The 2001 report, The Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits, documents the demographics of the accounting profession. Anyone will find the report useful. It is available online at www.aicpa.org/members/div/career/edu/sagdpar.htm .
The data are based on an AICPA survey of colleges and universities that offer accounting degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s or PhD level and of public accounting firms and sole practitioners affiliated with the Institute.
SUPPLY DATA FROM COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
In 1999–2000, approximately 37,000 students received bachelor’s degrees in accounting and 8,000 earned master’s degrees. Compared to 1998– 1999, the number of bachelor’s degree recipients decreased 10%; however, the number of master’s degrees awarded increased 19%.
Schools in the Southern and Pacific states held steady compared to previous years while schools in the East and North Central regions awarded fewer bachelor’s degrees.
Considerably more females than males received bachelor’s degrees (58% to 42%), about equal percentages received master’s degrees (51% females to 49% males) while more males than females received PhDs (61% to 39%).
Minorities accounted for 20% of accounting bachelor’s and master’s graduates and for 22% of PhDs.
Approximately one-third of 1999–2000 bachelor’s degree recipients took positions with public accounting firms and about one-fourth began their careers in business and industry. A majority of master’s degree recipients (62%) went into public accounting. These proportions parallel 1998–1999 degree recipients.
Enrollments in accounting bachelor’s programs continued to drop (4.5%) from 1998–1999. However, enrollments in master’s programs increased by 10% and in master’s-in-taxation programs by 20%.
The number of candidates sitting for the CPA exam continued to drop. Exam candidates for 2000 totaled 115,493.
DEMAND DATA FROM PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRMS
Firms with 50 to 200 AICPA members and those with fewer than 10 members hired relatively fewer new graduates than in previous years. However, firms employing 10 to 49 members increased their hiring.
Over the years, the Institute has tracked the proportions of new hires working variously in accounting/auditing, taxation and management consulting. In 2000 almost two-thirds of the graduates (65%) accepted accounting or auditing positions, one-fourth took assignments in taxation and 5% began work in management consulting for public accounting firms.
The share of new hires accepting accounting or auditing positions showed the greatest growth—the share of new management consulting hires, the greatest decrease. The percentage of graduates hired into tax positions held steady.
Continuing a trend that began in the early ’90s, females made up the majority (56%) of new graduates hired by public accounting firms.
Twenty percent of new graduate hires were minorities—the same percentage as in the previous year.
Across all firms surveyed the annual turnover rate was 16%, up from 14% during 1999. Turnover rates and firm size were positively correlated.
In 2000 the turnover rate was higher for females than males, especially at the smaller firms.
The largest firms were the most ethnically and racially diverse.
DEMAND PROJECTIONS BY PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRMS
Firms predicted hiring trends compared with their actual hiring figures in 2000.* Firms projected the percentage change for 2001, 2003 and 2005. Predictions for 2001 over 2000 ranged from a 0% increase for the largest firms to a 2% increase for firms employing fewer than 10 members as well as for firms employing 50 to 200 members. Firms with 50 to 200 members were the most optimistic in their hiring estimates.
Firms’ estimates of growth in hiring of nonaccounting graduates were more conservative. Firms employing 50 to 200 members were, again, the most optimistic about long-term growth prospects.
*The survey, which was conducted during the second quarter of 2001, did not reflect either the downturn in the economy during the second half of 2001 or the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.