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Why some students choose to become chartered accountants (and others do not)

Cilliers van Zyl (Department of Accounting, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa SizweNtsaluba & Gobodo, Pretoria, South Africa)
Charl de Villiers (Department of Accounting and Finance, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand and University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)

Meditari Accountancy Research

ISSN: 1022-2529

Article publication date: 1 October 2011




South Africa, like many countries in the rest of the world, is currently facing a shortage of chartered accountants (CAs). The purpose of this paper is to examine the factors influencing the career choice of accounting students in South Africa.


A questionnaire survey was used to assist professional institutes of CAs, universities, audit practitioners and other interested parties to understand the factors that influence students' career choices. The respondents were first‐year business students at a leading South African university.


The results indicate that CA students' choice is driven mainly by job security, job satisfaction, aptitude for accounting and potential future earnings. Although a high percentage of non‐CA students have considered becoming a CA (61.6 per cent), they cite job satisfaction as one of the key reasons why they decided against a CA qualification. The two groups clearly have different views on job satisfaction. Another important reason the non‐CA group mentioned against CA studies, was the strenuous nature of this field, including the technical difficulty of the subjects and the lengthy period of study required. Significant differences between the CA and non‐CA group were evident when the means of the ratings of career choice factors were compared. All mean scores, for each of the 12 career choice factors, were higher for CA stream students, compared with the non‐CA stream students. A possible reason is that CA students are more career oriented than their non‐CA student counterparts.


This study extends the literature. It investigates and rates the career choice factors influencing accounting students to become a CA and the factors that influence business students not to pursue CA studies. These results could potentially be used to develop a strategy to influence students' career choice of the CA profession in an effort to increase the number of CAs in South Africa.



van Zyl, C. and de Villiers, C. (2011), "Why some students choose to become chartered accountants (and others do not)", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 19 No. 1/2, pp. 56-74.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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