Accounting Resources and Organizations for Underrepresented Racial Groups


Updated September 27, 2022

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Accountants work with individual and organizational clients to file taxes, reduce costs, and ensure their financial documents' accuracy. Career options for accounting professionals include forensic accounting, public accounting, government accounting, and auditing.

People of color who aspire to work as accountants face ongoing disparities and challenges in their career pursuits. Though the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) reports that people of color represent nearly half of accounting program graduates, hiring and advancement rates fail to correlate.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accountants earned a median salary of $73,560 nationwide as of 2020. The BLS also projects a 7% growth in accounting jobs from 2020 to 2030, on pace with the national average growth rate for all professions.

People of color who aspire to work as accountants face ongoing disparities and challenges in their career pursuits. Though the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) reports that people of color represent nearly half of accounting program graduates, hiring and advancement rates fail to correlate.

On this page, readers can learn more about the challenges facing people of color in the field of accounting, along with potential solutions to close those gaps. The following sections include scholarships for accountants of color and accounting organizations dedicated to improving inclusion in the field.

Challenges and Opportunities for Accountants of Color

Members of historically excluded racial groups have faced major hurdles in navigating the accounting field. While the profession strives for continued improvements and increased opportunities for people of color, challenges still persist.

The Journal of Accountancy reports that before 1969 a mere 0.15% of certified public accountants (CPAs) in the United States were Black. Because CPA licensing requirements include accounting work experience, employer racism often prevented people of color from obtaining these positions.

In 1968, the AICPA formed the Committee on Recruitment From Minority Groups. Based on the findings from this committee, the AICPA created a new resolution in 1969 to encourage people of color to pursue accounting careers. The institute also provided educational opportunities and promoted the hiring of accountants from underrepresented racial groups.

The Journal of Accountancy reports that before 1969 a mere 0.15% of certified public accountants (CPAs) in the United States were Black.

The AICPA resolution picked up speed as government bodies and accounting societies added scholarship opportunities for historically excluded students. Accounting firms, meanwhile, increased the hiring of Black, Latino/a, and Asian accounting professionals.

Today, many initiatives exist to support accountants from underrepresented racial groups. According to the Journal of Accountancy, 67% of Black accountants reported benefiting from some career mentoring in 2017, up from 52% in 2006.

The AICPA reported upward trends in bachelor's-level enrollees among Latino/a students, who composed 15% of enrollments in 2017-18, compared to 6% in 2006-07. Asian and Pacific Islander students represented 11% of 2017-18 enrollments, up from 8% in 2006-07.

According to AICPA survey data, Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Black, Latino/a, and multiracial students made up 44% of all bachelor's-level accounting graduates and 42% of bachelor's plus master's-level accounting graduates in 2018.

Among the bachelor's and master's accounting graduates, the AICPA reported 0.3% Native American, 6% Black or African American, 13% Asian or Pacific Islander, 16% Latino/a, and 2% multiracial graduates. In 2018, accounting employers hired accountants of color at a rate of 30%, making up 29% of professional staff.

Despite some encouraging factors, workplace challenges persist for people of color in accounting. After the professional staff level, the AICPA reports a significant dropoff in the hiring or promotion of accountants from underrepresented racial groups. In 2018, only 16% gained employment as CPAs, and only 9% took on roles as partners. The disparity is particularly stark for Black accountants. According to the Journal of Accountancy, just 0.3% of Black accountants were brought on as partners in 2017.

Despite some encouraging factors, workplace challenges persist for people of color in accounting. After the professional staff level, the AICPA reports a significant dropoff in the hiring or promotion of accountants from underrepresented racial groups. In 2018, only 16% gained employment as CPAs, and only 9% took on roles as partners.

As the accounting profession faces continued challenges in inclusion, the Journal of Accountancy recommends several pathways to increase opportunities for employees of color. It suggests providing access to informal gatherings, often particularly denied to Black employees; training staff to overcome unconscious biases; and ensuring that all accounting professionals receive opportunities to take on important assignments.

The National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) also emphasizes the importance of promoting people of color to leadership positions. Retaining accountants may become increasingly difficult when new hires see so few top executives representing their demographics.

Professional Spotlight: Ronnie Goode, Dr. Maria Sanchez, and Casey Watson

Professional Spotlight: Ronnie Goode

Portrait of Ronnie Goode

Ronnie Goode

Ronnie Goode is a CPA licensed in the state of Virginia. He currently works as a systems accountant with the Defense Logistics Agency, where he provides internal audit services. He also owns and operates an accounting business, where he provides accounting, tax, and consulting services to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Ronnie began his accounting career at a public accounting firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, where he spent five years providing audit and accounting advisory services. He ultimately left public accounting to work in corporate America at Altria Group for the next five years, serving as a financial analyst and an accountant.

Ronnie attended Shaw University, where he received his undergraduate accounting degree on a music scholarship. He also attended Southern Illinois University–Carbondale, where he received an MBA on an academic scholarship. Ronnie believes the key to success is building strong relationships. When he's not working on his side business, he enjoys playing sports, listening to music, traveling, and hiking.

Why did you decide to become an accountant?

I decided to become an accountant in college after having countless discussions with my professor. I was initially undecided of my career path, but was later sold on the benefits of a career in accounting.

What was the deciding factor in selecting your specific program and specific school?

My decision to attend the undergraduate and graduate programs that I chose were mainly influenced by affordability. Receiving a scholarship in music for my undergraduate program and an academic scholarship for my graduate program made my school choices clear.

Did your school's approach to diversity have any bearing on your decision?

My school's approach to diversity had a huge bearing on my decision. My undergraduate school was a historically Black college and university, and the culture at the school was a huge selling point for me. As for my graduate program, diversity did not have any bearing on my decision.

Were there any challenges you faced during your accounting education as a result of your race?

Due to the fact that I attended an HBCU for my accounting degree, there were no challenges that I faced due to race. On the other hand, I did face challenges in graduate school that involved overcoming assumptions and stereotypes about me due to my race.

Were there any available resources for racially underrepresented students in your program — whether accounting-focused or general — that you found helpful? What about general educational resources?

There were general resources available to minority students at my graduate school that were helpful to me. The most helpful resource was having a network of minority professors, staff, and students that supported me in dealing with race-related challenges.

Any CPA exam tips you'd like to share?

As an overall tip, I would say that you should view the CPA exam as a marathon. The sheer volume of information may initially seem overwhelming, but if you break it into smaller, more manageable pieces, you will eventually get through it. Aside from the actual exam content, your level of discipline and ability to manage your time and schedule is extremely important in being successful. I would also add to do your due diligence in choosing the most effective exam preparation course, and be persistent in the pursuit of your goal.

What was your job search like?

My job search as an accountant has always been successful and offered many opportunities in the field. I received my first job offer in the accounting field while interning at a public accounting firm. I received that internship while in college by utilizing the career services department. I would highly recommend that students take advantage of those career resources in college. Companies target and recruit students who are majoring in accounting.

Have you encountered any race-related hurdles during your career as an accountant? How did you overcome them?

I've encountered a number of race-related hurdles during my career as an accountant. Most of the hurdles I've encountered came from working in corporate America. Working in an environment where there are not many people that represent your culture can be challenging if the environment doesn't promote diversity and inclusion. I overcame some of those hurdles by building and strengthening relationships with individuals that had similar experiences and were successful in conquering those challenges.

Are you a member of any professional organizations? What do you find most valuable about them?

I'm currently a member of the National Association of Black Accountants. I find this organization to be valuable because it connects you with other accountants across the world. This allows you to network, receive training, share knowledge and experiences about working at different companies.

What advice would you give to students of color considering pursuing a career in accounting?

I would recommend students of color to pursue a career in accounting as it can be very rewarding and provide job security. I would tell any student to approach an accounting career with an open mind because there are many career paths within the industry.

Professional Spotlight: Dr. Maria Sanchez

Portrait of Dr. Maria Sanchez

Dr. Maria Sanchez

Dr. Maria Sanchez is a professor of accounting at Rider University.

Why did you decide to pursue accounting?

I decided to pursue accounting because it is the language of business. With an accounting background, you can go anywhere. The professional opportunities available to accountants are limitless.

What was the deciding factor in selecting your specific program and specific school for your education? Why did you choose to teach at your current university?

For my undergraduate education, I chose a program that would position me for a job at a "Big 4" accounting firm. I knew that I wanted to go into audit and earn my CPA credential. However, I knew that after a few years of professional experience, I eventually wanted to pursue a career as a professor of accountancy.

It was an easy decision to accept a position at Rider University. Rider's focus on students is exactly the type of university that I was looking for. In my role as an accounting professor at Rider, I get to help students prepare for their careers and for the CPA exam. In addition, our master of accountancy program is ideal to help experienced professionals change career paths or prepare for the CPA exam. The best part of the job is seeing my students succeed.

Were there any available resources for underrepresented students in your program that you found helpful? What about resources for your current students?

At Rider, we have a program called the Aspiring Accounting Professional Program, which combines tutoring and practical experience through an informal professional mentorship specifically to help underrepresented minority groups in the accounting field. This innovative program was created by Dr. Evelyn McDowell, chair of the accounting department at Rider, and Allen Boston, an executive advisory committee member and retired Ernst & Young partner.

Any CPA exam tips you'd like to share?

Don't wait to start studying! With the new continuous testing model, there is no excuse. Take one part of the exam as soon as you are eligible to sit. Then take the next, and so on.

Are you a member of any professional organizations? What do you find most valuable about them?

I am a member of the AICPA, the American Accounting Association, and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. The field of accounting is constantly changing. These organizations help keep me up-to-date with what is happening in the profession.

What advice would you give to students of color considering pursuing a career in accounting?

Build your professional network. Attend networking events — your university probably has several networking opportunities during a normal semester. You never know when one of these contacts will lead to a professional opportunity. Find a mentor to help guide you. Having someone you trust to help you navigate the professional workplace can help you advance in your career.

Professional Spotlight: Casey Watson

Portrait of Casey Watson

Casey Watson

Casey Watson has over 20 years of experience in various accounting fields, including internal and external audit, individual and corporate taxes, corporate and forensic accounting, and federal practice and risk and compliance. She has worked for two of the "Big 4" CPA firms, for smaller CPA firms, and in industry.

The most memorable company she worked for was National Geographic, and her most impactful engagement was working on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, processing insurance claims related to the BP oil spill in April 2010.

In her spare time, Casey enjoys international travels. She has travelled to 19 countries and lived in two foreign countries. She has also played the drums for 36 years and loves salsa and belly dancing, along with rock climbing. She currently resides in the DC metro area and works for a national consulting company.

Why did you decide to become an accountant?

When I was in 10th grade, I was registering for classes in Florida. One of the electives I chose was to take an accounting class, because I liked math and thought it would be a class I would enjoy. Also, I knew I wanted to live in other countries throughout my life and quickly realized that you can get a job anywhere in the world with an accounting degree.

What was the deciding factor in selecting your specific program and specific school?

As stated above, I wanted to have a career that would enable me to live in other countries, and I knew that almost all universities offered accounting programs in their business schools. When I was searching for universities to attend with a specialization in accounting, I quickly learned that in 1992, students from the University of Central Florida (UCF) had more CPA candidates sit and pass the exam on the first try than any other university in the country. (Back in the 1990s, you were required to sit for all four sections of the CPA exam at any given attempt to pass the exam.)

Did your school's approach to diversity have any bearing on your decision?

In the early '90s, this was not a consideration when I was selecting a university.

Were there any challenges you faced during your accounting education as a result of your race?

Being an Asian American, I faced certain stereotypes related to my race that included me studying all the time in the library. Also, sometimes other classmates would ask me to tutor them on subject matters that we were both learning at the same. (They assumed I would understand the content much faster than them and could explain it to them.) One of my more infuriating experiences was when I had to defend my last name. I was adopted by a [white family] and have an Americanized name. My tax professor insisted that my last name was "Wong" and not "Watson." We had this discussion in front of the entire class, which was humiliating.

Were there any available resources for underrepresented students in your program — whether accounting-focused or general — that you found helpful? What about general educational resources?

I am not aware of any resources available for minority students in my program at the time.

Any CPA exam tips you'd like to share?

I would recommend taking the Becker CPA prep class… and get your employer to compensate you for it! Study every day, and complete all of the homework for each unit (if you take the Becker CPA prep class). Also, I would take the shortest section (business environment and concepts) of the exam first, and then take the longest section (financial reporting) last.

What was your job search like?

Shortly after I graduated in 1997, I packed all of my belongings and my dog, and moved to Redmond, Washington. I found an apartment and then began to search for a job. I searched newspaper ads for job listings in accounting and mailed off as many resumes as possible. I faxed my resume to a few companies as well. (I had an email account issued from my university, but I did not know how to use it, which is why I never emailed about job listings.) I secured a job within three weeks of moving to Redmond.

Have you encountered any race-related hurdles during your career as an accountant? How did you overcome them?

I have had my share of insulting comments said to me. For instance, at one CPA firm I worked at in 2000, a colleague continued to tell me that I spoke English "good." I corrected her and said, "I speak English 'well,'" and repeatedly told her that English was my first language. Another colleague in the same firm one time said to me, “I ate Chinese food last night and I thought about you.” So I told her that I ate a bunch of junk at McDonald's the same night and I thought of her. She didn't quite understand why I said that. Also, I am not Chinese.

Another colleague asked me to help her rearrange her heavy oak office furniture to make her office more 'feng shui' appealing. Again, I am not Chinese. Fortunately, with regard to not getting promoted or selected for certain projects with high exposure to clients, I have not experienced this living in the DC metro area, which is a minority-majority area.

Are you a member of any professional organizations? What do you find most valuable about them?

I am a member of the AICPA. They have great resources for CPAs about specific industries and lines of service, such as forensics and nonprofit organizations, that help you stay abreast of the latest information impacting each industry.

What advice would you give to students of color considering pursuing a career in accounting?

I would join an organization that supports your professional career from a minority perspective, such as Association of Latino Professionals For America, National Association of Black Accountants, and Ascend Pan-Asian Leaders. These organizations provide a variety of resources and support around the country for minority accounting professionals.

Also, I would recommend seeking a mentor that you align with and be proactive in meeting with [they/them] on a regular basis to seek information and/or assistance with any issues you may have. Further, I would become as active as possible within your company's own alliance teams (if applicable) and have an active role within these teams. (All of the "Big 4" accounting firms have these types of alliance teams.)

Last but not least, seek a paid internship with a few "Big 4" accounting firms to get a feel for the culture of each firm. The work is similar and will translate easily to each firm, but the corporate culture is what will impact your decision (and theirs) when deciding upon a firm. I worked at two of the four "Big 4" accounting firms and while the work I performed at each was slightly different, the corporate cultures were drastically different.

Scholarships for Aspiring Accountants of Color

Higher education requires a significant financial investment, but scholarships provide excellent opportunities for students to fund their college studies. Learners can find scholarships through local organizations, government offices, or professional associations, and some scholarships exist particularly for students from marginalized groups.

To research applicable scholarships, readers can explore the information presented in the links below. The following list also offers a sampling of scholarship opportunities for underrepresented students.

Accenture American Indian Scholarship Fund

  • Who Can Apply: Members of federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaskan Native groups can apply. Eligible undergraduate majors include finance, marketing, and business-related fields, plus computer science and engineering. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.25 GPA.
  • Amount: Not specified
  • The American Indian Graduate Center works with Accenture to oversee the award process. The application favors students who demonstrate leadership, motivation, and a strong dedication to the American Indian community.
  • Apply

AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students

  • Who Can Apply: Full-time students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate accounting programs can apply for this award if they belong to underrepresented ethnic or racial groups. Applicants must hold citizenship or permanent residency, AICPA membership, and a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Amount: $3,000-$5,000
  • Funded by the AICPA Foundation, with assistance from regional chapters, the scholarship requires applicants to demonstrate some financial need and present plans to obtain CPA licensure.
  • Apply

Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Program

  • Who Can Apply: Undergraduate students of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage qualify to apply if they hold a minimum 2.7 GPA and demonstrate financial need.
  • Amount: $2,500-$20,000
  • Dedicated to supporting Asian and Pacific Islander students, the scholarship program offers a range of awards for students with financial need, community commitment, and strong academic records. Applicants must complete a FAFSA and submit a letter of recommendation.
  • Apply

Association of Latino Professionals For America Scholarship

  • Who Can Apply: Latino/a students enrolled in two-year, four-year, and graduate accounting, finance, business, and STEM programs can apply. The application requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, and students must hold ALPFA membership.
  • Amount: $1,250-$10,000
  • Applicants must submit a one-page essay describing why they deserve the scholarship. Financial need factors into the selection process.
  • Apply

Clay Ford Board of Accountancy Minority Scholarships

  • Who Can Apply: Florida residents who are African American, Latino/a, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native American, or women qualify to apply. Students must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA and be in their fifth year of accounting studies in a Florida-based school. They must also intend to sit for the CPA exam.
  • Amount: $3,000-$6,000
  • This scholarship is administered by the Florida Board of Accountancy. The application requires students to submit a FAFSA, transcripts, and a 500-word essay.
  • Apply

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

  • Who Can Apply: Open to high school seniors, undergraduate students, and graduate students with Hispanic heritage and U.S. citizenship, permanent residence, or DACA status, the award caters to students of all majors. High-school applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, and continuing college students must demonstrate a minimum 2.5 GPA.
  • Amount: $500-$5,000
  • Committed to supporting Hispanic students through scholarships and resources, including college preparation materials, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund mainly assists students who demonstrate financial need.
  • Apply

Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship

  • Who Can Apply: Graduating high school seniors who belong to underrepresented racial or ethnic groups and plan to attend four-year colleges may apply. Applicants must demonstrate community service and leadership. The application requires a minimum of 1,000 combined SAT score or 21 ACT score.
  • Amount: Up to $30,000
  • Dedicated to helping underrepresented students who demonstrate financial need and strong leadership potential, the award requires four essay questions, a headshot, and a letter of recommendation.
  • Apply

Matt Fong Asian Americans in Public Finance Scholarship

  • Who Can Apply: Undergraduate sophomores, juniors, and seniors in California with 50% or more Asian heritage may apply for this award. Qualifying majors include accounting, political science, and public policy. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Amount: $2,500
  • Administered by the Asian Pacific Fund, the selection process favors students with financial need and a strong history of community service.
  • Apply

Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship

  • Who Can Apply: Full- or part-time students in graduate or upper-level undergraduate government accounting, finance, political science, economics, or business administration programs. Applicants must belong to one of the following underrepresented groups: Black or African American, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander, or Latino/a.
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Administered by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, the application requires students to articulate their planned career in government finance.
  • Apply

Moss Adams Scholarship

  • Who Can Apply: Undergraduate women from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups or women reentering college after a hiatus qualify to apply. The award is available for accounting majors.
  • Amount: $1,000
  • The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting oversees this award. Applicants must demonstrate financial need, business aptitude, and solid career plans.
  • Apply

National Association of Black Accountants Scholarship Program

  • Who Can Apply: Black students who hold active NABA membership can apply. Full-time undergraduate or graduate students majoring in accounting, finance, or business qualify if they hold a minimum 3.3 overall GPA and 3.5 major GPA.
  • Amount: $1,000-$5,000
  • Dedicated to breaking down barriers facing Black accountants entering the field, NABA awards an average of 50 scholarships every year. Applicants must submit transcripts, plus a resume, an essay, a personal biography, and a headshot.
  • Apply

PSEG Foundation Scholarship

  • Who Can Apply: Black students in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York can apply for this award. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.75 GPA. Eligible majors include business-related subjects, finance, computer science, and engineering.
  • Amount: Up to $5,222
  • Administered by the United Negro College Fund and sponsored by the PSEG energy company in New Jersey, this award requires applications to demonstrate financial need and write a one-page essay.
  • Apply

The Association of Hispanic Professionals, Inc. Scholarship

  • Who Can Apply: High school seniors of Hispanic descent with a minimum B grade in a college-prep program may apply for this award.
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Applicants must demonstrate financial need, a commitment to community service, and acceptance to any college or university. The application also requires recommendation letters.
  • Apply

Upakar Scholarship

  • Who Can Apply: Indian American students who were born in India or have one parent who was born in India qualify for this award. Applicants must hold U.S. citizenship or permanent residency, plan to enroll full time in a two- or four-year undergraduate institution, demonstrate financial need, and hold a minimum 3.6 GPA.
  • Amount: $1,000-$8,000
  • The Upakar Indo-American Community Foundation sponsors this award for students across many areas of study. Students must submit essays as part of the application process.
  • Apply

Wells Fargo American Indian Scholarship Program

  • Who Can Apply: Enrolled members of federally recognized American Indian or Alaska Native tribes may apply for this graduate-level award. Alternatively, students can present proof of Native American ancestry through a tribal eligibility certificate. Eligible majors include accounting, finance, information technology, and human resources. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Amount: Varies
  • Administered by the American Indian Graduate Center, the award requires students to demonstrate financial need.
  • Apply

Accounting Groups and Organizations Supporting Diversity

Accountants from underrepresented racial groups still face obstacles as they pursue their professional goals. Potential solutions include mentorship, increased networking opportunities, and greater visibility in the accounting field.

Accounting organizations supporting diversity can provide some of these crucial solutions. Larger organizations often feature diversity and inclusion initiatives, committees, and scholarships. Some accounting organizations center their missions on supporting employees of color.

Through active participation in these professional associations, aspiring and practicing accountants can take advantage of networking opportunities, conferences, continuing education, and programs that promote diversity and inclusion.

The AAA's diversity section centers on community, diversity research, and faculty development. It features partnerships promoting increased diversity in accounting, plus strong support for these programs. Focused on the academic side of accounting, the AAA emphasizes field research. Its diversity section connects student and professional members, providing newsletters, regular meetings, research opportunities, and travel scholarships.

The AICPA's diversity and inclusion initiative serves accounting firms, students, practitioners, and educators. It features regular webcasts highlighting diversity and inclusion, plus an online mentoring program, newsletter, and archive of diversity-related resources. Members can participate in subset committees, including the LGBTQ Networking Group, the National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, and Women in the Profession.

IMA's Diversity and Inclusion Committee comprises wide-reaching initiatives serving accounting students and professionals. Students can access a leadership academy, an annual conference, and scholarships. Practicing professionals can use IMA's resources to improve diversity in their workplaces. The initiative provides a diversity toolkit, webinars, and a women's accounting leadership series. Members can also participate in partnerships with organizations like NABA.

Founded in 1909 and established in New York City, the NAACP promotes equality and the elimination of racial prejudice in the United States. Through legislative advocacy, public relations, and education on constitutional rights, the organization works against the injustices Black people face on a daily basis. The NAACP runs volunteer teams for civic engagement, empowerment programs for advocacy training, plus in-person and online events. It also offers abundant resources like paycheck protection, news updates, and an annual convention.

Established in 1969, the NEA supports people of color in the economics field. Members stay connected through newsletters and periodical publications. They can also access job boards and take advantage of networking opportunities through regular conferences and events. The NEA offers grants and scholarships for students, including post-doctoral fellowships, pre-doctoral fellowships and internships, and dissertation grants. The organization also grants periodic professional awards to outstanding Black economists.

Resources for Black Accountants

With inclusion for Black accountants stagnating at management levels, the field must go a long way to create sufficient opportunities. According to an AICPA study, 84% of professional accounting staff were white as of 2018, as were 91% of partners in accounting firms. Black accountants, meanwhile, made up only 4% of professional staff and 1% of partners.

The Journal of Accountancy reported that while mentorships help make progress for Black accountants in the workplace, 54% of Black accountants felt unwelcome in informal social networks at work as of 2017. Some professional organizations, like those below, partner with firms and leaders in the field to help Black accountants with demographic-specific challenges.

Formed with the specific needs of African Americans in mind, the AAFA works to expand roles for Black financial professionals through community, stewardship, and advancement. Members gain access to networking resources like peer dialogues, regional events, an active online community, and an annual conference. Working to connect students and professors with in-practice accountants, the association also offers a job board, regular webinars, industry news, and scholarship opportunities.

Founded in 1969 to address the startlingly low number of Black CPAs in America, NABA operates under a mission of continuing education, support for Black students, and civic responsibility. Members may join as students or professionals to access student and regional chapters, scholarship opportunities, leadership training, and conferences. The NABA website also offers a searchable job board.

Formed in 1969, NAFEO is dedicated to supporting Black professionals in higher education, including presidents and chancellors at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other predominantly Black institutions (PBIs). Members join on an institutional level to participate in continuing education and advocacy, striving for a unified voice among HBCUs and PBIs. NAFEO supports HBCU students through grants, employment listings, and internship opportunities. The website also includes news updates and advocacy resources.

Founded in New York City in 1910, the Urban League works to claim civil rights for African Americans and members of other underrepresented groups. Its affiliate organizations address issues such as education, housing, and quality of life, offering college preparatory classes, mentorships, workforce skills development, nutrition education, and health screenings. The website offers information on news and events, voting and civic engagement, and legislative advocacy.

The UNCF was founded in 1944 with a mission to ensure equal access to education. The organization focuses on increasing the numbers of Black college graduates through support structures for students and institutions. The UNCF awards more than 10,000 scholarships annually and provides financial support for HBCUs. It engages in legislative advocacy, holds regular events, and partners with organizations to build awareness.

Resources for Hispanic and Latino/a Accountants

According to the AICPA trends report, Latino/a and Hispanic students made up 15% of BA accounting graduates in 2018 and 16% of BA-plus-MA graduates. In fact, Latino/a and Hispanic enrollees made up the largest percentage of graduating students of color in both categories. According to the same report, they comprised 10% of new hires, with the percentages quickly falling to 6% for professional staff, 4% for CPAs, and only 2% for partner-level positions.

Latino/a and Hispanic accounting professionals clearly face obstacles when seeking jobs, particularly promotions. These professionals can benefit from participating in professional associations aiming to help Latino/a and Hispanic accountants overcome barriers so they can excel in the field.

Founded in 1972 in Los Angeles, the ALPFA serves Latino/a students and professionals through networking and events. The organization's paid internship program connects aspiring professionals with 50,000 internship opportunities with partnering Fortune 1000 companies. Professional members can participate in local chapters and events. They also gain access to online job boards. Student members can choose a free basic membership for the same benefits, or they can pay for a premium membership to access scholarship opportunities and case study competitions with some of the "Big 4" accounting firms.

Based in Central Texas, the HSC serves Hispanic students in the state through renewable scholarship opportunities, mentoring, workshops, peer networking, and elite leadership training. Dedicated to supporting Hispanic students beyond financial aid, the HSC maintains regular communication with its scholars. Application requirements include Hispanic heritage, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and Texas residence. Applicants need not hold U.S. citizenship.

Founded in 1976, the LBA serves a membership of Latino/a business owners in California. With a mission to support members through advocacy, training, and resources, the LBA works in partnership with the LBA Institute, dedicated to education and research. LBA members can benefit from an exclusive newsletter, networking events, workshops and seminars, and a referral network. The LBA also collaborates with community, corporate, city, and international partners.

A Hispanic civil rights organization founded in 1929, the LULAC works to improve the wellbeing of Latinos/as in the United States and Puerto Rico through political influence, education, and economic elevation. Serving 132,000 members across the country, LULAC offers programs like the National Youth Convention, scholarship opportunities, and technology education programs. Members receive regular newsletters, access local and national events, and can participate in community service and advocacy.

Based in Westchester County, New York, the Association of Hispanic Professionals, Inc. works to provide funding for Hispanic college students through scholarship opportunities. Hispanic students can apply to all 17 of the organization's scholarships through a single application, checking off those which apply to their specific situation. Available awards include the Association of Hispanic Professionals, Inc. Scholarship, the Diaz Family Scholarship, and the Piñata Scholarship for students of Mexican descent.

Resources for Asian American and Pacific Islander Accountants

While Asian American and Pacific Islander accountants represent 14% of new hires in accounting and 17% of professional staff, upper-level titles drop quickly out of reach (only 4% of partners in accounting firms). The accounting field must make strides in elevating Asian and Pacific Islander employees to higher positions.

Asian American and Pacific Islander students and professionals can join excellent accounting organizations to help reach their career goals. Corporate partners, too, can take advantage of the educational opportunities these organizations offer, including internship programs, mentoring, and monetary assistance.

Founded in 2005, Ascend serves the Pan-Asian business community in North America through networking, student assistance, and corporate partnerships emphasizing workplace inclusion and diversity. The membership mainly consists of professionals in accounting, finance, technology, engineering, and professional services. Member benefits, available at various levels, include executive networking opportunities, professional mentorship, conventions, and career fairs. Corporate partners can work with Ascend to institute diversity initiatives and participate in educational programs.

With head offices in Malaysia, FourA serves academic accounting organizations in Asia. The organization works to connect organizations throughout the world, furthering missions related to accounting education, research, and practice. FourA mainly provides this support through its annual conference, where academics present findings in areas like accounting education, accounting information systems, corporate finance, forensic accounting, and taxation.

Based in California, the APCPAA works to connect Asian business communities, provide useful continuing education and networking opportunities, and advocate for member rights among legislative bodies. Members include CPAs, attorneys, bankers, realtors, and consultants. The APCPAA provides members with a strong professional network, including a referral network, plus regular events and periodical publications reporting on relevant business news.

Founded in 2011, the CACPAA serves a membership of CPAs and other business professionals of Chinese descent in the United States. The organization works to provide excellent continuing education, help members to develop skills, connect members professionally, and encourage aspiring accountants. The CACPAA holds regular events for networking and education, seminars, pro-bono consulting services, and outreach programs designed to connect business leaders with local organizations.

A California-based organization that began as the International Society of Young Filipino Accountants, the ISFFA provides professional education, training, and mentorship. With core values of integrity, discipline, social responsibility, and solidarity, the organization provides regular leadership conferences, a mentorship program that connects young Filipinos with practicing professionals, and scholarships run in partnership with the AICPA. The ISFFA also features several regional chapters throughout the United States.

Established in California in 1984, the NCPACA focuses on providing services for Philippine American accountants in the United States and Canada. Member organizations benefit from regular industry news updates, plus continuing education opportunities in accountancy, finance, auditing, and taxes. At the center of their work, an annual conference focuses on programs and opportunities for professional and student accountants. The organization also provides networking and scholarship opportunities for aspiring Philippine American accountants.

Resources for Indigenous Accountants and Accountants of Other Underrepresented Racial Groups

American Indian and Alaska Native students represent the smallest percentage of accounting graduates, with 1% finishing BA studies and only 0.3% leaving school with a BA and an MA. Respondents to that same survey who did not identify as American Indian, Asian, Black, Latino/a, or white made up 6% of BA and MA graduates.

In the professional world, 2% of new hires are multiethnic, 0.2% are underrepresented groups not specifically listed in the survey, and 0.1% are American Indian.

For 50 years, the American Indian Graduate Center has collaborated with Tribes, the federal government, and other organizations to support American Indian and Alaska Native students in their quest for higher education. Citing core values of excellence, impact, respect, and empowerment, the American Indian Graduate Center offers scholarships for undergraduate, graduate, and high school students. The organization also provides student resources, including a college preparatory workshop, webcasts, and a list of external opportunities.

Founded in 1970 with a mission to increase diversity in corporate America, INROADS now spans the globe with programs providing professional resources and paid internship opportunities for aspiring accountants belonging to underrepresented racial groups. The organization provides resources for high school students, college students, in-service interns, program alumni, and professionals. The internship program offers training, mentorship, and access to recruiters. INROADS also provides career guidance, hiring expositions, volunteer opportunities, and events.

Dedicated to supporting American Indian businesses for the last 40 years, the NCAIED works to assist businesses with supply chain and technical issues. The organization provides training opportunities and runs regular events, such as conferences and trade fairs. The organization offers a wealth of one-day training programs known as the Native Edge Institutes, plus a procurement technical assistance center. Business students can also apply for scholarship opportunities.

The Path to Becoming an Accountant

Select Your School

The ideal school depends largely on students' individual career goals. Prospective accounting students should seek out accredited institutions, particularly those holding regional accreditation. Other important factors may include school size, prestige, online options, alumni networks, and available resources. To find schools that celebrate diversity, prospective students may consider diversity among professors in their respective departments.

Scholarship opportunities for underrepresented students, student groups, and events can also signal a strong dedication to inclusion.

Finance Your Degree

Students should begin by completing the FAFSA, which may qualify them for low-interest loans, federal grants, and many other opportunities. Scholarships are available through professional associations, local organizations, and government offices. Students who are racially underrepresented, LGBTQ, and/or women should also search for scholarships.

Make the Most of Your Education

Through active participation in school programs, students can make the most of their educational opportunities. Internships and networking events also offer valuable career resources.

Qualify for the CPA Exam

CPA requirements vary by location. Most states require applicants to complete college coursework beyond the typical bachelor's minimum of 120 credits. Readers can find specific state requirements on this page.

Pass the CPA Exam

After completing qualifying college credit, work experience, and other requirements, CPA hopefuls can sit for the examination and gain their professional credentials.

Hunt for Jobs

New graduates can take advantage of their networks to seek out accounting jobs. Many professional accounting organizations provide job boards and other resources, such as mentorship opportunities and interview tips.

FAQs About Racial Minority Accountants

What percentage of accountants are Black?

According to the Journal of Accountancy, 8.2% of accountants and auditors are Black. The AICPA's 2017 Trends report shows that Black accountants make up lower percentages at higher-level positions in the field.

What percentage of CPAs are Black?

The AICPA's 2017 Trends report indicates that only 2% of CPAs are Black. White accountants make up 84% of CPAs.

Why is diversity important in accounting?

Diversity in accounting is crucial for aspiring accounting professionals, organizations, and the general population. For example, prospective clients may feel unwelcome if no one at an accounting firm represents their racial or ethnic group — or any other historically excluded group. Additionally, greater team diversity can improve an organization's culture, productivity, and decision-making.

Are racially underrepresented students majoring in accounting?

Yes. Students of color made up nearly half of accounting graduates in 2017, including 44% of BA graduates and 42% of BA-plus-MA graduates.

How many accountants are Latino/a?

Latino/a accountants make up 10% of new hires, 6% of professional staff, 4% of CPAs, and 2% of partners in the field.

Reviewed by:

Portrait of Angelique Geehan

Angelique Geehan

Angelique Geehan works to support and repair the connections people have with themselves and their families, communities, and cultural practices. A queer, Asian, gender binary-nonconforming parent, Geehan founded Interchange, a consulting group that offers anti-oppression support. She organizes as part of several groups, including the National Perinatal Association's Health Equity Workgroup, the Health and Healing Justice Committee of the National Queer and Trans Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance, QTPOC+ Family Circle, and Batalá Houston.

Angelique Geehan is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.

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