Career advice for new CPA in CA

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  • #2880285 Reply
    alex-villalobos
    Participant

    So I just passed the CPA exam and have three years of public accounting experience (at a small firm, less than 15 employees) and I'm not sure what would be the next step in my career.

    I'm thinking that I should look for a bigger firm and do another two years of public accounting and then look for a good-paying job in corporate or government given that most of the good-paying jobs that I've seen out there look for people with at least 5 years of public accounting experience and a CPA license.

    On the other hand, I've been told by a few people, including job recruiters, that I have enough public accounting experience and should seek a job outside of public that pays $90k+ and to make it my career goal to eventually find a job with a publicly traded company.

    According to one job recruiter, the experience of working at a publicly traded company is comparable to the experience gained in public accounting. Is this true? I'm not too sure about that.

    Any advice?

    #2880678 Reply
    PuppykoalaPuppykoala
    Participant

    Hi Alex, I don't have multiple years of public accounting experience yet, but I do have a few years of industry experience (A fortune 150 tech company, publicly traded). I can tell you for sure that industry job is no where near the experience you gain from public accounting. Matter of fact, I hated my big corp job so bad I changed to big four. Big corp is good pay/benefit and job is not challenging. But I had nothing to learn and absolutely no progression opportunity. My experience with industry might be biased, however, I think if you can land a big four job, and stay with it for a few years, it will boost your career like crazy. But of course, company and company are different. I might just be with a bad company 🙂
    I understand why the recruiters will say that, if they are head hunts, cause they can't earn commissions from public accounting firms. End of the day, it depends on what you want in life.

    Shoot for the stars!

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    #2881938 Reply
    MaLoTu
    Participant

    I made the jump to private after 2.5 years in public. I was able to go straight into a senior role. Here are some things I can share based on observation:
    1. If you haven’t audited public companies you should. This was a huge selling point for me in my job search. If you don’t have public company experience it is going to be very hard to get into a public company (I am with a traded company). I don’t know if you have or not but it is a consideration.
    2. If you are not a senior now your chances of getting a senior role in industry are less likely. Once again not sure with your particular case.
    3. Growth is better in public accounting. You might start out at 90k (Bay Area?) but who knows what your increase will be and you might have to move companies to make it to the next level. This is unfortunate in many ways. If you go to a bigger firm and leave as manager you can almost guarantee starting out in industry as at least a manager.

    If you can provide some more specifics i think it will help people give you specific advice.

    Almost always from my phone... please excuse my typos!

    All 4 passed - 2016

    CA CPA

    #2885124 Reply
    alex-villalobos
    Participant

    @MaLoTu
    Im in Orange County, CA and I am a senior staff at my firm, but apparently other firms like big 4 and midsize like RSM don't think im at the senior level at their firms.

    Recruiters always reach out to me with senior level jobs and some manager level at small companies but I feel that taking one of those jobs, even though they pay great now ($85-$110k), its not gonna benefit me in the long run.

    #2885289 Reply
    MaLoTu
    Participant

    I would bite the bullet and go to a larger firm at the experienced staff level if you really feel that big 4 or large national experience is key to your overall goals.
    If you choose to go industry I would say that your growth will be slower but at the right company you will have many opportunities. I would be hesitant to take on a manager role with 3 years experience. I would advise to take a senior role at a start up type company to get the most learning.

    Almost always from my phone... please excuse my typos!

    All 4 passed - 2016

    CA CPA

    #2886183 Reply
    bigstakk
    Participant

    I worked for a mid sized national public accounting firm for 3 busy seasons and then jumped into private as a Fund Accountant for a mid sized private real estate investment company. I think what’s important is specializing in an industry. I worked for the commercial real estate practice at the CPA firm I worked for and that was key to landing in private in the same industry. 9 years in and I’ve worked my way up to VP, Corporate Controller making pretty decent money. You can manage the same kind of trajectory in your career in about the same time or even less. I am just now getting my CPA so you’re already a step closer. I do have a MAcc so that also helps. In short, figure out what kind of industry you’d like to work in and either get the experience in your current company or go to a different firm that will afford you that opportunity. I personally don’t have any interest in working for a public company and find that private companies are a great place to be since the reporting requirements are typically less stringent. Although I work for an RIA which has to be SEC compliant, but it’s still much less headache than a public company. My goal is to be a CFO of a similar size real estate firm which pays on the $250-450k range and I’m fine with that upside. If you want to work for a big public company you will most likely need Big 4 experience and public client experience. Good luck!

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