Financial Planning | Leadership / Management | Organizational Development | Training & CPE

It’s a great time to study accounting. Here’s why.

Pull Talk about your win-win scenario.

A record number of accounting grads are jumping feet-first into a job market that finds nearly three-quarters of the largest accounting firms planning to hire more folks than last year. That's according to the AICPA's "Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits" report for 2011.

There's one potential sticking point, though:

"The report shows record numbers of accounting students and graduates," the AICPA reports, "but also hints at a potential challenge for the profession: Demand for new talent eventually could outpace supply."

Whoa ... anyone else get that funny déjà vu feeling besides me? Weren't we were dealing with major supply issues not long ago, too? Then came Enron, and a funny thing happened: CPAs became sexy. Everyone wanted to study accounting, and enrollments soared.

In the wake of a pretty nasty recession and the reforms that have come in its wake, will lightning strike twice? Time will tell.

In the meantime, there are things accounting students can do to make themselves irresistible to potential employers. Most of them involve building their business development skills. In this Journal of Accountancy article, Mark Koziel says students and young CPAs would be smart to focus on public speaking, recruiting, financial literacy efforts, volunteerism and internal training.

"Business development is a difficult thing to teach, and it’s unrealistic to expect the skills to come naturally to many CPAs," Koziel writes. "By having leaders set expectations for them upfront, younger team members will quickly realize that business development is a necessary part of their professional growth."

And graduates, if you're looking for a place to further your career, you could do worse than the mid-Atlantic region. Baltimore and Washington both made Kiplinger's list of "10 Great Cities for College Grads." Here's what Kiplinger had to say.

About Baltimore: "Charm City weathered the recession with low foreclosure rates, and income growth remains strong. Downtown Baltimore is in the midst of several multimillion-dollar development projects. It ranks higher than Austin, Denver and Atlanta in per capita income for downtown residents. And as many music fans know, few cities can match Baltimore for its innovative, eclectic art and music scene."

About Washington: "By 2012, Uncle Sam will make another 25,000 hires in the region -- paying more, on average, than the private sector. As in other large cities, well-paying jobs come with higher rents and living costs. But recent grads can look to eclectic neighborhoods like Adams-Morgan and Columbia Heights for cheaper rent. An abundance of free museums, concerts and other entertainment also lessens the cost-of-living sting."

So you're an accounting grad in the mid-Atlantic? That's pure gold, friend.

Are you a new CPA?
Join us for the MACPA's annual New CPA Swearing-In Ceremony, slated for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 2 at the BWI Hilton. It's a tradition you won't want to miss. Get details and register here.


Bill Sheridan