Aquinas Offers Upskilling Opportunity for Non-CPA Professionals Working in Accounting & Auditing Firms



The 2019 AICPA Trends Report, which tracks trends in accounting education, including the CPA exam as well as recent graduate hiring data, revealed that of all new hires made by accounting firms, as many as 31% were non-accounting graduates. At the time, this represented an increase in these types of hires by 11% between 2016-2018. More recently, in the 2021 AICPA Trends Report, the percentage of non-accounting new hires is still right around a third. David G. Echelbarger, CPA, CGMA, and President of Echelbarger, Himebaugh, Tamm & Co., P.C., summed up this shift in talent acquisition. “Many of these professionals are working with accounting and auditing teams implementing technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, and data analysis.”

While non-accounting professionals are undoubtedly a value-add in these areas, having accounting knowledge is certainly a benefit when applying their skills to the accounting field. The Accounting and Auditing Certification Program (AACP), offered through the Accounting Department at Aquinas College, is designed to provide training to non-CPA professionals in a range of financial topics including financial accounting, accounting systems and auditing.

The goal of the program is to improve the efficacy of audit teams within the public accounting space, but time to join the next cohort from day one, on Sept. 8, is running short. “The Accounting Department at Aquinas College is in a unique position to offer a certification program for these professionals to be more effective in a short period of time,” says Echelbarger.

Indeed, Dana, a participant in the 2021 Fall cohort added, “The once-a-week virtual session worked well for a busy professional like me. I’m using the program concepts and processes almost daily in my job to better work with our company’s Controller and CFO.”

Former program participants also speak highly of the educators within the Aquinas Accounting Department. “Professors Anthony Burdick and Kevin Cantley bring valuable academic and professional experience to the classroom,” says former student Ricard (Rico) Marin, EY Chicago – Assurance Services. “Their instruction gave me a strong foundation in accounting and auditing principles … I'm confident in this faculty's ability to help anyone looking to take the plunge into the auditing world.”

Assistant Professor of Accounting at Aquinas, Brad Keuning, also discussed what makes the program unique in a recent interview on WGVU. “There are other accounting certificate programs out there, but they’re really focused on just how to do accounting. Ours is much broader than that. It includes IT, risks, controls and ultimately how you address all of that through the audit process. So, we think the curriculum really sets us apart.”

For those interested in deepening their understanding of public accounting or employers seeking a means by which to upskill their non-CPA staff, there is still time to register for the 2022-23 AACP at Aquinas College. The 10-week program begins on Sept. 8, 2022, runs for 10 weeks, and is offered in a virtual format so that classes can be taken from anywhere.

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