Accounting

Young accountants still value the CPA credential

But many of them say they don’t have time to study for the CPA exam.
article cover

Pch-Vector/Getty Images

· less than 3 min read

News built for finance pros

CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.

It’s the money, honey: 60% of accounting students and young accounting talent say salary’s the top factor they look for in a job or profession. That’s according to a survey of 7780 accounting students, recent grads, and accounting professionals under 35, mainly located in the US, conducted last year by the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS). Job security came in as the second-most-prized factor at 37%, followed closely by work-life balance (35%) and opportunities for advancement (34%).

CPAs still valued: Fewer people have been sitting for the CPA exam in recent years. According to the AICPA’s 2023 Trends report, the number of unique CPA exam candidates dropped sharply last year to 67,336 from its 2021 high of 102,291.

It’s not because accounting majors and grads don’t value the CPA credential any more, the ICPAS survey found. The vast majority (85%) said having a CPA was either valuable or very valuable in the marketplace. They also see the credential as a pathway to the career benefits they said they valued most: Upwards of three-quarters said it opened doors with employers (83%) and led to greater job security (77%) and higher earning potential (76%). Two-thirds (66%) agreed the credential was worth the time and cost it takes to attain.

Under pressure: Why, then, aren’t they sitting for the CPA exam? Many of them say they lack the time; 43% of respondents named not having time to study, for either professional or personal reasons, as either their top challenge when pursuing licensure or the reason why they chose not to pursue it. Another 25% said that workplace time commitments, in particular, were their biggest stumbling block.

Other key obstacles to getting a CPA included the difficulty of the exam (11%) and fear of failure (9%). One takeaway for employers that want staff to pursue licensure, ICPAS suggested, is “helping prospective CPAs on the payroll manage their workload time commitments.”

News built for finance pros

CFO Brew helps finance pros navigate their roles with insights into risk management, compliance, and strategy through our newsletter, virtual events, and digital guides.