Illinois CPA Society Releases Updated CPA Pipeline Report

A new national survey reveals “time” is why more accounting majors and young professionals are skipping over becoming certified public accountants.

CHICAGO, May 16, 2024 – Unveiling the findings of its previously announced research into the decreasing supply of new certified public accountants (CPAs), the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS)—one of the largest state CPA societies in the nation—is pleased to release its 2024 Insight Special Feature, “Re-Decoding the Decline: An Updated CPA Pipeline Report.”

In October 2023, ICPAS, in partnership with the Center for Accounting Transformation, convened a coalition of 27 additional research partners—including the American Accounting Association, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Beta Alpha Psi, and 24 other state-based CPA membership associations—to collaboratively conduct a new national survey to gain fresh insight into the current drivers of accounting students and young professionals’ decisions to become CPAs or not.

Thanks to the widespread distribution efforts, 7,780 accounting students, graduates, and young professionals under the age of 35 who were pursuing or had pursued accounting degrees and careers—including CPAs and non-CPAs—completed the survey, including 3,287 full- or part-time students. In all, the survey responses compiled represent respondent perspectives from every state in the nation, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and even abroad.

“Re-Decoding the Decline” reveals respondents’ perceptions of CPAs and the CPA credential, along with the top challenges and deterrents driving their decisions to pursue the CPA credential or not. The findings provide invaluable insights the CPA profession and its stakeholders cannot ignore while trying to counter the persistent decline in the number of individuals pursuing the CPA credential.

Among all respondents surveyed, “time” emerged as the top-ranked challenge—or deterrent—to becoming a CPA. Here are the five top-ranked challenges impacting prospective CPAs:

  1. Workload time commitments to study for the exam.
  2. Personal time commitments to study for the exam.
  3. Difficulty of exam content.
  4. Fear of failing the exam.
  5. Navigating the exam application process.

“In 2016, we warned action was needed to better steward prospective CPAs to head-off a future talent crisis in the profession. Five years later, in ‘Decoding the Decline,’ we revealed the reasons behind the stagnating CPA pipeline based on a similar audience’s insights. Now, another three years later, the drain on the CPA pipeline has only gotten worse,” says Geoffrey Brown, CAE, ICPAS president and CEO. “It’s time we take to heart what prospective CPAs are telling us and align on how to restore the talent pipeline and chart the path forward. It’s our hope this new research will be used to lead meaningful discussions that drive action and lasting change.”

All the survey findings are reported in “Re-Decoding the Decline,” which is available now in PDF and digital formats at, and print editions are available upon request. Brown welcomes reader feedback and is available for further commentary on the factors impacting the CPA pipeline today.



Questions, comments, and feedback

Derrick Lilly
Asst. Director Communications & Publications | 312.517.7614