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To be or not to be: an investigation of accounting students’ career intentions

Zauwiyah Ahmad (Faculty of Business, Multimedia University, Melaka, Malaysia)
Hishamuddin Ismail (Faculty of Business, Multimedia University, Melaka, Malaysia)
R. N. Anantharaman (Faculty of Business, Multimedia University, Melaka, Malaysia)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 13 April 2015




The purpose of this paper is to study accounting students’ intentions to pursue their careers as accountants and modelling this within the context of Malaysian accounting education.


Data were gathered via a questionnaire survey involving undergraduate accounting students. Factor analysis, independent sample t-tests, and multiple regressions were employed.


In total, four findings were derived from this study. First, within the undergraduate accounting programmes, non-commitment towards the accounting profession can still exist. Second, intrinsic interest is a significant predictor of career intentions. Third, the influence of anticipated conflict provides a new finding in relation to accounting students’ career intentions. The last finding is concerned with the influence of internship experience on students’ career intentions.

Research limitations/implications

It was assumed that differences detected between the accounting student cohorts reflect changes over time in students’ intentions.

Practical implications

Suggestions that have been previously put forward in efforts to market the accounting profession were mainly focused on promoting the extrinsic rewards. However, findings from this study suggested that sole focus on extrinsic rewards is not enough to warrant commitment towards the profession. Instead, marketing efforts should also focus on intrinsic values of the profession.


The study has provided evidence that anticipated conflict should be given more attention by accounting researchers. Although students’ career intentions seemed to become clearer and more uniform as they progressed with their studies, two issues remain to be addressed by education institutions and accounting professional bodies, namely anticipated conflict and the conduct of internship programme.



Ahmad, Z., Ismail, H. and Anantharaman, R.N. (2015), "To be or not to be: an investigation of accounting students’ career intentions", Education + Training, Vol. 57 No. 3, pp. 360-376.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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