AICPA Finds Strong Hiring Demand for Accounting Grads

May 17, 2011 ( - Nearly 90% of accounting firms forecast the same or increased hiring of graduates this year compared with 2010, and nearly three quarters (71%) of the largest firms anticipate more hiring.

Survey results in the 2011 “Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits” report released by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants echo findings from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which expects accountants to experience “much faster than average” employment growth in the coming years. A press release said the bureau’s 2010-2011 “Occupational Outlook Handbook” estimates 22% growth in accounting and auditing jobs in the decade between 2008 and 2018, adding that job candidates with professional designations, particularly CPAs, and graduates with masters degrees have the brightest outlook.  

The AICPA found 226,108 students were enrolled in undergraduate or graduate accounting programs during the 2009-2010 academic year – 6% more than in 2007-2008, the last time the AICPA conducted its survey. A record 68,639 students graduated with accounting degrees in 2010. Nearly four in 10 accounting graduates hired last year by CPA firms had master’s degrees, compared with 26% in 2008. By contrast, 43% of graduates hired had bachelor’s degrees, down from 56% in 2008.  

The press release said the shift reflects growing complexity and globalization of the accounting industry, and against that backdrop, colleges and universities are struggling to keep up. According to the AICPA report, a growing number of accounting programs are rejecting qualified applicants because they don’t have capacity to accept them. The increase likely is due to budget constraints at universities brought on by the economic downturn and a shortage of academically qualified professors as many longtime teachers reach retirement.   

Supply and demand information is based on surveys of colleges and public accounting firms conducted between September 2010 and January 2011.  

The report is here.