Some accounting practitioners who have extensive industry experience desire to begin new careers in academia teaching accounting at the university level. This career switch is not necessarily an easy one for those who have not prepared themselves with the right academic and professional credentials. For example, a certified public accountant (CPA) license is always needed for public accountants and is usually highly desired for teaching jobs within academia. Also, many business professionals who perform as private accountants contribute greatly to corporate decision making, but they can typically have differing academic backgrounds. Specific degrees are needed to begin a career as a professor of accountancy. Here are some ways that experienced accountants can give back to their profession through teaching positions and the requirements for each of those teaching options.

Part Time Instructors and Adjunct Professors

Community colleges are sources for accountancy teaching jobs for business professionals who do not have advanced degrees in the subject. These instructors teach foundational principles of accountancy to students who are pursuing associate degrees or who are taking prerequisite course work in preparation for more challenging four year degree programs. These instructors usually hold classes two to three times a week, and many gain teaching experience while keeping their full time jobs as accountants. As a result, students benefit from teachers who have recent, practical industry knowledge. These part time instructors and adjunct professors usually have a business related undergraduate degree and professional credentials like a CPA license or a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation.

University Professor of Accountancy for Mid-Tier Schools

Many public accountants earn advanced degrees in their field so that they can meet the educational requirements to obtain their CPA licenses. Successful candidates can apply their professional knowledge, academic credentials and professional licenses to the academic setting when they compete for teaching jobs at mid-tier universities. These universities minimally require new faculty to have a professional certification and a master’s degree. Many times these universities will accept instructor candidates who have Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees in lieu of Master of Accountancy degrees when they also possess credentials like the CPA license.

University Professor of Accountancy for Top-Tier Schools

Accountants who want to become full time professors at top tier universities are usually required to have doctorate degrees in accountancy or in business administration in addition to professional certifications. These degree programs can take up to five years to complete, but many doctoral programs in accounting and business do not require that students have a master’s degree to gain admittance. Admissions into these programs are heavily dependent on graduate level aptitude test scores and undergraduate grade point averages.

Instructor for CPA Review and Other Certifications

Skilled accountants who have difficulty entering traditional teaching positions at community colleges and universities can still help future accountants attain their career goals. These business professionals can be instructors for classes that prepare aspiring accountants for their CPA exams or to meet requirements for their CMA credentials. Instructors can work for private learning centers that specialize in exam preparation, or they can offer their services to students as independent contractors. It is normally required that teachers have the certifications that are related to the review courses for which they plan to instruct.


According to higher education surveys, there is a surprisingly high shortage of qualified instructors of accountancy at junior colleges and universities. This situation has created many options for those who are willing to teach accounting part time or augment their professional experience with additional education.