Is there a Shortage of Accountants? Insights for CFOs & Controllers in Arizona

Insights for CFOs & Controllers in Arizona

The shortage of accountants is a stark reality facing the industry, directly impacting CFOs and Controllers who are dealing with the ramifications on a daily basis.

If you’ve hired accounting staff over the past few years, you likely have firsthand witnessed this shortage.

Consider the following facts:

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 1.65 million accountants and auditors in the U.S. in 2022, down 15.9% from 2019.
  • According to a Wall Street Journal report, more than 300,000 accountants quit their jobs between 2019 and 2021. 
  • According to the AICPA, 75% of CPAs have reached retirement eligibility by 2020. 
  • ASU reported a 10% decrease in bachelor’s degrees in accounting awarded during the 2020-2021 academic year compared to the previous year.

The facts show that the accounting landscape has changed, translating to a shrinking talent pool for accounting departments in Arizona and nationwide.

But, in Arizona is the shortage that bad?

While ASU showed a 10% decrease in Accounting Degrees

Let’s look closer to home at Universities across Arizona for graduating statistics for the 2020 – 2021 Academic Year. According to

  • NAU: Awarded 91 accounting degrees, a 17% INCREASE
  • U of A: Awarded 176 accounting degrees, a 15% INCREASE
  • GCU: Awarded 218 accounting degrees, a 1% INCREASE

In reviewing degree trends from ASU from prior years, B.S. degrees in accounting were awarded as follows:

2013: 263 degrees

2015: 252 degrees

2018: 231 degrees

You’ll notice a 7% decrease in the number of accounting degrees from ASU between 2013 and 2021.

Outside Competition for Accountants

In 2020, once the COVID lockdowns happened, we saw a growing trend of companies from outside Arizona poaching our state’s accounting talent for remote positions. In most cases, the out-of-state companies were paying higher salaries while offering the convenience of being fully remote.

It is happening less right now, but we have a significant number of local accountants working for out-of-state companies.

Is the Shortage as Bad as we Think?

No, it is just different. It is a matter of adaptation and evolution. We must change the perception of the trends and industry. And we must get rid of ‘old school’ thinking.

Times have changed. Salaries have gone up. Yes, accounting is a cost center, and as the CFO/Controller, you know just how much raising salaries decreases the bottom line.

But, while sectors like finance, marketing, and logistics have seen salary increases, accounting has lagged. This means that the median, inflation-adjusted pay for new grads is stagnating. (WSJ)

There is Hope

The accounting talent crunch presents a multifaceted challenge, but a CFO and Controller can overcome it with innovative responses. Traditional recruitment and retention approaches are no longer sufficient.

Stay tuned for upcoming Insights

The landscape of accounting talent is shifting, demanding reevaluating our strategies. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore ways to reframe the narrative around the accounting profession, empowering you to retain and successfully hire talent within Arizona.

If you are currently hiring and would like to see how to write the most effective job posting. Check out our advice here.  Also, if you have question or need more help, reach out directly at (480) 477-8440 or email.


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About The Resource Link

For almost two decades, The Resource Link has strategically placed Accounting & Finance talent with some of the best companies in Arizona! We consult with our hiring managers and candidates to dive into the best solutions and outcomes and we provide advice and feedback along the way. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or just pick up the phone! We would love to hear from you to help you build the best team or find the best career.



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Bernadette Grattan, founder of The Resource Link

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