An accounting career, once a launchpad into the upper middle class for hundreds of thousands of Americans, is no longer paying off.
Salaries have risen for young people in finance, marketing, logistics and consulting in recent years. Even young teachers have seen a slight uptick. At the same time, the median, inflation-adjusted pay for young accountants has stagnated, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of salary data compiled by the Census Bureau.
This pay disparity is a major reason why fewer people are choosing accounting careers, threatening to worsen an already dire shortage of accountants. Some of the nation’s largest college accounting programs, such as Florida Atlantic University and the University of Maryland, have seen their enrollment or number of undergraduate majors decline by double-digit percentages in recent years. That has led to even greater workloads for existing accountants, and more than 300,000 have left the profession between 2019 and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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