Deciding on a career is a big decision that needs to be considered from a variety of angles. Questions such as whether or not the career move will be worth it both financially and personally need to be taken into account, as well as where the career is headed into the future. If you’ve been considering a career as a Certified Public Accountant, you’re in luck: there’s really never been a better time to get your CPA license.
From current conditions to the future of the field, the outlook for future Certified Public Accountants is very positive. Still need some convincing? Below, we’ve rounded up the top five reasons why it’s the perfect time to become a CPA, or listen to our own Carolyn Rivera sum it up in this video.
1. The market isn’t saturated
According to the AICPA’s 2019 Accounting Graduates Supply and Demand Report, the number of CPA candidates in 2018 dipped to its lowest level in 10 years. There were only 36,827 candidates compared to 48,000 in 2016 and 49,000 in 2009.
These lower than normal numbers are great news for those who are considering becoming a CPA. The low supply of CPA candidates means the market isn’t saturated, and positions requiring a CPA license will be easier to obtain for those willing to put in the work to obtain licensure. The demand for licensed CPAs will also be higher, which means those with the credential may command higher salaries and better benefits than those without, both in public accounting and industry.
2. The credential can make you a key asset
AI and automation have become major players in the accounting field, and while both may conjure up visions of robots running every accounting function of an organization, the truth is that real humans, especially those with a CPA credential, are still very much a needed asset in the accounting field. CPAs have the ability to examine the accounting functions utilizing AI and automation and ensure efficiency and effectiveness are maintained.
CPAs are also hugely valuable because they’re trained to assess internal controls, manage risk, make business decisions, and strategize. While AI may improve each of these areas at a transaction level, CPAs are the ones who are reviewing the financial accounting and cost accounting information and making the decisions. They’re uniquely qualified to judge business decisions from multiple perspectives, making them essential to any organization looking to grow into a technologically dynamic future.
3. Organizations view the availability of skilled personnel as a top challenge
According to the AICPAs 4th Quarter 2019 Executive Summary portion of their Economic Outlook Survey, the number one concern for organizations is the availability of skilled personnel. Not only was this the top concern for the 4th quarter of 2019, but it’s been the top concern for the last 5 quarters of the Economic Outlook Survey. This means that organizations need skilled personnel, but are having a hard time finding them. The Economic Outlook Survey had 907 qualified respondents from privately owned entities, publicly listed companies, and not-for-profits, proving this is a pervasive issue across industries.
As the accounting career path moves farther and farther away from the stereotypical accountant working in a back room and only having an eye for numbers, a more broad base of skills have been incorporated into the profession, including business administration, information system skills and financial management. While enrollment in accounting degree programs is up compared to ten years ago, the CPA credential proves that you’re an elite professional in your field and you’re ready to meet the demand of organizations around the country looking for skilled personnel. You can set yourself apart with a CPA license, proving you have the work experience to immediately provide value to an organization.
4. Companies are planning on hiring
Before obtaining any credential, it’s good to understand the job market you’ll be going in to. According to the Q4 Economic Outlook Survey, 28% of companies surveyed said they’re planning to hire. Very few respondents noted they had an excess number of employees, meaning many organizations are growing and looking for skilled employees to help drive business growth. Again, this is great news for CPAs looking to start a skilled career; and since respondents were from a variety of organization types, CPAs can mostly have their pick when it comes to which organization they’d like to work for.
5. Accounting is a stable yet rapidly changing career
Like we mentioned above, the field of accounting has been going through some major changes as technology is integrated into the day-to-day lives of finance and accounting professionals. The skill set required of accountants has also been changing; a more broad skill set is expected, and CPAs are naturally becoming higher skilled employees seen in management and C-suite roles. It’s an exciting time for the career, and if you’re really looking for a career that will provide constant challenges and growth opportunities, becoming a CPA is a great option.
On the other hand, accounting has always been and likely will always be a stable career option. Accountants are required in every field, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, and they’re needed in roles around the globe. Even with any economic uncertainty, CPAs will know their credential can provide value and prove they’re a consistent asset to a company.
The demand for CPAs, the continual growth and challenges of the industry, and the strength of the career make it a perfect time to pursue CPA licensure.
Your next step is to find out what you need to do to become a CPA through your state board of accountancy. You’ll have to meet CPA Examination requirements (passing all four parts of the CPA Exam), education requirements (a certain number of credit hours within a bachelor’s degree and/or a master’s degree), experience requirements, and ethics requirements to varying degrees depending on your state. Next, you’ll want to learn more about the CPA Exam; two great resources are the AICPA and NASBA. Then you’ll be on your way to a great career choice.