Angel Stallings, the Detroit Piston’s CPA and a member of the MICPA, tells students about the shortage of CPAs in Michigan despite it offering varied opportunities and above-average pay.

Angel Stallings, the Detroit Piston’s CPA and a member of the MICPA, tells students about the shortage of CPAs in Michigan despite it offering varied opportunities and above-average pay.

Photo provided by Kate Winter

CPAs reaching out to students to address shortage in profession

‘What an accountant does today is not what people think of as accounting’

By: Brendan Losinski | Metro | Published December 7, 2022


METRO DETROIT — The Michigan Association of CPAs is calling all potential young accountants, CFOs and financial advisors.

The organization, commonly known as MICPA, is working to raise awareness of accounting career opportunities among high school students by sending its members into numerous Michigan schools to educate and share their personal journeys within the profession.

“What the MICPA is doing is to raise awareness of what the certified public accountant profession is. When we go into schools, students often don’t even know what a CPA is. We want to make them aware of the possibilities,” explained Matthew Kidd, one of the MICPA members working in the schools. “Either MICPA develops relationships with the high school educators and they arrange for the speakers to come in, or the CPAs directly speak with local high schools and they arrange for a speaker to come in. … It’s generally the CPA going classroom to classroom, focusing on business or accounting classes.”

Kidd said MICPA is going to these lengths due to a growing need for CPAs despite the fact that it can be a very lucrative and rewarding career.

“There is a macro trend of a declining number of CPAs in the profession,” he said. “It creates an issue that many people don’t recognize. Small school districts need to have audits performed, for instance, and small districts in the Upper Peninsula can’t find anyone to do it for them, regardless of cost. On the personal side of things, there are few careers that have as much upward mobility as the CPA profession.”

“We have 1,000 fewer CPAs in Michigan than two years ago. In that time, we had 1,320 newly licensed CPAs,” added Michelle Randall, the board chair of the MICPA and a professor at Schoolcraft College. “We had 2,400 retire from the profession in that timeframe as well, so we are losing people and replacing only half of the CPAs we’re losing.”

Not only is the pool of CPAs declining in Michigan, but recent trends have shown the need for them rising.

“The demand within the CPA profession is also increasing,” continued Randall. “A CPA is a trusted advisor, skilled professionals in making any type of measurements, and able to help navigate government compliance and the tax system. The demands for that skill set are increasing.”

She said the reasons behind this shortage are varied, and COVID-19 only made the current career landscape more tenuous.

“There’s a couple of issues. We’ve been watching the demographic shifts. We’re not the only profession to be suffering from a talent shortage. COVID accelerated the problem,” Randall said. “What an accountant does today is not what people think of as accounting. We want to go out and share the opportunities that are available to young people.”

Kidd said one of the key points he tries to impart to students is the variety of career opportunities being a CPA can lead to.

“In the CPA profession you can build whatever life you want. If you want to build a balanced life, that is something you can do. If you want to earn a lot of money, that also is something you can do. You can get a look at just about every type of industry. You can learn about opportunities as you go,” he said. “A CPA also can be a trusted advisor. It’s not about sitting around a desk all day. You can be talking with clients and advising them. … The CFO of the Red WIngs and the head of Emagine Entertainment are CPAs. In the actual accounting world, there’s a lot of variety. It ranges from huge corporations to small businesses.”

“I’m passionate about it, since I am a college educator,” added Randall. “I have been in accounting education for 22 years. I got involved in this profession so I could be a link between young people and a profession that can support them and is dynamic and is constantly challenging them.”

Randall also said they are trying to encourage more diversity in the profession by reaching out to schools and communities where CPA programs haven’t had a strong presence in the past.

“We also want to attract people into the profession to look like the people in the community they serve,” she said. “In addition to going out to students at lage, we are intentionally going into underrepresented communities to discuss the benefits of going into this type of career.”

Those who may want to consider the CPA field as a possible career path can go to MICPA’s website,, to learn more. The website also offers free student membership and provides resources that those interested in the topic can check out.

Randall said that between the efforts of the MICPA and other steps taken at the state and federal level, hopefully the CPA shortage will be rectified.

“The (financial literacy curriculum) was begun earlier this year, which is a program approved by the governor, so there is now a (financial literacy curriculum) devoted toward educating the general public about their finances,” she said. “Educating young people is a big part of that. High school students will now have to take a semester — a half a credit — or the equivalent of a semester of financial literacy classes.”