As we head into a new decade, it is beneficial to reflect on the past years to see the things that we have done and where we are going. Looking back, we are able to take a look at the accounting profession and see how it has changed in the recent years and where those trends might be leading us. By analyzing some statistics about accounting students and recent accounting graduates, we can vividly see the changes and how the accounting world is evolving and growing.
In the 2017-2018 school year, the amount of students enrolled in bachelor’s accounting programs reached 207,800 students, following the peak year of 2015-2016 which reached 216,500 students.
While some trends are positive, others have seen a decline in the past few years. The number of CPA candidates has shown a downward trend after hitting a peak in 2016 of over 40,000 CPA candidates, 2018 is only showing around 35,000 candidates.
A positive change we have seen is the demographic of accounting bachelor’s graduates. There has been an increase in Hispanic/Latino graduates. With there being more diversity, we can see some positive changes happening in the accounting profession.
The demographics of staff in U.S. accounting firms is an even split between male and female. Looking at the demographic of partners in accounting firms, they seem to stay predominantly male, though I am happy to say, not at our firm. Our partner group is evenly split between male and female.
There has been a trend since 2016 that more non-accountants are being hired at accounting firms reaching a peak in 2018. Graduates with a bachelor’s or master’s in accounting have seen a decline in being hired at accounting firms since 2016. This is an interesting trend and something to keep in mind for the direction the accounting world is going in. At least in the tax department, we are definitely hiring accounting grads. We are also looking for experienced people to hire in. While some returns may have become easier under tax reform, many of our clients returns have become more complicated.
What does the past tell us about the future of accounting? Probably not much. But the future looks bright and we are looking at some changes, even if we aren’t completely sure what these may entail. But it should be exciting!