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Is AICPA Membership Worth It?

Facing a professional dilemma? Stuck between a rock and a cubicle? Worried that your ambition may be mistaken for desperation? Get in touch and we'll try to walk you through it.

Hello GC-

I've recently jumped the public accounting ship (hooray for fewer hours!). I've always known I would keep my CPA license up and have kept up with the CPE and state licensing fees. I've even renewed with my state's society of CPAs as the networking can come in handy. What I would like to get your opinion on (and that of your knowledgeable and ever entertaining commentors) is what value is there to renewing my membership with the AICPA?
The difference between state society level membership and national membership isn't much depending on your state. Your support goes to maintain CPA-friendly business relationships in your state and nationally – or, more crudely put, lobbying, among other things. This helps you so you don't have to be concerned with some legislative issues if you have faith in either your state or national bodies to represent your interests as a CPA.
But lobbying isn't all the AICPA does; it developed Start Here Go Places and This Way to CPA to draw fresh meat into the profession, maintains financial literacy programs like Feed the Pig and 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy and administers your favorite 4-part professional exam.
AICPA membership offers other benefits like discounts at Office Depot, CPE and access to somewhat cheap long-term disability and life insurance.
It's even more valuable if you can get someone else to pay for it. If you're an asset to your firm, they'll cough up your membership fee. If you have to argue why your AICPA membership is worth it to your firm, you should probably find a new job. They should know all the above reasons I listed and then some, not to mention the fact that if you actually participate in AICPA activities, you might meet some really driven people in your line of work. That alone makes their investment worth it as far as I'm concerned.
Even if you believe the "old school rules" at the AICPA, I might be naive enough to believe they still generally have the profession's best interests at heart. We're not here to argue that a new school of thought needs to enter the profession on a leadership level, we're talking about the current way of doing things. Is it still valuable? I think so. And some might argue the more you disagree with the current direction of the institute, the more imperative it is that you retain membership.
There are, of course, many who feel the AICPA has lost its way and gone from guardian of the profession to "a revenue-obsessed juggernaut." We won't argue that point here since we're talking about membership fees and not CPA2Biz stock.
Any time I've needed clarification on a CPA exam item for you guys, the AICPA has gotten back to me and given me that information. Your membership fees go to pay people to answer stupid questions I email them on your behalf. I'd say that's pretty useful on its own.
So, to sum it up: the value = discounts, cheap life insurance, lobbyists "protecting" your profession in Washington. Is it worth the annual fee? Definitely, especially if someone else is paying.