Author Topic: Would spending money on education for more future earnings be a worthwhile inves  (Read 8948 times)

relivingliver

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tment?

I have a degree in international business but I currently work as a receptionist at a doctors office for 14 dollars an hour. I think it might be good if I go to school and study accounting, and get a CPA. That will mean another 3 years at school and maybe 20,000 dollars in student loans. Though I hear the earnings potential for CPAs is pretty good.

phred

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No!  Why are you not now using your international business degree?  Any ninth grader can be a receptionist.  What happened?

frugaliknowit

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If you want to go the accounting route, take the requisite courses (at least a few) at a local community college.  Do not borrow money for this.

relivingliver

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I'm not sure why I can't find any international business jobs. Actually I do know. I didnt learn anything in college. I never did any internships or extracurriculars, and to make matters worse I taught English in a foreign country for a year further alienating myself from the education. I'm so alienated from that field, I'm not even sure where to look for jobs. Now if I start working my ass off today with my current skill set (limited as it is) where would I be in 3 years? I know I dont have a future in the doctors office, so something has to change

rocksinmyhead

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but you have experience IN a foreign country! that's awesome! maybe you could spin that into something?

phred

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contact your alma mater.  The placement office may help you find something -- either a late breaking internship or some job leads.  Experience in a foreign country sounds like a resume boost

MrsPete

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I agree that you need to get out of your current situation.  As you say, it has no future; furthermore, the longer you stay in that no-skills position, the worse it'll look to future employers. 

You don't sound excited -- or even remotely interested -- in your international business degree.  Since you already have it, I'd start by investigating what you can do with it.  Going to your university's placement office is a good starting place.

If you're going into accounting, beginning at community college is a great option. 

An important question:  Earlier in your life you earned this degree, which is now getting you nowhere.  I suspect you went into it without much research . . . is the accounting goal more realistic? 

Cpa Cat

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Look up the actual education requirements to sit for the CPA in your state. You can probably round up the requisite 150 hours without actually getting a degree in accounting and studying for three years. Just go get the specific classes that you need.

bikebum

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Seems to me you should take more initiative in finding a good job. Your tone seems too passive. Teaching in a foreign country should be awesome experience, but if you act like it was bad for your career others will probably believe you. Another degree won't guarantee you a good job; you gotta go out and show you are worth it.

Sorry if any of that comes off as rude. It's just based on the 2 posts you have here.

ch12

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Look up the actual education requirements to sit for the CPA in your state. You can probably round up the requisite 150 hours without actually getting a degree in accounting and studying for three years. Just go get the specific classes that you need.

+1 Listen to the CPA.

I am going back to get my MBA and take those grad level accounting classes, but the credit requirement has never stood in my way. A lot of the kids who went to my university had to at least get an MSA so they could qualify. I got out of undergrad with 211 credits, so that 150 credit level has never posed a problem to me.

Cpa Cat

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Look up the actual education requirements to sit for the CPA in your state. You can probably round up the requisite 150 hours without actually getting a degree in accounting and studying for three years. Just go get the specific classes that you need.

+1 Listen to the CPA.

I am going back to get my MBA and take those grad level accounting classes, but the credit requirement has never stood in my way. A lot of the kids who went to my university had to at least get an MSA so they could qualify. I got out of undergrad with 211 credits, so that 150 credit level has never posed a problem to me.

And with a business degree under her belt, she probably needs only a handful of specific accounting classes. At worst she's sitting at 120 hours, much of which will already fill the business-related education requirements.  There's no way this should take 3 years. I went back with a non-business undergrad and it only took me 1.5 years total to round out my education requirements in my extremely finicky state.

The OP can probably get this done with minimal effort and cost with community college and online courses. But the way to go IS NOT to get another degree. There is absolutely no benefit to that in our field. Get only the minimum requirements to sit for the exam.

A good resource for the OP is probably the Another71 forums.

phred

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It may take 2.5 years as one accounting course may be pre-req to another.  Depending on which state she is in, she may need 32 semester credit hours of accounting courses.  If her business degree is typical, she already has the first year of accounting.

The good thing about this plan is it can be done part-time since will only be taking one or two accounting courses per term

relivingliver

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There would be 9 more classes to get the degree for accounting. Which I can finish in 3 semesters due to prerequisite leveling. Then I figure another 1.5 years to get the masters degree in accounting. The total cost of the bachelor's program would be 13,270 not including incidentals. The graduate program might cost another 9,000.

CPA cat would you say it would be beneficial to take a graduate program in accounting to pass the CPA or increase my future earnings potential as an accountant?

So I think thats all pretty reasonable. Whats unknown though is if I'd be earning nearly the same amount in 3 years if I somehow managed to find a job in the business field.

rmendpara

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I'm not trying to be offensive, but you don't seem to think things through very much before making decisions.

Have you looked into the accounting profession(s) in more detail? Have you thought about what area of accounting you might like to do (auditing, individual taxes, corporate tax, corporate accounting, corporate finance...)? Do you know what that area/areas likely pay and how the job outlook is in your city (or cities where you would be willing to go)?

You went through an entire degree in IB before thinking about work. Then, you spent a YEAR teaching, still didn't have a plan for work, and came back to work in a non-degree requiring position.

Now you want to go into accounting?

It's a good field. I am a CPA, worked in Big 4, and now work in corporate finance. I started at $50k base 2 years ago, and now am at > $80k. Opportunities are abundant... for well qualified candidates.

This school you speak of, does it have good name recognition in the business school?

I hope you do some more research about the field, about yourself/your interests/your goals, and about the school and major before you take out $20k in additional debt and commit another 3 years of your time.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2014, 11:54:09 PM by rmendpara »

Cressida

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Cpa Cat is correct. Look at the education requirements for taking the CPA exam in your state, get those requirements (hopefully community college credits count; in my state (WA) they didn't use to, but do now), study for the exam, and pass it. You don't need an accounting degree to get an accounting job if you have the CPA. I know; I have an MA in music and this is the route I took.

This way, no need to take out loans. Many community colleges offer courses online or at night. You can keep your day job while amassing the credits. Again, this is what I did. It's very doable.

relivingliver

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I'm not trying to be offensive, but you don't seem to think things through very much before making decisions.


I'd agree with that characterization. I am a bit impetuous and I definitely had no idea what sort of jobs to look for as an intl business major. I figured I'd go to China for a year, and that experience would make me look good to future employers. But that wasn't the case. It seems many businesses want experienced candidates with a specialized knowledge.

 One of the reasons I'm looking into accounting though, is because I beleive I don't have any skills which a big company would want. I passed all my business classes with solid grades, though I never retained the information, or the information is relatively useless. So one reason I thought accounting would be useful is it is a technical degree. That CPA cert means you have skills. When I look for jobs now, all I see is job openings for technical degrees like engineering or networking.

On the other hand, I might end up a year or three from now in the same position and with more debt. Though I might not be able to find as good of a job now without a new degree.

Thanks for talking me through this guys

mozar

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Yeah, I went into accounting because I had no idea what else to do where I could easily get a job.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 11:38:24 AM by mozar »

Cressida

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My advice: Find some people that you can talk to about what they do every day. I can see why some people are bored to tears by accounting. I find adding and subtracting and rifling through paperwork to be deeply satisfying. Second is go ahead and study and take the cpa now. Then when you finish your classes your just need to fulfill the work requirement.

In WA at least, you can't do that. You can take the exam if you're one course short, but no more than that.

I should also say, the pass rate for the CPA exam is fairly bad (I think it's around 50%). No doubt that includes some unmotivated just-out-of-undergrads, but it's worth thinking about if you're not a great test-taker in general.

deborah

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It sounds to me like you are procrastinating:

1. Talk to your alma mater as the others have said. Do it this WEEK

You say you got solid grades. They might be able to help. This won't take much time or effort (certainly not the 2 - 3 YEARS for accounting). It is SAFE. There are no down sides. Why aren't you doing this?

2. Talk to accountants and find out what they actually spend their time doing.

See if you can assist in some way. Make sure before you start that it is a fit for you. Do it NEXT WEEK

3. Think about what you like doing and what you don't, what you liked about your course and what you didn't, why you went to China and why you regret it, what you like and hate about your current job, and brainstorm what work actually appeals to you. Will you get this from accounting, or will it be another dead end? Brainstorm what you actually want to do. Do it the FOLLOWING WEEK.

By the end of this time, you might have a better understanding of yourself, and a good answer to your question.

phred

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community colleges, while cheaper, don't offer enough accounting classes to fulfill the education requirements.  Definitely start there with the understanding you'll finish elsewhere

mozar

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« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 11:51:13 AM by mozar »

Joggernot

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Make yourself an Excel sheet.  Start with some number that you have on hand, e.g., $4000.  Compare what happens if you invest that money at 6% for 15 years with compound interest against spending that same money on an education that gets you a certificate or 2-year degree over 4 years.  At the end of the 4 years you get a $15,000 raise because you make use of your two degrees, so from year 5 through 15 you make $15,000 more that you can save or spend.  If you invest it, you will find that you are money ahead by getting the certificate/degree than just investing what you have.  Play with the numbers to see where the break even point is, etc.

When I went to college there weren't any computers, so I went back and got a 2-year Computer Science degree on my own time and money.  It has paid back very well, in one case because the contract required our company to have someone with a computer background, and my CS degree made me indispensable...instant raise time.

Cpa Cat

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CPA cat would you say it would be beneficial to take a graduate program in accounting to pass the CPA or increase my future earnings potential as an accountant?

The general consensus is that no - getting a Masters Degree does not increase your earning potential in public accounting. It MAY increase your earning potential in private accounting (industry) - because graduate degrees are a higher priority in private accounting than a CPA (but you can close this gap with experience). In public accounting, the only thing that matters is the CPA. People get a Macc because most accounting students need an additional 30 hours to sit for the exam, so it makes sense to just transition into a 1 year Macc program.

If you insist on doing a graduate program, apply directly to one. Do not waste time filling out undergrad requirements first. You should be able to fill out your undergrad requirements while in a graduate program and you will likely be allowed to take prereqs concurrently as a non-traditional student with permission from your graduate adviser. At the least, the graduate adviser can tell you the minimum requirements to enter the program and the fastest way to complete them.

The primary advantage to a MAcc program would be this: If you take it at the right university, you will gain access to on-campus recruiting and internship opportunities. I think there is a reasonable argument to make that it may be worth an additional tuition investment simply for that. Set up a meeting to talk to an adviser at a MAcc program prior to doing anything and emphasize your need for a fast-tracked timeline.

But understand - you can do this more cheaply if you skip the MAcc. You can gain access to on campus recruiting by taking a single class at a campus where firms are present. Ask the university career services/MAcc adviser for a list of firms that recruit on the campus.

Also - if you choose to enter a graduate program, feel free to look for jobs as soon as you are CPA eligible. You can always finish the MAcc later - usually on the firm's dime. Make sure you understand and focus on the precise education requirements in your state. Make sure you take the classes that fill those requirements.

A Masters degree will give you more options, so it's not something I would discourage completely - but personally I think you're better off getting into a firm and having them pay for your CPA review course AND for any part of a Masters degree that you have remaining after being CPA eligible.

And always remember to ask if you can skip a prereq or take classes concurrently. You aren't a traditional student. You don't always have to accept the same timeline that 18 year olds do. All it takes is a signature and a permission code from someone in your department.

One thing I would put money on though - whatever path you choose, accounting has a good ROI. You might hate it. But you won't be unemployed. My own MAcc program has something like a 95% pre-graduation job placement rate - and it's not even a top rated program. It would give you options - I know some people who went into Big Oil accounting with just a MAcc (no CPA) instead of public accounting and make serious bank compared to their CPA counterparts.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2014, 06:36:32 PM by Cpa Cat »

Cressida

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community colleges, while cheaper, don't offer enough accounting classes to fulfill the education requirements.  Definitely start there with the understanding you'll finish elsewhere

This is a good point, actually. Most community colleges don't offer upper-division courses, a few of which are required to qualify for the exam. But, that's *most*. *Some* do. North Seattle is one, and some of their courses are online (meaning you don't have to live in WA to take them). Or at least, they were a few years ago.

HopetoFIRE

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Not a CPA and not sure what the current requirements are, but am married to a CPA.  Agree with above to looking into what are the minimum requirements for sitting for exam.  DH graduated from a good public U in business econ with minor in accounting.  So, a full major may not be necessary.  Also look into what sector you want to work in (tax, audit, etc) and talk to someone in that field to see exactly what they do.  DH went into audit with one of the Big Fours and stayed until senior manager level.  Big Four just was not for our family due to time commitment.  By the time he was SM though, we found that it was too restricting for his career.  He didn't have the skills necessary for the upper level management position at a private firm (although it was also during the recession).  Contemplated getting a masters, but decided it was not going to increase his pay much.  Now he is a senior consultant making mid 100k.  I think that's pretty good for a B.A.  His friend is probably making similar if not a little more with the Big Four right now, same degree.  I definitely think accounting can be a lucrative field and may be worth the additional loans, but really depends on what you do.

ETA: he's been in the field 13 years
« Last Edit: May 31, 2014, 07:27:18 PM by HopetoFIRE »

phred

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If you insist on doing a graduate program, apply directly to one. Do not waste time filling out undergrad requirements first. You should be able to fill out your undergrad requirements while in a graduate program

If she takes the lower level accounting as part of a Master's, won't she be charged the higher grad school tuition rates?

Also, she may need to audit first year accounting because she's been away from it for so long.  Does she have time to also be studying for GRE/GMAT?

mm1970

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No!  Why are you not now using your international business degree?  Any ninth grader can be a receptionist.  What happened?
Eh...maybe in reality, but not anymore from a practical standpoint.  My company requires a bachelor's degree to be our receptionist.  Then again, it's a feeder into our accounting department.

mm1970

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If you want to go the accounting route, take the requisite courses (at least a few) at a local community college.  Do not borrow money for this.

Lot of good recommendations here.

My sister went to school nights to get her accounting degree.  Does your job offer tuition reimbursement?  If they don't, I'd consider looking for one that does.  Mine does, for example.  So our receptionist could go to school and take accounting classes and we would pay for quite a bit of it.

Cpa Cat

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If you insist on doing a graduate program, apply directly to one. Do not waste time filling out undergrad requirements first. You should be able to fill out your undergrad requirements while in a graduate program

If she takes the lower level accounting as part of a Master's, won't she be charged the higher grad school tuition rates?

Also, she may need to audit first year accounting because she's been away from it for so long.  Does she have time to also be studying for GRE/GMAT?

Yes. And like I said in my first post, I'm in favor of her doing it in the cheapest way possible, rather than pursuing an entire degree. But if she's going to quit her job and go full time, then instead of doing it in the cheapest way, then she should do it in the quickest way. The lost income potential of extending the process by additional semester is too high. Every 6 months that she delays is worth around $25,000 in salary. Saving a couple of hundred dollars - or even a couple of thousand dollars - isn't worth it.

She should instead get into school for the fall semester and immediately apply for January internships (busy season in accounting), which will pay her more than she makes now and probably secure her a full time offer.

phred

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In this day & age, it is easier to find a new job if you're holding down an old job.  So, college the year around at night while keeping the day job.

mlipps

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community colleges, while cheaper, don't offer enough accounting classes to fulfill the education requirements.  Definitely start there with the understanding you'll finish elsewhere

This is a good point, actually. Most community colleges don't offer upper-division courses, a few of which are required to qualify for the exam. But, that's *most*. *Some* do. North Seattle is one, and some of their courses are online (meaning you don't have to live in WA to take them). Or at least, they were a few years ago.

You can do them all at my local community college, Oakton Community College, too. They offer them all online & charge in district rates for the online courses. Dirt cheap. It depends what you want to do with the degree, but it can be a good way to fulfill the course requirements for next to nothing.

Cpa Cat

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In this day & age, it is easier to find a new job if you're holding down an old job.  So, college the year around at night while keeping the day job.

This isn't necessarily true for CPA candidates at the start of their careers. Firms overwhelmingly recruit first-time associates from their intern pools. It can sometimes be difficult for candidates to get their foot in the door without an internship.

Interns are primarily hired through on-campus recruiting. First-time accountants who are taking non-traditional routes often struggle to get face-to-face with recruiters without access to on-campus interviews. Recruiting events happen in the daytime and cater to a traditional student schedule.

I want to reiterate that Another 71 would be a good resource for the OP. It is a forum specifically for CPA candidates, so it's full of people who have been in the OP's shoes. No one over there will discourage you from becoming a CPA, but they can offer good advice on how to proceed.

ch12

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In this day & age, it is easier to find a new job if you're holding down an old job.  So, college the year around at night while keeping the day job.

This isn't necessarily true for CPA candidates at the start of their careers. Firms overwhelmingly recruit first-time associates from their intern pools. It can sometimes be difficult for candidates to get their foot in the door without an internship.

Interns are primarily hired through on-campus recruiting. First-time accountants who are taking non-traditional routes often struggle to get face-to-face with recruiters without access to on-campus interviews. Recruiting events happen in the daytime and cater to a traditional student schedule.


Yes, you need to be able to talk to the recruiters. No, recruiting events definitely do not exclusively happen in the daytime. I can't count the nights when some friendly company paid for my dinner in order to get me to listen to their company pitch and why it's so great to work for them. At the time, I was going to be an accountant and was applying for accounting internships. There's a serious demand for accountants.

The concern I'd have would be that the company visits would conflict with your evening classes, not that you wouldn't get the opportunity at all to go to them.

Cpa Cat

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Yes, you need to be able to talk to the recruiters. No, recruiting events definitely do not exclusively happen in the daytime. I can't count the nights when some friendly company paid for my dinner in order to get me to listen to their company pitch and why it's so great to work for them. At the time, I was going to be an accountant and was applying for accounting internships. There's a serious demand for accountants.

Sorry. Yeah. I should have been more clear. No, they do not exclusively happen in the daytime. I meant to say that they happen on a daytime student's schedule. It would be pretty rare to end up at an evening event without first having made a daytime contact and received an invitation.

I mean... you generally don't just run into accounting recruiters while our for dinner, where they sit down, pay for your meal and talk to you about opportunities.

The reality is that students with a traditional daytime on-campus class schedule have a much easier time making contacts and getting interviews. That's just how the recruiting drives work. It is by no means impossible to get hired as an accountant while working full time and going to community college. It's absolutely possible, but it won't fall into your lap like it might if you were taking the more common approach. A traditional accounting student pretty much has to be a total social misfit to not end up with a job. A non-trad with a non-trad schedule often has to try a lot harder.

ch12

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Yes, you need to be able to talk to the recruiters. No, recruiting events definitely do not exclusively happen in the daytime. I can't count the nights when some friendly company paid for my dinner in order to get me to listen to their company pitch and why it's so great to work for them. At the time, I was going to be an accountant and was applying for accounting internships. There's a serious demand for accountants.

Sorry. Yeah. I should have been more clear. No, they do not exclusively happen in the daytime. I meant to say that they happen on a daytime student's schedule. It would be pretty rare to end up at an evening event without first having made a daytime contact and received an invitation.

The reality is that students with a traditional daytime on-campus class schedule have a much easier time making contacts and getting interviews. That's just how the recruiting drives work. It is by no means impossible to get hired as an accountant while working full time and going to community college. It's absolutely possible, but it won't fall into your lap like it might if you were taking the more common approach. A traditional accounting student pretty much has to be a total social misfit to not end up with a job. A non-trad with a non-trad schedule often has to try a lot harder.

I agree with most of this, but your recruiting experience must've been a lot different from mine. At my school, I just put my resume into the pool and sent it to different accounting firms. When they came on campus, they invited me to dinner while running a presentation about what they did. There was no daytime contact as such - those dinners were the first in person contact.