National Pipeline Advisory Group

Accounting advisory panel releases action plan to address talent shortage in profession

National Pipeline Advisory Group calls for changes to CPA licensure and accounting firm business models, more engaging course work and better messaging on profession’s strengths.

New York (May 14, 2024) – The National Pipeline Advisory Group (NPAG), an independent group of stakeholders working on behalf of the U.S. accounting profession, today released a set of draft recommendations to address the accounting talent shortage.

The proposals fall within six broad themes and target audiences that range from high school students to accounting professionals who have spent five years or less on the job. NPAG, composed of 22 members who represent a cross-section of roles and perspectives within the profession, was convened last summer by the American Institute of CPAs but has conducted its research and deliberations independently, facilitated by ConvergenceCoaching LLC. A final report from the group will be issued in July, including the results of its survey of students, employers and other stakeholders in the profession.

The high-level recommendations from the group are:

  • Address the cost and time of education. NPAG supports a defined progression to modernize CPA licensure requirements on education. One consistent framework would guide this approach: an emphasis on mastery and readiness instead of merely time spent in school or on the job. These progressive steps are: 1) Experiential learning that offers an opportunity to earn college credits through an accredited college or university; 2) experiential learning outside of academia, delivered in a structured way by an employer or third party, and 3) a longer-term plan to create a competency-based licensure model not tied to university credit hours or experience time. NPAG urges the profession to come together in a coordinated way to make these changes and limit the threats to CPA mobility, the system of state laws that allows CPAs to practice outside their home jurisdiction without the need to obtain additional licenses.
  • Make the academic experience more engaging. NPAG endorses ongoing efforts led by the academic community to retool introductory university courses with best-in-class resources, technology and training for educators. Principles of Accounting courses should give students a sense of the prestige and purpose an accounting career can deliver, along with attractive lifetime earning potential. More formalized support options should also be expanded to encourage students to stick with accounting programs.
  • Enhance the employee experience by evolving business models and cultures. With changing demographics and even greater labor shortages projected in the future, students have an almost unlimited number of career and employer choices.  The profession needs starting salaries that are competitive with other fields vying for top talent. Employers need to continue their efforts to make workloads more manageable, tasks more interesting, and advancement opportunities clearer.
  • Prioritize strategies to expand access for the underrepresented at every stage. It’s critical the accounting profession reflect the demographic makeup of the U.S. We can build better awareness of accounting careers among underrepresented populations through targeted messages, scalable college-bound experiential programs, and closer relationships between the profession and colleges and universities with high minority populations.
  • Provide better support to CPA Exam candidates. Recommendations include addressing the cost of the Exam, simplifying the application and eligibility process and reworking the content and/or format of the Exam itself.
  • Tell a better story. While an accounting career can lead to prestigious and financially rewarding work, misperceptions about the profession are persistent. It’s time to collectively do more to turn the tide. Among other recommendations, NPAG is urging accountants to take the Pipeline Pledge – making a commitment to lend their time to encourage students, nurture new workers and convey how they’ve built fulfilling, respected careers.

“From the outset, our group made two commitments: we would hear as many voices as we could on solutions to the talent shortage, and we would be data driven and focused,” said NPAG chair Lexy Kessler, mid-Atlantic regional leader for the accounting firm Aprio. “These recommendations are an outcome of that broad and deep focus. Our next step is to share this information with the profession at large. To be successful, we’ll need a coordinated effort from across the accounting spectrum, one that reflects urgency and shared purpose.”

To read the full report or to sign up for the Pipeline Pledge, please visit

About NPAG
The National Pipeline Advisory Group (NPAG) is committed to developing a unified strategy that reflects the needs of multiple stakeholders, leverages unbiased research, and leads to meaningful change. The independent, 22-member group – established a year ago through a resolution of the American Institute of CPAs’ governing Council – began its work in July 2023 and will issue a final report on its findings this summer.