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CPA Exam Takers in 2022: Fewest in 17 Years

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
May 30, 2023

iStock-CPA Exam

The number of people taking the CPA exam in 2022 was the lowest in 17 years, which is causing concern for many businesses, The Financial Times reported.

The latest figures by the AICPA show that just over 67,000 people took the CPA exam in 2022, down from 72,000 in 2021 and below its forecast of 74,000, according to its annual report. That was the lowest level since the beginning of records for the modern exam in 2006.

The AICPA was predicting a 10 per cent rise overall this year, in part spurred by upcoming changes to the exam, according to the FT.

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) told the FT that the number of its U.S. candidates declined by 5 percent last year.

“It is becoming a crisis, and not just for accounting firms but for companies,” Dennis Whitney, senior vice president at the IMA, told the FT. “Accountants are the backbone of companies not just for financial reporting purposes but for helping them make decisions.”

Businesses are taking notice of the shortages.

Wayne Berson, the head of BDO USA, told the FT earlier this month that his firm planned to double its overseas staff and shift more work offshore because of the shortage.

The requirements needed for licensure, as well as the starting salaries for those in other finance- or technology-related fields that require less onerous qualifications, may also be factors.

“With the length of time it takes to become a partner, the length of time it takes to achieve financial success, the financial model of CPA firms is archaic,” Alan Whitman, former head of Baker Tilly, told the FT. “Firms need to work on improving the attractiveness of the profession through a variety of ways, the most important being reimagining the operating model and career progression.”

“You’ve got a generation that is looking for a shorter [return on investment],” said AICPA Vice President Mike Decker, who told the FT that the AICPA is increasing its scholarships to help candidates and encouraging firms to offer competitive salaries.