some don’t understand why we can’t attract more students into the profession. The work is rewarding, you help clients achieve their goals for a better financial future, the audit function is required for the operation of the capital markets, there is the potential for owning your own firm…the list goes on.
As with most complicated problems, it can seem overwhelming to figure out what an individual can do to make an impact. We certainly can’t change all the above factors on our own. But we can combat the negative image often portrayed. We need to tell the success stories. The stories of how you help your clients. The stories about how you came to the place you are now in your career, and why you find it rewarding. You can mentor young professionals and be a role model in the community. Perhaps if you tell your story, you will be able to change the future for someone looking for a respected, rewarding profession. We can do this collectively—now where will you start individually?