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Taking a Fast Track to a Hot Career in Numbers

Tuesday, May. 17, 2011
Prof. Michael Eames
Prof. Michael Eames

For the past 11 years, SCU’s Executive Development Center has been helping hundreds of adults switch careers from finance, technology, teaching -- even football coaching -- to become Certified Public Accountants.

The program is called the Certificate in Advanced Accounting Proficiency, or CAAP.  It’s basically a fast-track program to enable non-accountants to become licensed CPAs. The summer program runs four hours a day, five days a week, for 14 weeks.  The weekend program entails an 8 hour class every weekend for nine months.  Both programs provide the academic accounting credits necessary to become a CPA.  

Many of the students who attend CAAP are a few years out of college and come to it after pursuing business or tech careers. Others are directly from an undergraduate program.   CAAP also has had its share of liberal arts majors and experienced workers who just decided that a solid career like accounting is attractive.  One student was a former NFL coach; another majored in the classics.

“This program offers an opportunity for anyone with an undergraduate degree to get all the accounting units they need to become a CPA,” said Santa Clara University accounting professor Michael Eames, the lead faculty member for the program.

Some students enter the program to enhance their skills at their current job.  Others find employment with the accounting firms in tax and audit.  Still others are employed by corporations, state or federal governments, or nonprofits.

Currently, to obtain a CPA a candidate must have a bachelor’s degree, accounting units (the CAAP program provides the full complement), and units in business or business related courses (e.g., math and computer science are considered business related subjects).  Starting in 2014 there will be extra accounting, business, and ethics requirements to become a CPA.  The CAAP system already has adjusted to this new law and provides for the extra required accounting units. 

Financial aid assistance is available for many who pursue the program.

Eames and his wife both got into the accounting profession through a similar program at the University of Washington.  Eames -- who was a fish biologist before getting his accounting PhD and joining SCU in 1996 -- got the EDC’s program underway 11 years ago, with a starting class of 18 students. Now eight accounting faculty members help teach a total of about 160 students a year.

“There has been no shortage of demand,” said Eames. “People know that accounting continues to be a hot job market.”

More on the CAAP program can be found at
May 17, 2011

Tags: accounting, Leavey School of Business

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