Stay in School: Using Your CPA License to Give Back in Education

CPA educator

Practicing CPAs will tell you that one of the things they love about accounting is that it’s always changing and evolving. Which also makes it a great field for educators. If you’ve ever thought you’d make a great teacher, consider that there will likely always be a steady demand for accounting educators.

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Of course, if you’re in school now, or just recently out of school, going back may be the last thing you want to do. Just keep an open mind. Because accounting is a pretty sweet field for teachers, many of whom continue to practice on the side. You could go on to get your Ph.D. and teach at a college or use your experience to teach at the community college level. You could keep your day job and teach a few classes on the side, or vice versa – teaching full-time and consulting on the side. There’s also a need for teachers at the high-school level. Basically, if you want to teach accounting, you have lots of options.

Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t cross teaching off your list of possible careers:

Meet the demand. The long-term prospects for accounting careers are strong, by most measures. That means there will always be a need for people who can prepare the next generation of CPAs and accountants. In fact, today there’s a growing shortage of academically qualified university accounting faculty members – especially those with real-world experience in audit and tax.

Indulge your curiosity. In addition to teaching, many accounting educators pursue their interests in research, expanding the body of accounting knowledge as they go. Who knows? You could come up with a whole new way for the government to approach the tax code, or revolutionize the way companies perform audits. The field is always changing – and you can help it change in all the right ways.

Do both at once. A lot of accounting educators split their time between active practice, teaching and research. And many full-time educators serve as business consultants to organizations, or even serve as expert witnesses in court cases.

There’s no hurry. Early in your career, it’s all about learning, not teaching. While it’s possible to go straight to graduate school to earn advanced degrees in accounting, many professors at colleges, business schools and community colleges learned their craft as CPAs on the front lines. If you decide you want to teach along the way, it’s always an option.

Have an impact. Who got you excited about the possibility of a career in accounting? There’s a good chance the first person you think of was one of your teachers. Now think about having that kind of impact on a student. It’s a pretty great feeling. 

How to become an accounting educator

There’s no single path to becoming an accounting educator. If you want to go directly to a position as an educator without ever going into practice, start looking for Ph.D. programs in accounting.

However, most educators have some real-world experience under the belt before heading back to the classroom. The AICPA helped create the Accounting Doctoral Scholars Program together with some of the leading firms in the industry and a host of prominent universities across the country. Find all the information you need on the program, including a list of participating universities, at