Scope of Professional Accountants in Academia | Uplift Professionals

The world of education — classrooms, students and tests — might, at first glance, seem distant from the business world. But many of the skills and traits that teachers, coaches, and other educators possess provide a strong foundation for navigating the world of commerce — especially as an accountant. Teachers listen intently, extend empathy, and translate complicated material into plain language, all key attributes of a seasoned and successful accountant. If you’re a teacher contemplating a career change, accounting is a great way to leverage skills you already have, earn more money and open a world of new opportunities.

Are you an accounting or finance professional who has wondered what it might be like to teach accounting at a university or college? Do you have a natural curiosity about business practices or market responses that leads you to ask questions about how or why? Whether you have interest in only teaching or in accounting research as well, there are a number of options for you as an accounting practitioner.

You might just find that an academic position is the perfect path to a flexible, stable, intellectually stimulating, and rewarding career. Besides the minimum academic degree required to enter the academic job arena, a professional certification like US CPA or CMA will be helpful for both your professional life and for landing a teaching job, so go ahead and pursue one or more appropriate certifications.

Scope of a CPA in Academia

After years of working as a CPA either in the public or private sector, you might eventually start wanting a change of pace and considering an alternative career path. Or, maybe you have an inner calling to teach others what you have learned working in the profession and want to help others become CPAs.  Becoming an accounting professor provides an amazing opportunity to do just that.

And, as an accounting professor who already has the CPA credential, you’ll be able to demonstrate to accounting students what it’s like to walk the CPA path and set the correct expectations for their future careers. Leading by example is a great way to encourage students to become CPAs.

The Shortage of Accounting Professors

CPAs can make up to $119,000 per year and CPAs with more than 20 years of experience average $152,000 per year. Coupled with the fact that accounting offers challenging and variable work with flexible schedules, accountants rarely want to give this up to teach in a classroom. For this and other reasons, universities have a difficult time attracting and keeping lecturers and professors in accounting.

So, many schools have been forced to increase the sizes of existing classes because of the shortage of accounting professors. The need for more professors in the accounting field creates an excellent opportunity for those CPAs looking to transition into a career in academia.

Steps for Transitioning into Teaching

The good news is that because accounting professors are in such high demand, many schools will easily work with future accounting professors to make the transition from working at a firm to teaching as a professor as easy as possible. Below are steps to consider when looking into becoming an accounting professor.

1. Start Teaching Now

If you hold a master’s degree with your CPA, you can apply to existing teaching opportunities at both universities and colleges.  The benefit of teaching now is that you can keep your day job while putting in a few hours in academia to see if you like it or not. Generally, you might end up working as an adjunct member of a college accounting faculty. This is a great opportunity to work in your future field and to get teaching experience.

2. Consider Tenured or Non-Tenured Track

If you decide you want to proceed with full-time employment in academia, you’ll need to consider which path you’ll take as a professor – tenured or non-tenured. Keep in mind that tenured professors typically make more money and have more job security than non-tenured professors. However, if you take the tenured professor route, you must pursue a Ph.D.

3. Research Scholarship Opportunities

There are several programs at both state CPA societies and academic institutions to financially help CPAs transition into new careers as accounting professors. These programs can significantly reduce the cost and risk of the transition into academia. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) offers several scholarships to assist CPAs in pursuing their Ph.D. in accounting. A list of available scholarships from the AICPA can be found on their scholarship Webpage.

4.  Choose a Doctoral Program That Aligns with Your Goals

It’s important to look for a graduate program that is willing to help you easily get started towards working on your Ph.D. in accounting. Also, look specifically for schools that align with both your academic and overall career goals before submitting application materials. You want to ensure that your journey to becoming a professor is at an institution that will be supportive of you throughout the entire process.

Finally, if you’re a current accounting professor who is considering working towards your CPA credential, keep in mind the value the credential will have not only for you but your future students as well. When students in a classroom setting can visualize how a job is conducted in the real world and how to challenge and find resolutions in the business world from their professor, it makes the field both more relevant and relatable.

When most people think of accounting positions, they think of public or private. The accounting world isn’t nearly so limited, though. One often overlooked option is a CPA career path in academia. While different from traditional accounting positions in a number of ways, it has its own appeal and rewards.

What Accounting in Academia Entails?

As an accounting professor, a CPA would be a member of the faculty at a business college, professional school of accounting, graduate business school, or community college. Job responsibilities would include teaching courses in all areas of accounting, including financial accounting, taxes, auditing, professional ethics, managerial accounting, and more. Professors are also often expected to continue their own research and education and to pursue publication, giving ample opportunity for self-improvement and personal success through the publishing of papers, books, and lecturing.

Why Choose a Career Path in Academia?

There are many reasons for CPAs to consider careers in academia. Data shows that there is great demand for accounting faculty and with the average age of current faculty being 60, these tenured professors will soon be up for retirement, leaving their positions to be filled. While professors are in short supply, demand for accountants is very high, so there is little chance those positions would be tenuous ones.

Scope of a CMA in Academia

Though the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) designation has historically been the familiar choice in academia, other certifications such as the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) are increasingly being recognized and sought after for distinction when applying for teaching positions.

University Grants Commission (UGC) has notified “UGC Regulations on Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education, 2010 vide its Circular No. F.3-1/2009 dated 30th June 2010.

The Regulations prescribe the minimum qualification for appointment of teaching faculty in universities and colleges in the area of Management/ Business Administration. The qualifications specified for appointment of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor in the above area and Principal/Director/Head of the Institution include First Class Graduate and professionally qualified Cost Accountant among other qualifications and subject to other requirements including qualifying NET/SLET/SET as the minimum eligibility condition for recruitment and appointment of Assistant Professors.

On completion of the CMA, one can be eligible to explore the professional auditing field. Also, one can become teaching faculty in degree, post-graduate colleges and university. Remember you also have the option to start your own coaching academy. For this you should be having complete knowledge of subject/s for which you take coaching.

Further Academic pursuits:

Recognized by the Academic Councils of many Universities in India for the purpose of admission to the Ph.D. courses in Commerce. Various Universities have recognized CMA qualification for registration as M.Phil. and Ph.D. candidates in commerce and allied disciplines. MOU between Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU): As per MOU dated 11th July, 2008, IGNOU offers specialized B. Com and M. Com Programs for the students.

The students can simultaneously study the specialized B. Com (Financial & Cost Accounting) programme with the Institute’s Intermediate Course and specialized M. Com (Management Accounting & Financial Strategies) with the Institute’s Final Course.


An accounting teacher’s salary in India with less than 2 year of experience to 15 years ranges from ₹ 0.3 Lakhs to ₹ 9.0 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 3.0 Lakhs based on 141 salaries.


A career as an accounting professor has other benefits, as well. While traditional accounting jobs can require long hours that fluctuate throughout the year, a professor’s hours are very consistent, with the professor often able to have input into how they would like their schedules to be set up. This allows for more work-life balance, and, particularly for those with families, this can be an appealing feature of an academic career that few other accounting positions can offer.

In addition to these perks, universities often offer a tenure track that can translate into long-term job stability. With tenure, a person can expect to have a permanent position until they retire of their own will. Retirement income for professors is another draw.  Retirement plans in education are some of the finest out there, and the authority and renown that comes with a position at a reputable university is appealing as well.

There is also an element of giving back in an academic career that is lacking from some accounting jobs. At a time when more and more people are looking for careers that are steady while also providing a sense of personal satisfaction and opportunities for personal growth, the desire to teach and have an impact on students’ lives motivates many to pursue careers in academia.

Lastly, transitioning to academia after a period of time in public or private accounting can be a welcome breath of fresh air. Time spent in the public sphere can offer great information and perspective for an accounting professor that can be shared to benefit their students.

Nowadays, there are a lot of training institutes in India like Uplift Professionals who teach a good number of professional international courses in accounts and finance including CPA and CMA. If you are a qualified US CMA or CPA and have the attitude and skill for teaching, you can be a faculty in such institutes also.

Summing up, the take home message is, academia is also a good option for global professional certificate holders in accounts and finance, particularly for those who have an inclination for teaching. So, take advantage of any opportunities you have to develop and hone your teaching skills. As you do so, there will likely be a place for you to help train the next generation of accounting professionals.

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