Why Your Job Prospects Are Better Than You Think

More firms are hiring. CPA job satisfaction remains strong. Today's best career advice: join the survey; get the answers.

September 18, 2008
by Rick Telberg/On Careers

Economic uncertainty. Political change. Shifting business conditions. Globalization. Technology. Death and taxes.

For many businesses, these are difficult and treacherous times. But for CPAs, these are the times that require the skills and experiences that only CPAs can provide.


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It's a great time to be a CPA. Demand for CPAs has rarely been stronger. CPAs are as happy as ever in their jobs. And the opportunities seem limitless.

That's good for CPAs and the CPA profession, but not as good for the accounting firms and finance organizations that are scrambling to fill open positions and retain experienced professionals.

In the marketplace for CPA labor, it's clearly a seller's market, with twice as many workplaces reporting plans to add to professional headcount as plans to cut, according to a new CPA Trendlines study. Details are scheduled to be published in an upcoming issue of the AICPA flagship print magazine, Journal of Accountancy. Learn more about the upcoming Careers section in the JoA.

According to the first 199 responses to the study, more than one-third (36%) of CPA workplaces will be adding to their workforces in the next 12 months, compared to 16 percent reducing headcount and nearly half (48%) holding steady.

At the same time, roughly 30 percent of CPAs say they wouldn't consider a job change. But 34 percent "could be persuaded" by the right situation; 24 percent would "probably" consider a new job; and 12 percent are committed to looking for a new job.

Despite the healthy job outlook for CPAs, many remain personally worried by political and economic uncertainties. Only one in three (36%) are confident they could "find a better job" during the next 12 months, compared with 40 percent who are less than confident.

The findings caught the eye of Melissa Waldon, a spokesperson for The Mergis Group, which specializes in accounting and finance recruitment. "Interestingly, while the accounting industry hasn't been directly affected by the downward economy, the perception among A&F (accounting and finance) professionals is quite the opposite," Waldon commented.

Mergis's latest quarterly survey of 318 accounting and finance professionals showed, she said, "a continued decline in workers' overall confidence as the result of on-going concerns about the economy and job market, despite continued growth in specific financial sectors such as accounting and tax regulation."

But CPAs, a conservative lot by nature, are discernibly rattled. "For a third consecutive quarter, executive CPAs serving in business and industry continue to foresee slowing economic growth ahead," the AICPA reported.

CPAs are understandably worried about their clients and their own companies. But, for now anyway, the career outlook is strong and steady.

THE CAREERS AND STAFFING OUTLOOK: Who's hiring? Who's looking? Get today's best CPA career advice. Join the CPA Trendlines survey; get the answers.

WATCH FOR THE SPECIAL SECTION in the December issue of the Journal of Accountancy.

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