MBA, CPA, Graduate Certificate, or Associates in Accounting

CPA Exam Review CPA Exam Forum Off-Topic & CPA Exam Misc OT: Off Topic MBA, CPA, Graduate Certificate, or Associates in Accounting

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    Hello Everyone,

    I'm needing some advice/guidance, but a little about myself first: I live in New Mexico. I'm 31. I have an undergraduate degree in sociology and a Masters in Criminal Justice. I haven't been able to do much in my field besides some social services work for the State of New Mexico. However, I do have about four years of job experience working on the business side things (not with the state).

    I'm looking to make a transition to accounting. My goal is to work for the State of New Mexico, and maybe, to work for the federal government down the road.

    I've been contemplating getting an MBA with a concentration in Accounting, a post graduate certificate in accounting, which will hopefully lead to CPA, an associates in accounting, or a graduate certificate in accounting.

    The reason I'm reluctant about the MBA is because of the money to pay for another masters. I have student loans from my first masters, so I'm not wanting to go more in debt.

    The state typically requires very little for entry level accounting jobs and will typically intertwine experience and education in order to be qualified for positions.

    If anyone can offer some words of wisdom on what would be the best route, most advantageous, and cost effective, I would truly appreciate it!



    my two cents only: in accounting, CPA designation is essentially golden. Master is nice tho if you are working towards accounting unit requirements and you stumble on a program that knocks two birds with one stone (get masters + eligible for the license), then that would be great. I say work with your future school to lay out this foundation. So i say eye on the prize is that CPA since even after you get in a state job, the CPA designation goes a long way after even if you decide to go private industry. So in short, if your goal is to get a masters, i say tailor that and make sure by the end of your educational journey that you have a license as well. I've worked in accounting/tax over a decade and one thing is constant = CPA is essentially a must to really go far. the Masters helps when you are at management level or whether people are deciding if you are worthy of a candidate to be promtoed to management. But usually for state, i would think CPA would be more than enough. For industry since its extra competitive, experience and CPA wins out……..the masters in my opinion is a nice bonus. Without CPA is where it starts to be limiting.

    Good luck!!!!!!!

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    @physicx87 Good luck! Have you done WorkKeys with Department of Workforce Solutions? One thing to consider is New Mexico's residency requirement. I hope you work under a CPA because the State Board requires a year in a seven year range to be licensed. That may seem pretty simple, but it's worth having that out of the way. If you're able to join a society or get another license, that may help, too like the ABQ IMA (or other local IMA) or the AICPA and/or the NMSCPA. You should network as much as possible. It sounds like you're experienced. I am planning to get QuickBooks ProAdvisor Certified after this week. Only 7-17 or so hours of continuing education, and I could do bookkeeping experience year round. That's probably as good as my tax business. It seems anyone can be an AFSP (18 hours of ce).

    I applied some with the State of New Mexico. I have an interview with my county and a CPA firm that I really like so far Friday after my REG exam, which I'm doing my Sample Test for at the AICPA. I'm in a similar position. I wonder if my MBA in HR or MA in Psych or BA in Business are worth much, not having a real accounting degree but sitting for the CPA Exam. You found a good forum at Another71 with some good folks. Tune in to the podcasts. There's some good ones.

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    If your goal is pure accounting, then CPA is the gold standard.

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    Set a few hours and write your goals out and why you're thinking that way. Really understand the direction you're headed and the commitment you're asking of yourself.

    Start something low risk; cost and time wise. 3 months $100 bucks. Google search “Online Accounting Course.” They're typically cheap and provide a generic certificate of completion. If it jives with you, go big and commit. No half measures.

    Good luck

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    He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.

    Lao Tzu



    Honestly, your best bet is to enroll in an accredited community college for undergrad accounting degree. I dont think you can even go for masters in accounting without pre-requisites (assuming you had no significant business schooling in arts and sciences). So this may not even be an option until you are qualified.
    You could test out of areas by taking CLEP to get college credits and fulfill any remaining areas by taking online courses (probably like $500 bucks a class). You could do this to knock out any pre-requisites to get qualified for accounting masters and then do a masters program through a community college.
    IMO, you need a full-blown accounting education to pass the CPA exams in a reasonable amount of time (2-3 years from now). Make sure the program you take fulfills the state education requirements. Your prior degree in Arts & Sciences won't really count towards the CPA. And the CPA exam is no joke. You need to take intermediate & advanced financial accounting, taxation of individuals and corporations, cost accounting, business contracts, supply chain & business management, auditing & attestation, to name a few. All of the aforementioned course content is tested on the CPA exam.
    Do not work for the state! Go for public accounting for 2-4 years, get CPA license, then you can go Federal, say to the FBI as forensic accountant (assuming you can pass SCI security clearance). Forensic accountants for the FBI make good money and great pension.


    Not sure about NM but NY offers civil service exams to be placed on the eligible candidate list.
    I am not sure you even need a degree in accounting to land a state job in the field. Look into the civil service exams first.
    Masters and/or CPA seems overkill to land a government job.

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

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