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Reaching high school students: Ideas from CPAs

February 13, 2024  |  Corey Butler

Reaching high school students: Ideas from CPAs

Much has been shared about the shrinking accounting pipeline and how it’s affecting the industry today and into the future. You may read about it here — and here, here, here and here. There are also loads of other places you can learn about the challenge and what’s being done to address the issue in Minnesota.

And while pundits and leaders within the industry are working out ways to reverse the pipeline trend, it remains imperative that all those working in the industry, including our very members, are actively involved in mitigating the leak today and supporting changes to not only patch up the holes but meaningfully fill the pipeline.

So, as part of our annual MNCPA Tax Survey, we recently asked members a score of questions, including their ideas about what they have done or suggest for encouraging more students to get involved in the accounting industry and, ultimately, earn the CPA licensure. Full disclosure: Those surveyed are in public accounting and are either partners or other prominent levels of leadership or are small-firm owners.

Your peers had plenty of ideas, but the majority revolved around three core areas:

Early exposure to the profession

  • Make the career and industry more visible from an earlier age (high school) and better share all the career opportunities within the profession.
  • More mentorships and exposure to the industry so they can find out it’s not just punching a calculator or sitting in an office.
  • Get accounting classes back into the high schools. Let them know it is a basis for business — a core skill!
  • There needs to be more internships throughout the year and better promotion at high schools. To do so, accounting should be added to the STEM curriculum.
  • Have them learn about what CPAs really do on a daily basis. It’s about people, solving problems and giving good advice. It’s not all about math.
  • Encourage more businesses to have short-term internships.

Examine pathways to licensure

  • Drop the extra year of college. It’s too expensive and the exam doesn’t provide enough value to the overall profession.
  • Provide an option beyond the 150-hour rule.
  • Reduce the number of credits needed to sit for the exam.
  • Get rid of the 150 hours requirement (go back to 120).
  • The cost of the CPA needs to be reduced.
  • Redo college courses to enable a four-year degree to be sufficient to qualify for the exam.

Evolve the workplace

  • Offer higher starting pay.
  • Provide rewards commensurate with risks and responsibilities. Focus should be on work-life balance.
  • Firms shouldn’t expect staff to work as many hours as they do. They are chasing staff out of the industry and keeping from others getting into it.
  • Flexible work location/schedule.
  • Increase pay and somehow ease the deadline stress of tax filing.
  • Young people don’t like the hours required in public accounting.

Learn more about this CPA pathways initiative

Do you want to learn more about this effort? You can keep up with the evolving conversation by visiting the MNCPA’s webpage about the broadening pathways to CPA licensure initiative.

Visit CPA Pathways Page

Topics: Legislative & Government Affairs, Regulation, Staffing, Professional Certification, Succession, Government, Education, MNCPA Programs & Activities

Corey Butler

Corey Butler is the MNCPA communications manager, working to enhance the professional reputations of members through content, media relations and public affairs. He's been with the MNCPA since 2013. Corey keeps busy outside of the MNCPA spending time with his wife and children, serving on his local school board, volunteering in his community and catching up on long-lost hobbies. Corey enjoys the works of John Steinbeck and Rankin/Bass Productions, and Paul Bunyan, Robin Hood and Santa Claus lore. You may reach him at 952-885-5530 or

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