Amy R. Wolf

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Matuszewski, Linda

Degree Name

B.S. (Bachelor of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Accountancy


Accounting is one of the hottest careers with many job options available to accounting graduates. Most people believe all accountants are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and work for public accounting firms; however, many work as industry accountants. Despite this fact, today's educational programs often focus on preparing students for public accounting careers. Through the primary research of this study, the Accountant Career Path Survey, 31 industry accountants reported their career paths and rated how well their education helped them develop a variety of skills. The respondents also rated the importance of these skills to their success in the jobs they have held since graduating. Of those surveyed, only two people started their careers in public accounting firms, which contradicts the common assumption that most accountants start in public and later move to industry. Surprisingly, 15 of these respondents obtained their CPA, despite the fact that this certification is focused on public accounting content. Finally, the results show that many accounting programs focus on skills that are not important to industry accountants' job success. These results should help students better understand alternative career paths and aid educators in improving the relevance of curricula for a broader range of students.


49 pages




Northern Illinois University

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