June 2000


Beginning in January 2001, CPA candidates will be required to complete a 150-hour academic program in order to be eligible to sit for the uniform CPA examination, an increase from the current 120-hour requirement.

A recent survey conducted jointly by the 26,000-member Illinois CPA Society and Illinois College showed that 95% of the state's 40 largest public accounting firms will continue to hire 120-hour graduates after the new educational requirement goes into effect.

When asked how much of an increase in base salary they would expect to pay for 150-hour graduates, 64% of the participating firms said a 10% increase, 17% said a 20% increase, and 12% said they would not increase base salaries for 150-hour graduates.

In response to the question, "If you hire 120-hour graduates who, after a period of time, show real affinity for the work, will you support them with time and tuition reimbursement as they pursue the additional 30 hours or graduate degree?" 17% of the respondents said they would provide full support, 46% would provide partial support, 34% were uncertain, and 3% would offer no support.

In addition to the survey, the Illinois CPA Society recently held a forum comprising 21 managing partners from some of the state's largest accounting firms to discuss alternative personnel strategies for hiring professionals. Two significant trends--decreasing enrollments in some schools of accountancy and the 150-hour requirement--are causing firms to look beyond accounting graduates to meet their staffing needs.

The forum focused on the assumption that some tasks currently assigned to young CPAs or accounting majors could, with specialized training, be performed by individuals without an accounting major or CPA designation.

The results of the discussion largely confirmed the survey findings: Non-CPAs are likely to increasingly assume responsibility for tasks and functions formerly performed by CPAs. Nevertheless, forum participants felt that CPAs would continue to be hired to make judgments and attestations authorized by their certification. Participants also believed that most accounting firms would offer multiple career paths to non-CPA employees--even in the attest-related functions.

The survey results and a summary of the forum are available at the Illinois CPA Society's website, www.icpas.org/icpas/business/business.htm. *

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