This article summarises the existing evidence of the earliest CPAs and offers new data as a result of a questionnaire survey and interviews with CPAs with regard to their social class, gender, education, and the nature of their first employment. From the start CPAs were from a relatively high social class and from families of long standing in America. A majority but not all of the early CPAs graduated from high school but this soon became a requirement. Most of the first CPAs did not go to college but accounting became virtually an all-graduate profession by the Second World War. The questionnaire evidence from the 1930s to the present day indicates that 50% of the respondents came from the upper middle class, around 30% from the lower middle class, and 20% from the working class; these proportions did not change over the period of the study. A large majority of the CPAs in the survey were educated at their local high schools and their home-state public universities. The structure and changes in the US education system seemed to have little impact on the social class of the CPA respondents. Accounting firms recruited 85% of the sample and the rest joined commercial or public concerns. No strong preference was found among the various types of employer with regard to the gender, education or the social class of their recruits. Recruiters attempted to hire the best candidates they could regardless of these factors.

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