Work for Credit Programs Gain Ground

by Aiysha Johnson (AJ), MA, IOM, NJCPA CEO and Executive Director – December 14, 2023
Work for Credit Programs Gain Ground

The NJCPA welcomes initiatives to combat the declining pipeline of CPA candidates. Withum and Seton Hall University recently teamed up to offer a one-year pilot program of paid, full-time employment to five Seton Hall graduates looking to complete the 150-credit hour requirement necessary for CPA licensure. This comes in the wake of Saint Peter’s University and PwC joining forces to offer a work-for-credit program that assists students in obtaining the extra credits necessary in a more economically feasible way. 

Aptly called The CPA Pathway Appren­ticeship, Withum and Seton Hall’s initiative created a way for six Seton Hall graduates to work at Withum, be paid a full-time salary and achieve the additional 30 credit hours necessary to fulfill CPA licensure requirements. If they take their CPA Exam during that time, they could also start as entry-level Staff I team membersat Withum. The students will have the opportunity to work in all service lines and industries while earning the credits. 

Similarly, under the first year of the Saint Peter’s/PwC program, six participants received the 30 credits required to be licensed as a CPA. PwC covered the cost of tuition and paid the participants as full-time employees. The program is now in its second year. In 2021, PwC joined forces with Northeastern University for a similar program targeting Black and Latinx students. 

The NJCPA applauds programs like these and supports the efforts by the Amer­ican Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to reduce the financial burden for aspiring CPAs. According to a Center for Audit Quality report, the 150-credit-hour requirement was among the major hindrances in becoming a CPA and was the biggest reason among Black and Hispanic business-related majors. In August, the AICPA and NASBA launched a post-graduate program with the Tulane School of Professional Advancement called Experience, Learn and Earn (ELE). Participating firms will team up with Tulane to work with the students and allow them time to study and apply what they learn. Through ELE, students can earn up to 30 credits at a reduced rate.

We encourage more schools and CPA firms to get involved with assisting young professionals on their journey towards CPA licensure. Reducing barriers is an important part of growing the CPA pipe­line. While these programs eliminate the cost of the extra credits and the common practice of students taking any courses to fulfill those credit requirements above the usual 120-credit college course load, it also assists with entry-level hiring needs that accounting firms may have.

New CPA Exam on Tap

CPA Evolution and the launch of the new CPA Exam in January are also part of the initiative to increase the number of accounting professionals. Instituting the new core+ discipline model of the CPA Exam should more closely align with current day-to-day demands of the profession and those of the future. Having a deeper emphasis on technology will bring the profession forward. 

Under the new CPA Exam, the current Auditing & Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR) and Taxation & Regulation (REG) sections will comprise the new core section, and the current Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section will be replaced with a selection of one discipline in the areas of Business Analysis & Reporting (BAR), Information Systems & Controls (ISC) and Tax Compliance & Planning (TCP). 

Aiysha  Johnson

Aiysha Johnson

Aiysha (AJ) Johnson, MA, is the CEO and executive director of the New Jersey Society of CPAs.

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This article appeared in the winter 2023/24 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.