The benefits of becoming a CPA in today’s economy continue to grow. In fact, the designation has more value to the capital markets than ever before, but fewer new CPA candidates are registering to test for the license. With fewer accounting professionals looking to become a CPA, but a higher demand in the marketplace, you can imagine the tremendous job opportunities that await young CPAs.

I have spent over a decade working for a Big 4 public accounting firm as a campus recruiter, and throughout my time hiring and managing professionals in the industry, I very rarely heard anyone regret obtaining this license. Some may regret their subsequent career path, or working environment, but each and every person knew they had the credentials and acumen to make a quality living using their skills.
That’s because there are three very clear benefits to obtaining the CPA credential in the United States.

Workplace flexibility

Certified Public Accountants work very hard at their craft. This has always been so and will most likely always be. But one huge benefit that can’t be overlooked is the flexibility they have in their careers. That’s because CPAs are taking advantage of trends in the marketplace such as the “gig economy, which, essentially, is freelancing on project-oriented work for several CPA firm clients.

This allows professionals to make their money with a portfolio of clients that can range from small businesses, to non-profit organizations, and even government agencies while still achieving life goals they desire. Whether it’s traveling the world, creating a new business, or starting a family, the “gig economy” could be very beneficial for a new generation of accounting grads. Firms like Beech Valley Solutions provide a network to take advantage of this trend, and many firms are also offering sabbaticals to employees. Keep your job and benefits, take 4 – 6 weeks and travel, study, enjoy your passions. This benefit picked up steam in 2009 when the economy took a turn for the worse and firms wanted to keep talent, but needed to scale back on billable hours.

Career security

CPAs have always been in demand. There is security within a CPA career. Firms from the top all the way down to local CPA firms are always seeking talented professionals to help stabilize and often grow their business. And with standards continuing to evolve, there will always be a need in the market for professionals that can explain the changes and how to apply them. A CPA license confirms that.

Despite firms using technologies like artificial intelligence and resource tactics like offshoring, they still have a high demand for talented CPAs. Don’t believe me? This past fall, I attended over 30 events (Career Fairs, networking nights, banquets, etc). At each event, there was a high number of CPA firms seeking talent, and many of the firms shared with me that they were experiencing a shortage of quality CPA candidates. The demand continues well into your career – with the Bureau of Labor statistics suggesting this field is due a rapid growth spurt before 2026. And even outside of a CPA career, many of the students that I hired early in my career have gone on to be directors, partners, controllers, business owners, and more using their skills elsewhere.

Earning potential

Income matters and, for most grads with accounting degrees, it’s going to come into play when considering job opportunities. Earning potential is the number one reason most students decide to pursue the license. At the entry-level, there is little to no difference in salary, but as the professional grows in their career, the split begins to grow.

On average, a CPA working for a well-performing firm can expect between 8% to 10% increases per year. A non-CPA working for the same well-performing firm may only receive between 2% to 4% in salary increases – and typically, bonuses are also subject to the same ratios. Since CPAs are in demand in the accountancy world, employers wishing to retain qualified, high-performing professionals with CPA certification will pay more to attract and keep talent. In addition, professionals who obtain multiple licenses and certifications will be able to demand even more. Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) are all wise additions to your resume.

Ready to start on your path to earning the CPA credential? Start studying today with Surgent CPA Review – the only truly adaptive CPA review course.