Author Topic: Is "CPA"-ing a viable mid-ERE/MMM for most smaller towns?  (Read 3834 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Is "CPA"-ing a viable mid-ERE/MMM for most smaller towns?
« on: March 30, 2012, 12:43:51 PM »
So, I'm trying to hatch a plan for getting some additional credentials to allow me to have an easier time finding a job (or starting my own business) in a smaller town (<25-50K people) in the next 2 years or so.  Along the way we'll still be doing the ERE/MMM thing to build the nest-egg, but we've realized we don't want to continue living in a big-city long-term.  Instead of waiting to move until we've fully FI'd, I want to work on developing a skillset that allows me to make a mid-ERE/MMM move to a smaller town and still have a decent salary to finish out the FI goal.

I have around 10 years of experience in a corporate setting, but my resume is pretty industry-specific; and its an industry that doesn't have a lot going on in the smaller-towns these days.  With my current employer, I get a pretty hefty tuition-reimbursement and I'm thinking about putting that to use to acquire some extra skills and build the resume towards a bit more "generalist" type areas.

I've always been good with numbers and solving puzzles, and I like the idea of being able to set my own hours as we move towards FI, so I'm thinking heavily about doing a CPA program.  I found one locally through our state university that's ~9 months long and would be fully covered by my tuition reimbursement.  The credits are graduate-level and the whole purpose is for business folks without an accounting background to learn the skills needed to be a CPA, or simply to apply financial accounting principles to their current job.  It would take a fair amount of my free-time away, but I think I can handle it.

The main question then is, how likely is it that I could parlay that degree/CPA designation into a pretty immediate job in a smaller-town as a CPA?  Do those jobs exist most places?  Given that I already have a fair amount of business experience that could be re-written to show more financial type work, would you think I could transition to a mid-level CPA job even if I don't have CPA experience outside of the "credentials"?

The progression I'm envisioning is: 2 yrs doing what I'm doing, then 3-5 yrs as a CPA for a company in a small-town, then FI and maybe just doing tax-work or small-business accounting on the side to help preserve the nest-egg...while I work on my writing, gardening, child-raising, etc.

Or should I just look for a job without needing the credentials since I'm not that far from ERE/MMM anyway?



  • Bristles
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Re: Is "CPA"-ing a viable mid-ERE/MMM for most smaller towns?
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2012, 05:33:36 PM »
well, my first thought is that the notion of 25,000 people being a "small town" intrigues me (I come from a town of ~1500). Hurray for perspective :).
Can't hurt to give it a shot. There are definitely Accountants in small towns. Even tiny rural hamlet-dwellers need to do their taxes. But there are some barriers to Small Town USA that you need to consider. For instance, you could be the best CPA in the world, and willing to work for lower rates than the other folks in the area, but most small town dwellers are still going to take the person with whom they have a personal relationship. While getting a job can be about who you know in any setting, that comes into sharp relief in low population areas, where a personal reference from a family friend, or your personal connections to the area, might carry more weight than your credentials. It's worth a shot, but you should definitely be aware of the unique challenges that come with moving to such an area.


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Re: Is "CPA"-ing a viable mid-ERE/MMM for most smaller towns?
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2012, 08:00:23 PM »
then FI and maybe just doing tax-work or small-business accounting

As a counter point to the CPA, based upon what you stated above - if you want to do tax work, you can do it as an EA (enrolled agent, google IRS circular 230) and if you want to do small business accounting a bookkeeping designation or possibly the CMA (certified management accountant) would serve you well. I am one accounting class away from being able to sit for the CPA exams, I work along side CPAs, but working in industry I would and do hire experienced accountants with industry experience and a mastery of excel before paying the premium for a CPA or MAcc/MBA (you'd be looking at premiums of 10% for a grad degree plus 10% for the CPA according to Robert Half's guide). I don't work for a publicly traded company so the hands on experience is more valuable because the audit/attestation and financial reporting experience isn't relevant.


  • Stubble
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Re: Is "CPA"-ing a viable mid-ERE/MMM for most smaller towns?
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2012, 07:12:19 PM »
My sense is that it's never a bad thing to invest in yourself via education. Especially if it (1) makes money for you, and (2) tuition is paid by your employer. It sounds like you want to do it, so I'd say do it! Without knowing much about job prospects in small towns for CPAs, I believe people who are good at their job are always in demand. It doesn't sound like you have much to lose!


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Is "CPA"-ing a viable mid-ERE/MMM for most smaller towns?
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2012, 09:56:22 AM »
Thanks all for the tips.

I think I still need to do some considering here though.  I'm not 100% set on staying in my current position long enough to get the reimburse and finish out that program.  Plus, I'm wondering how much my desire to do the school thing comes from a lack of confidence in my own current abilities...  Not that school is a bad thing; but I likely have all the skills I need to be successful given the experience I've had in my current job.  It may just be a matter of applying those skills with a healthy serving of can-do attitude...

</off to develop said attitude>


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