Perusing The CPA Journal as one does when one is tasked with the onerous burden of reporting on happenings in a profession in which so few things happen, I saw this discussion on CPA Evolution by Nina Terranova Dorata, PhD, CPA and Vincent J. Shea.
In it, questions are tossed out about how accounting education will change along with the ambitious CPA exam overhaul, with concerns raised about the graduates who will apply their pre-Evolution education to a post-Evolution exam. All of that is super interesting and important and worth reading for people who care about those things but here on Going Concern we try to see the bigger picture which in this case is a chart that looks like a dick. Fitting really, as it encapsulates how boned the profession is.
What are we looking at? The authors compared accounting degrees to computer science degrees completed in the state of New York between 2010 and 2020 which is how we ended up with this chode.
According to NASBA, as of August 2022, there are 665,612 licensed CPAs covering 54 jurisdictions (NASBA 2022). As of January 1, 2022, 65,164 are licensed CPAs in New York State (see the New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions, http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/cpa/cpacounts.htm). Between 2015 and 2020, the number of NYS licenses issued declined by approximately 20%. Licenses issued in 2015 and 2020 were 3,282 and 2,626, respectively; this decline in 2020 may be partially attributed to COVID-19 as well as pipeline decline; in 2019 and 2021, 2,796 and 3,092 licenses were issued, respectively, which each represent decreases of 15% and 6% compared to 2015. The clear conclusion is that there has been a declining trend in the number of accounting degrees awarded in New York over recent years. According to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), for all not-for-profit institutions in New York State, the total number of accounting degrees (both graduate and undergraduate) awarded between 2015 and 2020 decreased by approximately 7% in New York. Master’s degrees awarded in accounting, which are programs that qualify for licensure, declined by 10% over the same period. (According to the NYS Inventory of Registered Program, as of May 6, 2022, there are 204 total licensure programs, of which 183 are at the master’s level, 20 are bachelors, and 1 advanced certificate; see http://www.nysed.gov/heds/IRPSL1.html.)
Conversely, from 2015 to 2020, the total number of computer science completed degrees in New York State increased by 130%. Master’s degree in computer science master’s programs increased 76% during the same period. Although in 2020 total accounting degrees completed exceeded computer science degrees by approximately 27%, this is much less than the 216% excess in 2015. Exhibits 2 and 3 illustrate these trends over time.
Exhibit 2 is the chode above. Here’s Exhibit 3 (SFW):
The authors say that these divergent trends in accounting and computer science degrees may be attributed to current salary levels for recent graduates. Let’s be real, that’s a huge reason.
Computer science graduates earn approximately over $100,000, IT auditors $96,000, and public accounting graduates $66,000 (RobertHalf, “2022 Salary Guide,” 2021, https://www.roberthalf.com/salary-guide). Normally, graduates of public accounting and IT auditors typically will have 150 hours of education upon employment; an undergraduate degree in computer science is generally required for entry-level positions.
Looks like the profession is screwed.
Evaluating the CPA Evolution Initiative [The CPA Journal]