AICPA Updates Core Competencies Framework for Aspiring CPAs

The American Institute of CPAs has released its Core Competencies Framework for Aspiring CPAs – a resource to help students acquire the knowledge and develop the talents that will lead them to success in the accounting profession.

Accounting educators and professionals have developed the framework to define the competency-based competencies that students need as they enter the profession. These skills are relevant regardless of a student’s career path (public, industry, government, or nonprofit) or the specific accounting services they provide.

Due to the rapid evolution of the accounting profession, the framework focuses on core competencies rather than traditional content areas or accounting services. Although knowledge requirements change over time, these foundational skills have long-term value and support a variety of career opportunities for future CPAs.

The framework categorized these skills into three domains: technical, organizational and leadership.

  • Hard skills are specific to the accounting profession and add value to business and contribute to a successful society.
  • Organizational skills are broad, interdisciplinary integrative skills that relate to the environment in which professional accountants work.
  • Leadership skills are skills, attitudes and behaviors necessary for accounting professionals.

“The framework is flexible for a variety of school environments and missions,” said Jan Taylor, CPA, CGMA, Ph.D., Scholar-in-Residence, Academics, and Student Engagement at AICPA. “It can benefit programs in many ways beyond its primary focus of course development and review. For example, accounting programs may also use the framework in their learning assurance assessments for accreditation purposes.

This document is an update of the former AICPA Pre-Certification Core Competency Framework. It was developed by a diverse working group of staff, educators, and practicing professionals from the AICPA and the American Accounting Association over the past year. It then went through a thorough review process with other professionals.

“The AICPA Core Competency Framework for Aspiring CPAs is my benchmark when developing accounting course outcomes,” said task force co-chair Dr. Sharon L. Levin, CPA, CFE, Professor accounting graduate from the University of Maryland Global Campus. “Students considering taking the CPA exam can use this resource as a checklist throughout their college program. Its one-page format is ideal for students to remember.

“Furthermore, sharing the framework with advisory boards and practitioners can help bridge the perceived gap between education and practice,” said Pat Johnson, CPA, co-chair of the task force.

A second working group is being formed to make an electronic version of the document with additional resources. If you are interested in participating in this group, please complete this survey.

Educators can also send comments or questions about the framework to

The Core Competencies Framework for Aspiring CPAs is one of many resources available for accounting educators at the AICPA Academic Resource Center.

Comments are closed.