American Journal of Economics and Business Administration

Practitioner and Faculty Perspectives on the Career Preparation Of Entry-Level Public Accountants

Kathryn Simms and Enrique Zapatero

DOI : 10.3844/ajebasp.2012.144.154

American Journal of Economics and Business Administration

Volume 4, Issue 2

Pages 144-154


Entry-level public accountants in the U.S. must satisfy a litany of historically unparalleled requirements and demands. This unique set of challenges calls forth new questions about how effectively entry-level accountants are navigating the divide between their conceptual educations and the practical rigors of public practice. To examine these questions, we relied on qualitative analysis predicated on a theoretical framework of constructivism and systems theory. Our study confirmed practitioners’ perceptions about the preparation of entry-level accountants that have been documented for nearly a hundred years: Entry-level accountants’ shortcomings often include written and oral communications skills, interpersonal skills and critical thinking skills. However, what is unique to this study is that we also considered faculty perspectives. Faculty concurred with practitioners’ perspectives on entry-level accountants’ strengths and weaknesses-noting considerable growth in most problem areas over the college years. Practitioners and faculty also largely agreed about the pathway to successful and unsuccessful careers in public accounting. We suggest that continuing the historical perspective of extreme separation between academia and the business world is not particularly beneficial to the career preparation of junior accountants. Rather, we recommend that viewing accounting faculty and practitioners as part of the same continuum is likely to be more advantageous to the preparation of entry-level accountants and to the profession as a whole. We also conclude that differences in faculty and practitioner perspectives serve as checks and balances on the accounting profession-although more collaboration might facilitate greater improvements.


© 2012 Kathryn Simms and Enrique Zapatero. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.