By Rodger J. Krause, CPA
Many still-vibrant CPAs begin to contemplate retirement in their mid-50s. Perhaps the high stress of busy season has begun to wear down the most seasoned CPA, or they work at a Big 4 firm that encourages partners to retire at 55. What should a CPA do who wants to remain active in the profession? Have you considered teaching?
This blog includes some things you might care to know if the idea intrigues you. As a 30-plus year member of the PICPA who has taught accounting, full-time and part-time, over almost the same number of years, I am speaking from experience.
To get into academia, most schools require at least a master's degree. This has changed since I first started teaching. Some local community colleges may hire based on being a CPA and having experience in the field, but most college accounting departments today will want a degree beyond a bachelor's.
Starting as an adjunct faculty member is a way to gain teaching experience. You may have to teach nights, part-time, or when needed, but it's a good way to get a foot in the door at most universities. It also will help you decide if you're truly interested in a career as an instructor.
Keep in mind you will probably not become a full member of any college faculty, or tenured, without a doctoral degree, and most PhD programs take several years to complete. Getting into an accounting PhD program isn't necessarily difficult, but actually achieving a doctorate in accounting is, according to those with whom I have discussed this. College department heads who I have spoken with say accounting faculty with the CPA credential and a doctorate degree are in short supply. This is supported in a Dec. 1, 2015, article in Strategic Finance magazine, which noted an average age of accounting faculty in their 50s, with many retiring or soon to be retired. We might begin to see a change in this trend as more accounting program degrees are stressing the 150-hour graduation requirement.
Full-time faculty members oftentimes will be asked to participate in university service projects and clubs. Advising students, writing, getting published, and attending university functions are other parts of the job. Research can be part of the job requirement. But the most important thing that accounting faculty do is teach.
So, do you want to get rid of your business suits and a regimented schedule for a more casual dress code and the flexible schedule of academia? Would you like to share your business background with others? Want to reach out to up-and-coming young professionals? If yes, try to set up a meeting with a college business department chair. You might find the challenge of teaching to be a new and unexpected reward to cap your accounting career.
Rodger J. Krause, CPA, is owner and proprietor of Roger Krause CPA Inc. in Wyomissing, Pa., and a member of the Pennsylvania CPA Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.