You already know that becoming a CPA is a great idea, and the AICPA just published more proof of your wise decision. In the 2015 Trends in Supply of Accounting Graduates and Demand for Public Accounting Recruits, AICPA asked firms and universities about their hiring outlook and educational stats. Here’s what you need to know to be up with the trends.

The latest trends

With more than 43,000 new hires in 2014, demand for new accounting grads has bounced back from the economic recession and is the highest it’s ever been. Demand for master’s graduates has increased by 11% in the last two years (from 16,557 to 18,321 hires), while demand for graduates with a bachelor’s degree is slightly lower, but still growing with a 5% increase (from 23,793 to 24,931).

And this trend isn’t going anywhere any time soon. According to the survey, 91% of firms plan to hire at the same or higher numbers throughout 2015, including 100% of firms with more than 200 employees.

It’s a good thing that hiring is picking up because the word is getting out that accounting is an amazing profession. New master’s degree accounting graduates increased 31%, while bachelor's degree grads decreased 11% between 2011-12 and 2013-14 school years.

Total accounting enrollment is up, too. The growth is almost entirely at the master’s level with a 19% increase over the last two years. Enrollment in bachelor’s and Ph.D. programs increased slightly – 3% and 1% respectively.

Getting ahead of the trends

Now, let’s be honest. You’d probably rather be the one setting the trends than the one following them, right? Here’s how to get one step ahead.

Go for your master’s. Demand for master’s graduates is increasing faster than enrollment, and you’ve got a wide variety of options for your advanced degree. Masters of Accounting graduates make up 88% of all accounting master’s graduates, while MBA in Accounting grads make up 7%. Masters of Taxation fills up the other 5% of accounting master’s students.

You should also know that audit and tax aren’t the only specialty choices for your first job. Sure, 47% of grads start in audit and 27% start in tax, but the other 26% start in information systems, forensic accounting, advisory services, or other specialties.

For more exciting information about this year’s trends in the accounting industry, including demographics and regional breakdowns, check out the whole report. And sound off with your thoughts in the comments.

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