Decoding the Decline

A CPA Pipeline Report: Decoding the Decline

“A stagnating CPA pipeline is a threat. It’s an issue that will only get worse and grow more troubling without action.” We delivered that warning in our 2016 Insight Special Feature, “Pipeline Disruption: The Search for Solutions to the Weakening Supply of CPAs.” Five years later the issue has, in fact, grown worse and more troubling.

Earning the CPA credential has historically been one of the most notable ways to establish a professional identity and exhibit a high level of competence in the accounting profession, yet we are witnessing a nationwide decline in not just new CPAs but also accounting program enrollments. With input from various regional and national stakeholders, we developed a survey targeted toward accounting students, graduates, and professionals under the age of 35—including CPAs and non-CPAs—with the aim of gaining insight into what is truly driving the decline in individuals pursuing the CPA credential and understanding why so many accounting students and young professionals either do not finish the CPA exam or never take it at all.

In this eye-opening 2021 Insight Special Feature, the Illinois CPA Society shares its survey findings, decoding the decline of new CPAs by revealing the real reasons accounting students, graduates, and young professionals are not pursuing the CPA credential like they used to.

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