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Sometimes we get job reports from certain mainstream media outlets that shall remain nameless that look a tad suspect but in the case of this info from the AICPA, I think we can safely rely on the findings.
Here’s the good news via the Journal of Accountancy:
On the demand front, hiring is back on the upswing after decreasing from 2007 to 2008. In 2007, the total number of accounting hires was 36,111. That dropped to 25,488 in 2008 but climbed to 33,321 in 2010. A large portion of that increase was in firms with fewer than 10 CPAs on staff. Firms of that size increased their hiring projections from 11,432 in 2008 to 16,342 in 2010 (see Exhibit 1).
In terms of the types of positions CPA firm new hires were recruited to fill across firms of all sizes, accounting and auditing still commanded a narrow majority at 51%; followed by taxation at 25%; other at 16%; and information technology at 8%.
The accounting and auditing share of new hires was down from 60% in 2007, with the declines coming from firms with 50 or more CPAs. Hiring of new CPA graduates likewise decreased for information technology (down 5 percentage points from 13%). Tax showed a slight increase (2 percentage points) with the strongest gains coming from firms with fewer than 10 CPAs, while the largest growth since 2007 was in the “other” category.
The percentage of overall firms expecting to hire the same or more new accounting graduates than last year also is up—to 89% from 74% when the question was asked in 2008.
Here’s the next obvious question: are we talking about real, created-from-nothing jobs or are we talking about covering massive staff turnover popularized in public accounting by serf-like working conditions and disappointing compensation? Because hiring the same guy in four different firms doesn’t add up the same as hiring four new accounting grads. Duh.
Oh, and something else – where’s 2009? It doesn’t appear in any of the included exhibits, nor is it mentioned in the Journal of Accountancy article even once. The full survey, available from the AICPA’s website, doesn’t specifically mention the exclusion of 2009 in the survey methodology. We aren’t one for conspiracy theories (yeah, right) but it seems suspect that an entire year would just disappear and fail to get a single mention. I mean it was only two years ago.
We’ll dig into the survey results in more detail later, maybe once we track down 2009. Though not specifically mentioned in the above charts, the entire 2009 Trends in the supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits report can be found here.
The short answer: not really anything but I spent 3 years slogging through that last design and can I tell the AICPA that it was absolutely awful? I’m not bitter or anything but I can only imagine what candidates felt like trying to find even the simplest bit of information.
They tell you before you take on the CPA exam to check out cpa-exam.org and run the tutorial before you actually sit down for a section so you can familiarize yourself with the computerized format. CPA Review providers cannot duplicate exam content or the environment exactly, as it is proprietary information, so simulations are a must-do and navigating is a skill you’ll pick up along the way if you don’t already have it. So as long as you’ve already done that, your next stop is the redesigned AICPA website.
Watch a PPT on becoming a CPA, learn about joining the AICPA as a candidate member, or check out their many resources on career options in the accounting industry. You’ve seen Start Here Go Places (an AICPA project that markets the exciting career of accounting to high schoolers and beyond), I don’t need to point you to that.
The AICPA is hot on marketing and excellent at it, even if they do make a poor choice every now and then (Benjamin Bankes, I’m talking about you, dude), so it’s no surprise that they are trying to seduce undecided college students and disgruntled finance professionals looking to switch professions. Things are slightly better in accounting so it isn’t all slick marketing, but I digress.
You can check licensure requirements for your state and even find out how much “average” accountants make. I encourage all of you considering accounting as a career to doublecheck those numbers with Going Concern salary threads.
Overall it’s an improvement and hopefully aggregating this information on the AICPA’s website will make it easier for candidates to find what they need. What do you think?
(Remember also that the ultimate authority on your CPA exam experience is your state board, NASBA, or CPA exam administrating company (like Washington), not the AICPA. Always check with your state board et al. before filing applications or forms if you are unsure on any CPA exam information you read.)
The AICPA recently announced that it would be re-evaluating the CPA exam scoring process and we’ve been wildly speculating awhile as to what that might actually mean. Staying true to the doom and gloom, yours truly immediately thought the AICPA Board of Examiners was convinced you kids would bomb FAR horribly in Q1 and 2 of 2011 with the addition of IFRS and they were just preparing for that.
Upon further reflection, maybe the exam is too easy. Maybe requirements to sit are not strict enough (even though we’re down to 4 states that allow you to sit with 120 units last I checked). Maybe the job market is worse than anyone wants to admit — now wait a minute, what does that have to do with it?
There isn’t raw data that tells us how many would-be CPAs we have on our hands who have passed all four parts of the CPA exam but still can’t get a job, at least none I’ve seen. I’ve spoken to these people and it doesn’t seem to be getting better in the aggregate.
I believe the BLS numbers somewhat concur with this conclusion, if you can believe them. (CPA Trendlines has them)
I hear you guys bitching about it all the time. If you’re still employed and trying to take the CPA exam, you get the extra special designation of ultra-masochist but it’s not you guys the AICPA BoE is worried about, it’s the bottleneck of people who’ve passed the CPA exam trying to squeeze in 2 years in public to get a license.
Case in point, a friend of mine here in the great (broke) state of California decided to take on the CPA exam a tad later in life than some of you. We won’t hate on her for that. She worked her ass off and eventually got through it. She’s a leader of a prestigious accounting society in her community and has the credentials a lot of the kids coming out of school don’t. She can’t find a job. She’s tried every firm in town large and small as well as the surrounding area. I’ve scouted the Bay Area and can’t find anything for her either.
She’d stay more than 2 years and be more than a body filling the chair but they don’t even have a chair for her.
She’s not the only one. So maybe the AICPA BoE caught on and is going to try to change that. They can’t create the jobs so what do you think they’ll do?
Oh, and if anyone has a lead on a public accounting gig in the top half of California for my qualified little friend here, do get in touch.