Reluctant accountant career advice

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  • #2421627 Reply

    Hello all,

    I recently found this forum while doing some research on the CPA and CMA exams. I am hoping that I can get some advice on the best way to proceed with my accounting career. I am 46 years old and married with two kids (4 and 10). As for educational/work background:

    1) I graduated with a BS Accounting back in 1994 (Jesus 25 years ago!). Unfortunately I did not sit for the CPA exam back then when I had no responsibilities and all the time in the world, but that's life sometimes. My reasoning was I had no interest in going into public accounting so why bother. Yes I know now that was very short sighted for career growth and marketability, but as my post title says I was a reluctant accountant.

    2) I started out with an accounting clerk job doing AP (fun fun) and then moved to a few Staff Accountant roles. I decided to go back to school for Physical Therapy which lasted a year when I decided that going into private school debt for PT was not a good financial/career plan.

    3) Back to accounting where I had a solid 10 year run with a private software company that was acquired by a large public analytics company. I started as a Senior Accountant and progressed to Accounting Manager, Finance Manager and finally Director of Revenue where I was making six figures. I pretty much hated the Director role since I was managing a remote team and had to deal with lots of corporate politics. My role got eliminated in a finance reorg and I took some time off for kid #2 and to flip houses (which I had been doing for several years on the side).

    4) The foreclosure market dries up in my area and I only flip one house in a year so back to the grind (my severance only lasted so long). I did a brief stint as an accountant for a small startup working remote (which was not a good fit for me) and got laid off when funding dried up. I have since worked several contract positions as I am “in transition” as the recruiters I am working with like to say.

    5) Despite quite a few Accounting Manager and Controller positions in my area, I cannot seem to get an interview. A lot of those and even Senior Accountant positions now want a CPA with some public experience. That ain't me so I seemed to be screwed unless I get my CPA despite my experience. My wife has a lot of contacts so I have tried to utilize those but nothing has panned out as of yet.

    So here I am now trying to get back in the game. The contract work is not bad since my wife has great insurance but I feel like I can do better both in terms of comp, challenging work and growth. So I have recently thought about getting my CPA and/or CMA to help me get into a position commensurate with my experience. From the little that I have read here on the forum it seems my best bet would be to get the CPA to increase my chances of securing a full time position and then possibly the CMA to add to my marketability.

    I could just continue the contract/consultant route but I don't know that I would like that for a long term strategy. I also think I am limited even in those roles without a CPA or CMA.

    Any advice from the forum on a good plan moving forward?

    Many thanks,


    #2471406 Reply

    I am older & getting my CPA, but the challenging part will be taking a drastic pay cut in order to get the work experience.

    Besides using your (or your wife's contacts), you could try more consulting such as Upwork. Also, I would start looking seriously at nonprofits. Most people frown upon them but I think that is because the accounting is more intense. From my experience, nonprofits pay less but people are happier.

    #2471922 Reply
    Jimmy Dugan

    With your experience, you should be able to get a staff accountant role even without a CPA. I wouldn't stop working on the CPA, but keep grinding with the recruiters and answering job ads. I know it is demoralizing but something will pan out eventually.

    AUD - 95
    BEC - 87
    FAR - 84
    REG - 90
    You're killing me Smalls


    #2472036 Reply

    I think that you just haven’t found the right company yet. Having the CPA would be nice but I don’t think it is worth your time to pursue it at this point in your career.
    Submit your resume to every manager position in your area and every higher position that directly aligns with your previous experience. You are eventually going to submit your resume to someone who has a real pain point and needs a person and they are not going to care if you have a CPA certificate, but will be happy you have experience.
    Once you get an interview tell them that you are qualified to sit for the exam and are willing to finish it if the CPA is that big of a deal.

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

    All 4 passed - 2016

    CA CPA

    #2472528 Reply

    Most places want a CPA or someone with years of experience in public..sorry but you chose the easy path in life and are now paying for it..even still you seem to be trying to make excuses for not doing the CPA, dealing with many controllers who are not CPAs and have never worked in Public, they are utterly clueless when it comes to a lot of things. Most are glorified bookkeepers or payroll managers.

    That said if you have 10 years experience in this job market I struggle to find how you cannot find a it you cannot find a job…or you cannot find one that pays 6 figures that you seem to think you are entitled to..2% unemployment with 10 years of accounting experience..spare me the sob story that nobody will hire you for a Sr accountant position..that pays 60-70k.

    #2477151 Reply

    There is nothing wrong with pursing the CPA at your age. There are others older than you and have success. Discipline is going to be the key. Energy, strength and determination to pass this exam. You have a young family and they need you to have a career will last. So go for it, put the work in it and enjoy the results. Hey, and let us Ninjas know how your journey is going. We love to read about success stories. (at least I do)

    It begins with a 75
    Been here too long as a cheerleader.....time to pass
    #2477307 Reply

    I am not sure if you are aware but most states now require 150 to be licensed as a CPA, some states you can still be grandfathered in under the 120 hours, but you would have had to apply to sit before 2009 (August 1, 2009 in NY).
    You mentioned that you only have a BS so this might be a roadblock to your current course of action.
    What state are you in?

    Memento Mori - Kingston NY CPA & EA (SUNY Albany 2002)

    FAR-93 11/9/17 (10wks, 250 hrs, Roger 1800+ MCQs, Gleim TB 600+MCQs, SIMs)
    AUD-88 12/7/17 (3 wks, 85 hrs, Roger 1000 MCQs no SIMs hail mary)
    REG-96 1/18/18 (6 wks, 110 hrs, 1400 MCQs, no SIMs)
    BEC-91 2/16/18 (4wks, 90 hrs, 1240 MCQs)

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