Accounting Association Notes Strong Demand for Accounting Grads
As this year’s grads turned their tassels, many students had completed their education without a job lined up. That’s because ongoing economic problems is still keeping some companies and entire industries on the sidelines when it comes to new hires.
Demand for Accountants
One group of recent grads won’t have much trouble finding work this year. That’s because demand for accounting grads is strong according to a report issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the world’s largest association representing professional accountants. The report — Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits — shows more accounting students and graduates then ever before, but also suggest a possible challenge for the profession: demand for new talent eventually could outpace supply.
“Opportunities in the accounting profession continue to expand as the needs of firms and businesses grow ever more complex and global,” said Jeannie Patton, AICPA vice president for students, academics and membership. “As the U.S. and global economies recover, and as seasoned professionals begin to retire in unprecedented numbers, it’s even more important to guard against a talent shortage. Employers increasingly want graduates with advanced degrees at the same time colleges, facing budget and other constraints, are restricted in their capacity to train all the students who want to join our profession.”
AICPA and BLS
The AICPA findings parallel what the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecast, noting that growth in accounting and auditing jobs would be robust from 2008 to 2018, forecasting an increase of 22 percent for that 10-year period. Grads possessing CPA credentials and having master’s degrees are the most likely to gain employment.
The AICPA survey found that 226,108 students were enrolled in undergraduate or graduate accounting programs during the 2009-2010 academic year, a 6 percent increase over 2007-2008, the last time the AICPA conducted its survey. A record 68,639 students graduated with accounting degrees in 2010; data for 2011 is not yet complete.
Approximately 4 in 10 accounting graduates hired in 2010 by CPA firms had master’s degrees, compared with just 26 percent in 2008. In comparison, some 43 percent of graduates hired had bachelor’s degrees, down from 56 percent in 2008. Clearly, the statistical evidence is supporting AICPA claims that CPAs and students possessing master’s degrees are in greater demand today.
Struggling to Keep Up
Schools are finding that they are receiving more applicants for accounting majors then they can handle with some rejecting qualified candidates because they have a limited number of seats available. Budget restrictions at some universities are keeping some programs from expanding while other programs are losing qualified instructors to retirement.