Author Topic: Accounting/CPA for a career change?  (Read 16608 times)

LouisPritchard

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Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« on: November 16, 2014, 11:29:33 PM »
I currently 33 and work in oil and gas, and hate it. Now I'll recommend it to anyone who wants to go out there and make a bunch of money, but I'm burned out and want to move back to the south east where the only oil field is offshore and I'd be perfectly happy to never see the gulf of mexico again much less a off shore platform or rig.

I've got a BBA and just started taking some accounting classes, figure with after 6 classes I'll have my 150 hours and meet the qualifications to sit the CPA exam. I know there's some accountants here and was wondering if ya'll had any advise as to making the change and what other tests to try and eventually take (CMA, CFP, CFA etc..)

juuustin

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2014, 06:24:10 AM »
I currently 33 and work in oil and gas, and hate it. Now I'll recommend it to anyone who wants to go out there and make a bunch of money, but I'm burned out and want to move back to the south east where the only oil field is offshore and I'd be perfectly happy to never see the gulf of mexico again much less a off shore platform or rig.

I've got a BBA and just started taking some accounting classes, figure with after 6 classes I'll have my 150 hours and meet the qualifications to sit the CPA exam. I know there's some accountants here and was wondering if ya'll had any advise as to making the change and what other tests to try and eventually take (CMA, CFP, CFA etc..)

I'll let you know how it goes after January 7th!! :)

I am currently in the process of a career change from Fed LEO to Public Accounting (Big4).  I was in a similar state of mind in the Winter of 2012 when I decided I wanted to take some Accounting classes.  I ended up graduating with a 2nd degree in 5 semesters (less than two years) from a state university's online program.  I got an office interview straight away with a Big4 firm through networking with my friend's dad and lo and behold, I was offered the job a few days later.  I am currently studying for my first section of the CPA (taking it the 23rd), but like I said, I don't start until January.

Judging by a CPA forum I read, the job market for career switchers isn't great, though.  I am young enough and don't make enough yet that I was able to simply get hired through the campus track.  I am taking a little bit of a pay hit in the first year, but my long-term earnings potential is wayyyy higher.  I have heard horror stories of public accounting, but I honestly believe the practice I am going into will be different because of the service line.  We shall see!

Bank

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2014, 07:04:06 AM »
I work in consulting and have a CPA that I got through self study and also an ABV (Accredited in Business Valuation - an add on offered by the AICPA).  I think a CPA is useful for all kinds of things in my day to day, although I have never practiced as a public accountant.

I recommend doing the Becker self-study course when you are preparing for the exams.  For someone who wasn't in public accounting and hadn't been exposed to a lot of things on a day to day basis, I thought their approach fit well with the classroom knowledge I already had.

The ABV is okay - it's not very sophisticated material and (again) can be done through self study.  Probably not very useful unless you work in business valuation.

pbkmaine

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2014, 07:25:11 AM »
I also recommend Becker for CPA exam prep. So, public accounting. They eat their young. Monster hours, but great training. Most typical path is to work there for a couple of years - at least enough to meet the experience requirement in your state. And if you may be moving, make sure you fulfill the experience requirements in other states as well. Most people I know then go to work for a client. If you stay, you will learn to manage people. Senior Manager level gets you into sales and large project management. But hours are killer and never get better, not even for Partners. CFP is Certified Financial Planner, an unrelated designation with its own courses and requirements. Easier exams. As a gross generalization, most CFPs are extroverts and most CPAs are introverts.

Jenny1974

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2014, 07:43:55 AM »
I've been a CPA for about 15 years now.  I mostly love my job.  It's been a strong stable career choice  . . . albeit not always the most exciting.  I worked in the Big 4 for about 3 years and now work in the tax department for a Fortune 500 company.  I enjoy working in industry much more than public accounting but some people love the Big 4 experience.

Being in industry has allowed me to do what I love without giving up my family life in the process.  The hours are
reasonable . . . not a whole lot of OT except for quarter ends.  My salary and bonuses are excellent and we are given generous vacation allowances. 

For a career switcher, you might consider getting on with one of the regional firms. After a few years in public, you are much more likely to score an industry gig if you so desire.  I've heard the hours are a little more reasonable in the regional and local firms but I don't know how true that is.

mak1277

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2014, 08:34:50 AM »
I was at a Big 4 for nearly 14 years until fairly recently.  If that's the route you want to go, you'll need to ask yourself if you can handle being supervised by 25-28 year olds....because that's what will happen.  What type of starting salary would you be looking to make?  It's definitely a good place to be trained and it will open up a decent number of other opportunities, but it is a fairly crushing workload.  Regional firms *should* be a little more manageable, but that's not based on first hand knowledge.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2014, 08:35:35 AM »
I did a career change and became a CPA. It affords a whole ton of opportunities. I did a Masters of Accounting degree (not strictly necessary to get my 150 hours, but I thought it might make up for not having an accounting degree as my undergrad. With careful planning and cooperation from the Masters program at my school, I ended up in school no longer than if I'd cobbled together my hours requirement and specific class requirements on my own.

I had a goal for my CPA - I ultimately wanted to start my own sole proprietorship and do individual/small business tax, so I pursued the opportunities that got me the experience I needed.

But there was a whole slew of other opportunities (some very tempting) available to me: Big 4 accounting, industry (oil and gas accounting being the highest paid offers at my university), mid-sized CPA firms, small CPA firms. There were analyst jobs, internal audit, external audit, consulting, IT audit, taxation, international tax, etc, etc. The list goes on.

The biggest problem you'll run into with this career change is that you'll start at an entry level salary. You may also need to be aggressive with job changes in order to escalate your salary. The second biggest challenge is to figure out what you actually want to do as an accountant so that you can stay in control of your career progression - it's easy to get railroaded into a career specialty if you just go with the flow.

As for extra letters - that will depend entirely on where you go in accounting.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 08:37:07 AM by Cpa Cat »

LouisPritchard

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2014, 08:39:51 AM »
Yeah, I've heard all those same things about public accounting. I'm not looking at big 4 more regional/local if I were to go the public route. Would probably like private better but the state I want to live in requires 1 year under a CPA for the license. Long term, I figure I can always go private practice with the CPA which I figure, if kept small, would be a nice retirement gig I could run out of a home office. I've known a couple of people that have done this.

Does the CMA or CFA carry much weight?

I actually have a interview coming up for a operations analyst position, which might be a good foot in the door job.

Ohh and Becker must be good because that is the only exam prep that I ever hear about.

ILoveMyBlondeStache

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2014, 08:49:41 AM »
I also made a career change to accounting.  Went back for a Master's in Accounting 5 years after graduating with a Bachelor's in Human Resources Management.  I haven't looked back once.  Studying for the CPA exam is a beast when you have a little more going on in your life (rather than being a typical right-out-of-college student who doesn't have a family, etc.) but it's well worth it.  I just finished passing all four sections and just saw a 22.6% increase in my pay for simply asking.  Those three letters are golden. 

I myself never went into public accounting, and I haven't seen that it's held me back at all. When applying for jobs, I was asked to interview left and right.  I suppose it depends what region you live in and the demand level for accountants, but I feel like accounting is a field that will only continue to grow. 

I don't know much yet about additional certifications, but plan on looking into the CMA myself.

Good luck with your decision!

rugorak

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2014, 08:55:18 AM »
So not to completely hijack this thread but would anyone suggest this for a side gig in FIRE? I have been considering it and seems like perfect place to ask.

Some background - I currently work in IT for a college. I can take courses for free (other than books). I started 2 classes towards an MBA but found myself disillusioned with the coursework and where I might end up with it. Pay wouldn't be much different than what I make now, I probably would have a lot more BS to deal with. So I think I'll just stick with what I do until I can reach FIRE. But since I can take classes for free it seems like a waste to not take advantage of it. Plus it actually helps with my job to see things from the student side of things. My thought was if I got some sort of accounting degree I might be in a good position to do books for small businesses and/or taxes for people during tax season. My sister does the books for some small businesses and she is not a CPA. Some of them only take a day a week of her time. Seems like it would be a good fit for someone who doesn't want to do the 9-5 grind but still wants to do something now and then and maybe even make some extra cash here and there.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

Thanks!

juuustin

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2014, 09:06:02 AM »
Yeah, I've heard all those same things about public accounting. I'm not looking at big 4 more regional/local if I were to go the public route. Would probably like private better but the state I want to live in requires 1 year under a CPA for the license. Long term, I figure I can always go private practice with the CPA which I figure, if kept small, would be a nice retirement gig I could run out of a home office. I've known a couple of people that have done this.

Does the CMA or CFA carry much weight?

I actually have a interview coming up for a operations analyst position, which might be a good foot in the door job.

Ohh and Becker must be good because that is the only exam prep that I ever hear about.

The experience requirement is a big reason I decided to take the Big 4 offer without second thought.  When I went back to school, I did it with the intention of staying in the gov't, passing the CPA exam as a credential (not necessarily becoming licensed), and then parlaying that into forensic/fraud investigations.  I soon realized that becoming a certified and licensed CPA, instead of just some schmuck that passed all four sections, is really worth it.

pbkmaine

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2014, 09:34:41 AM »
The only CFA I know is Chartered Financial Analyst, a completely different thing. Many people who take it are Math majors. There is a series of exams. Very tough exams, on par with the CPA. The CFAs I know work in financial services firms. Many are involved in the management of mutual funds or the analysis of securities.

pbkmaine

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2014, 09:39:12 AM »
Rugorak: there's passing the CPA exam and then there's becoming a CPA. You cannot use the marks until you fulfill all the requirements for the designation. Those include type and number of courses and work experience. The requirements vary by state. For example, In NJ you need six months of experience in a CPA firm, but next door in NY it's more.

Bank

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2014, 10:44:49 AM »
Rugorak: there's passing the CPA exam and then there's becoming a CPA. You cannot use the marks until you fulfill all the requirements for the designation. Those include type and number of courses and work experience. The requirements vary by state. For example, In NJ you need six months of experience in a CPA firm, but next door in NY it's more.

More and more states offer a CPA designation with the qualifier "non-reporting" attached to it.  That means you satisfied the education requirements and passed the CPA exam but have not served time required at a CPA firm to sign off on financial statements.  That's what I have.

pbkmaine

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2014, 10:56:24 AM »
Thanks, Bank. Interesting.  I have "Inactive" status in NJ, since I no longer work in the profession and do not want to keep up with the CPEs. Do you put CPA (non-reporting) on your business card?

john c

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2014, 12:32:15 PM »
I embarked on changing careers to being a CPA about 6 years ago. 

A couple of points:

-Wyoming/Montana (I forget which one) and Massachusetts have a separate CPA license and license to practice.  If you pass all four sections of the CPA exam you can be licensed in these states without the experience requirement.  I recommend this for folks that don't intend to practice on their own.

-I used both Gleim and Becker to study for the exam.  I personally had better success with Gleim online.  They have a one-pass guarantee, and it worked for me.  Don't buy the books, buy the online version only.  It has all the same stuff as the books, and I prefer to read online, anyways.

-Being a CPA is an excellent way to get a good income for seasonal work.  CPA's in my area bill out at $250/hour or more, and it doesn't take much to earn $40k or more in a tax season. 

-I recommend working for another CPA for a tax season or two to learn what you're doing.  A key point for me was to learn how to price my services.  I still feel weird handing someone a bill for $4000 for two days' work, but that's a very good rate for my area. 

-A reasonable way to go is to buy a small practice as a starting tool.  The reason is that you will start with an income, rather than spending a couple of years building up to it.  Also, most of your new clients will come from referrals, and starting from a larger base will mean more revenue.  CPA/EA firms are very cheap, all things considered.

-You can do tax/accounting work well into your 70's without fear of getting laid off.

-CPAs are needed all over.  Surprisingly, many CPA firms in rural areas take much longer to sell than in urban areas, because there are fewer CPAs per capita, and thus fewer buyers.  You can easily purchase a practice in a low cost of living area.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 12:34:01 PM by john c »

john c

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2014, 12:40:33 PM »
juuustin;

I think you are crazy to leave a Federal LE position for accounting.  The key reason is the 20 year retirement that you are leaving behind.  Calculate the present value of the future retirement payments after you retire at age 42, 45, or whichever age you are eligible.  You will likely live into your 80s.  That is worth a minimum of $1.5M to $2.0M. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, once you pass the exam, you can be licensed as a CPA, but not licensed to practice, in certain states.  Then, once retired, more into public practice.

However, I understand that sometimes leaving a lucrative career is like a divorce; no matter how much it costs you, you just have to go.  If that's the cast, then I understand.  If not, I would keep slugging it out.  If you can move into a position at some point in your career where you investigate fraud, then you will be highly employable after retirement with a CPA as a fraud investigator.  This pays well into the 6 figures.

Think about it.


juuustin

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2014, 12:59:38 PM »
juuustin;

I think you are crazy to leave a Federal LE position for accounting.  The key reason is the 20 year retirement that you are leaving behind.  Calculate the present value of the future retirement payments after you retire at age 42, 45, or whichever age you are eligible.  You will likely live into your 80s.  That is worth a minimum of $1.5M to $2.0M. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, once you pass the exam, you can be licensed as a CPA, but not licensed to practice, in certain states.  Then, once retired, more into public practice.

However, I understand that sometimes leaving a lucrative career is like a divorce; no matter how much it costs you, you just have to go.  If that's the cast, then I understand.  If not, I would keep slugging it out.  If you can move into a position at some point in your career where you investigate fraud, then you will be highly employable after retirement with a CPA as a fraud investigator.  This pays well into the 6 figures.

Think about it.

john, I appreciate the post, but without getting into way too many specifics, my job is awful and is a complete dead-end.  I assure you it is not the Fed LE type gig that you are imagining.  That is really all I can say.

john c

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2014, 01:12:41 PM »
juuustin;

I understand completely.  Plus, a lot of times your coworkers and environment is literally toxic.  I know that it's very little "Starsky and Hutch", and a lot of "The Office".  The trick is to move around to a better spot.  Having a CPA will open some doors to getting a more interesting 1811.  Alternately, move over to the US Park Police (or similar) and get OUT of the office. 

Like I said, sometimes you just have to walk out that door, no matter what it costs you.  I understand.  You need to make the right decision to you.  The same thing applies to the military.  I have many friends that are now of early retirement age from Federal LE and the military, and they often say that they thought they wanted to be out a lot more than they actually wanted to be out.

Since you've made the decision, I wish you the best of luck.  I'm sure you'll do great.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 01:16:04 PM by john c »

sunnyca

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2014, 01:56:34 PM »
I took the CPA exam in 2006 and used the Becker course and can highly recommend it.  I also took the CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) exam for fun, and got that certification as well.  The nice thing about the CFE is that it's an international designation, and recognized by many.

When I first started out, I worked for a local public accounting firm and did audit, tax, and consulting work.  I enjoyed it, but the hours and the travel were pretty brutal.  I now work for a local government and really enjoy it. 

Good luck on your new career path!

Cpa Cat

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2014, 03:18:03 PM »
Something to keep in mind is that it is the norm in public accounting for a firm to cover the cost of exam fees, pay for Becker, and offer a CPA completion bonus (usually between $3k-5k).

It is worth several thousand dollars to you if you can get your foot in the door at a firm prior to actually sitting for your exam.

Bank

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #21 on: November 17, 2014, 06:34:48 PM »
Thanks, Bank. Interesting.  I have "Inactive" status in NJ, since I no longer work in the profession and do not want to keep up with the CPEs. Do you put CPA (non-reporting) on your business card?

It's actually not required that you include the designation "non-reporting" on your card, and I don't because of space issues.  We are all equal in the eyes of the Lord and the AICPA.  ;-)

I assume disclosure would be required if I advertised my company as a CPA firm, but I'm not sure.  I include the qualifier on my professional CV and my resume and on my website bio.

Modified:  Based on john c's comment upthread, being able to hold the CPA without the experience requirement is not as widespread as I had thought it was.  I am in Massachusetts, so I guess I qualified by luck.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 06:39:32 PM by Bank »

mozar

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2014, 07:10:21 PM »
The path that will get you the most options in the future is to start with a Big 4. Accounting is changing quickly so getting as strong a base as possible is good. CPA seems to be enough for certifications. That said I have never worked for the big 4 and i do not have the cpa. I get calls from recruiters asking me when am I going to get my cpa already. But a lot of companies are so desperate for accountants they don't care.

 I work in federal audit consulting. The federal govt is the main gig in town where I live. A lot of people are getting hired for the military push to be audit-able by 2017, with more internal audit work to come after that.

A really good idea is to look at job descriptions on indeed or whatever. Recruiters are starting to ask for sql experience, which I think is crazy.

rmendpara

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2014, 07:40:02 PM »
I currently 33 and work in oil and gas, and hate it. Now I'll recommend it to anyone who wants to go out there and make a bunch of money, but I'm burned out and want to move back to the south east where the only oil field is offshore and I'd be perfectly happy to never see the gulf of mexico again much less a off shore platform or rig.

I've got a BBA and just started taking some accounting classes, figure with after 6 classes I'll have my 150 hours and meet the qualifications to sit the CPA exam. I know there's some accountants here and was wondering if ya'll had any advise as to making the change and what other tests to try and eventually take (CMA, CFP, CFA etc..)

One thing at a time. Go for the CPA exams first and then set your sights on how to get experience for 1-3 years that will qualify for the license, as well as hopefully figure out what area of accounting you would like to work in (corporate tax, individual tax, external audit, advisory/consulting, etc).

CMA - Management accounting/reporting. Very different animal. More common for cost accountants. Cost analysis, budgeting, variance analysis, etc.

CFP - Financial planning. A big difference. You are selling financial advice and planning services and financial management stuff.

CFA - By far the most prestigious of these three... but also for a very different industry. Most CFA holders work in asset managmeent, corporate finance, financial advisory/consulting, investment research, portfolio managmenet, etc.

Please avoid taking exams to just get credentials without knowing what it entails and if it's helpful to help reach your goals. As an example, CFA requires FOUR years of experience (only certain types qualify) to earn the charter.

My take: I worked in Big 4 audit and left for corporate finance role in industry (term for corporate jobs). Earned my CPA, and taking level 2 of CFA next year.

It's a good field and highly transferable among audit/accounting/finance/etc. Nothing is easy, but if you're smart and take the effort to learn things outside your comfort zone, and also understand people and can at least hold your ground in office politics, you'll be able to manage a solid career.

High demand for qualified people.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 07:44:48 PM by rmendpara »

nottoolatetostart

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2014, 03:23:45 AM »
Just wanted to pop in to say that I appreciated this thread. Thanks for the responses.

I am starting some accounting classes in the spring at a community college with the pursuit of focusing on individual tax. While we are nearly FIRE, I want to plant the seeds for this to be my supplemental income after I quit my current job since we are so young and I want the flexibility for my kids to work seasonally.

Not sure if I will go after CPA designation or not, but I am in similar boat as OP and just need specific classes to round out the 150 hour requirement. 

Doubleh

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #25 on: November 18, 2014, 05:23:20 AM »
Thanks all for the information in this thread, its very helpful for me. I don't mean to thread jack but there's a bunch of people in the industry here I'd love to get some feedback from, and hopefully my questions will be useful to others.

I'm looking to FIRE in the next 2-3 years, after which we will spend our summers travelling by boat - this is our driver for FI to have the freedom to do this. Winters I'm flexible and we have talked about spending them in the Seattle area (currently living in UK) to be near my wife's family. I have suspected for a couple of years that seasonal tax work would be a great way of working for a few months a year to keep my brain active, provide robustness to our plan and maybe even allow me to leave the stache to compound for a few years.

However whenever I've researched this most of the info I've found has been about working minimum wage for a tax mill like HR Block, or the unrealistic "Become a millionaire by opening your own tax practice, just send $200 to me" sort. I'd love to see any pointers to realistic information or hear more real life accounts here.

My biggest dilemma is that while I spent 5 years working for a Big 4 firm here in UK and hold a designation equivalent to CPA, it doesn't get me any sort of exemption and indeed I may need to go back to school to get credits to even sit the exam. Getting an EA qualification looks to be a less onerous prospect as it would just involve learning the relevant material (which I would of course need to learn anyway to work in the business) and taking an exam.

Can anyone here with experience in tax prep comment on the opportunities and earning ability for an EA compared to a CPA? Alternatively what would you think are the chances of being able to work under a CPA to gain experience before deciding whether to take the qualification myself and strike out on my own?

chasesfish

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #26 on: November 18, 2014, 05:40:10 AM »

For a career switcher, you might consider getting on with one of the regional firms. After a few years in public, you are much more likely to score an industry gig if you so desire.  I've heard the hours are a little more reasonable in the regional and local firms but I don't know how true that is.

It depends!

One of my friends recently left a regional he was on partner track for.  Said the pay didn't equal the big 4, stress was the same, and management didn't have the same oversight because they were the owners.  Had a mass exodus out of the firm.


On the OP's question, I do think getting an accounting degree and CPA license is a great idea for a career change.  Very employable profession and you can either make decent money with a good quality of life or make great money and work all the time.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #27 on: November 18, 2014, 08:40:04 AM »
Just wanted to pop in to say that I appreciated this thread. Thanks for the responses.

I am starting some accounting classes in the spring at a community college with the pursuit of focusing on individual tax. While we are nearly FIRE, I want to plant the seeds for this to be my supplemental income after I quit my current job since we are so young and I want the flexibility for my kids to work seasonally.

Not sure if I will go after CPA designation or not, but I am in similar boat as OP and just need specific classes to round out the 150 hour requirement.

You might consider the EA (Enrolled Agent) designation as an option, if seasonal individual tax work is your primary focus. It is much cheaper/quicker and let's you skip all the non-tax stuff. It is absolutely all the credentials you need for seasonal tax work. The shortcoming of an EA is that a CPA is more familiar to the public.

Can anyone here with experience in tax prep comment on the opportunities and earning ability for an EA compared to a CPA? Alternatively what would you think are the chances of being able to work under a CPA to gain experience before deciding whether to take the qualification myself and strike out on my own?

Earning ability: As mentioned above, the general public tends to respect the CPA designation more, so there's probably a willingness to pay more to a self-employed CPA vs self-employed EA. Within a firm's tax department*, though, there is virtually no difference on the lower end of the payscale. Most CPA firms won't promote past a certain point without the actual CPA designation.

As an EA, your chances of being able to work under a CPA are pretty high. Without any designation, your chief hurdle will be that most interns are hired through university recruiting, so you may need to network to get a foot in the door with someone.

*In firms that do individual/small business tax. Larger firms often do very little of this kind of work and would have less need for an EA. The firm that does Coca-Cola's tax return is not also doing Grandma Smith's 1040 - unless Grandma Smith is Mitt Romney.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2014, 08:59:57 AM by Cpa Cat »

nottoolatetostart

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #28 on: November 18, 2014, 09:19:03 AM »
Just wanted to pop in to say that I appreciated this thread. Thanks for the responses.

I am starting some accounting classes in the spring at a community college with the pursuit of focusing on individual tax. While we are nearly FIRE, I want to plant the seeds for this to be my supplemental income after I quit my current job since we are so young and I want the flexibility for my kids to work seasonally.

Not sure if I will go after CPA designation or not, but I am in similar boat as OP and just need specific classes to round out the 150 hour requirement.

You might consider the EA (Enrolled Agent) designation as an option, if seasonal individual tax work is your primary focus. It is much cheaper/quicker and let's you skip all the non-tax stuff. It is absolutely all the credentials you need for seasonal tax work. The shortcoming of an EA is that a CPA is more familiar to the public.

Thanks, Cpa Cat. I am googling this to learn more. You are the best!!!!

rugorak

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #29 on: November 18, 2014, 01:53:54 PM »
Rugorak: there's passing the CPA exam and then there's becoming a CPA. You cannot use the marks until you fulfill all the requirements for the designation. Those include type and number of courses and work experience. The requirements vary by state. For example, In NJ you need six months of experience in a CPA firm, but next door in NY it's more.

I'm less concerned about passing an exam or even becoming a CPA then the utility of the degree/courses as far as picking up some side work here and there. Assuming the cost is only my time (which it pretty much is except for books) is it worth going for some sort of accounting degree or is the pay so low as a side gig that I would be better off just picking up something like working for a ski resort for minimum wage and a lift ticket part time? Unlike the OP I am not so much looking for a career change as a side gig in FIRE that will be different enough to be interesting but not necessarily require the time commitment to keep my skills up to date as IT would where I have to pretty much relearn everything every 3-5 years.

Doubleh

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #30 on: November 18, 2014, 07:18:07 PM »
Thanks CPAcat - that's exactly the sort of "from the horse's mouth" info I was hoping for

LouisPritchard

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #31 on: November 18, 2014, 08:33:28 PM »
Just wanted to say thanks for the replies. Way more info than I was expecting, and really reassuring that it isn't a waste of time to pursue.

Good news is I have a interview on the 1st for a "operations analyst" job that sounds a lot like a entry level cost accountant type of position so might get the change sooner than I thought. Down side is the initial pay cut will take me from 100K to around 40Kish, that will wreck my savings rate.

MgoSam

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #32 on: November 19, 2014, 11:19:14 AM »
Have you considered looking at a career as an actuary? The reason I ask is that it is a field filled with many people like you that have wanted a career change at 33. You will need take a few exams and pass them before you likely will be hired, and it is not a job for anyone that doesn't love spreadsheets and numbers, but might be worth looking into.

mozar

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #33 on: November 19, 2014, 08:36:29 PM »
40k seems low for an operations analyst. Is this where you are or a new location?

LouisPritchard

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Re: Accounting/CPA for a career change?
« Reply #34 on: November 20, 2014, 06:32:32 PM »
40k seems low for an operations analyst. Is this where you are or a new location?

New location. I also have no previous experience in accounting/finance/etc.. so I figure that's fair for entry level, it's a very low COL area and salaries run lower as well, and of course nothing has been negotiated or set in stone.