Over 50 and Thinking about Studying to Take the CPA Exam

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This topic contains 30 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  jdn9201 1 week ago.

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  • #201931

    Over50
    Participant

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm 51 years old, I have an MBA, I have been a financial Controller for over 15 years. I'm currently working but for the company from hell (actually even worse than that).

    I can't find a new position because I don't have a CPA license. I have been doing this work for years, successfully passed numerous Big $ audits for company's. Managing staff and operations, but without the little CPA designation recruiters and companies file my resume in the shredder.

    So…I am thinking about starting to study for the CPA exam. Do I have any advantage because of my experience? What is the success rate for candidates over 50?

    #775985

    happygal
    Participant

    Yes! Go for it! If you really want to do it and are willing to put in the time then go for it!!!! Your years of experience can only help you. I would suggest getting a review course that works for you by first trying the demos available for the different review courses (most allow you to demo them on their websites Roger, Wiley, Becker, Gleim and of course theres NINJA too, etc.), there are lots of videos on youtube as well regarding courses and advice so you can get a taste of whether you want to take the CPA exams and in what direction you want to take your CPA exam journey.
    Here's an inspirational story of a professor who decided later on in life to get his CPA designation. This story is only for inspiring purposes, not pressuring 🙂 One is never too old to grow and learn something new!
    http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2016/feb/cpa-exam-for-accounting-educators.html
    Best of luck to you going forward!

    #775986

    fivehurdles
    Participant

    Hi Over50,

    I'm 51. I'm studying for the exam for many of the same reasons you mention. My company failed back in 2010 and I ended up taking Controller positions at two pretty awful companies. I knew they were bad going in, but I didn't really have any other options. I've also had two stints as a contractor just barely “keeping the lights on” at home.

    I've got about six years where I have been severely impacted by my lack of a CPA. Things are better now jobwise, but I (and my family) went through some difficulties that we probably wouldn't have had to if I had just completed this years earlier. I've got a nice chunk of credit card debt as a reminder.

    I have three parts completed and only FAR remains for me. It's taken every night and every weekend for a year to get here. My advice — start now. The primary reason I have the job I have now is because I was heavily recommended by a former co-worker who I now work with once again. I wouldn't have gotten the job if I wasn't in the process of getting the CPA.

    I'm not sure what the success rate is but I've seen a number of “Over 50s” on these boards. I don't know if my experience helped me, but every exam is time consuming and generally awful. You'll need the support of your family and the NINJA MCQs (2000-3000 questions per section and reading the explanations is what is working for me). Good luck ! Back to studying…..

    #775987
    CPA50
    CPA50
    Participant

    I'll be 52 tomorrow 🙂 I'll be 52 whether or not I become a CPA 🙂 I found my memory isn't as good as it was, but I'm more patient. I find that studying for the understanding of a concept works best for me. Best wishes!! You can do this!


    3 years

    + 16 tests

    + 2 expired sections

    = DONE FOREVER!

    AUD - 80
    BEC - 77
    FAR - 80
    REG - 80
    #775988

    tncincy
    Participant

    @happygal, outstanding article….I am going to print it so I can read it over and over when I start to lose momentum. (which I did because of the Mother's day), but I can appreciate the information in this article.
    To add to the topic though, I am 51, I have run my own business for 20 years, the tax industry has changed and will change even more next year. I can agree with what was said about not having to suffer tough times if I only had this done a few years ago. My thoughts exactly. Well, I am currently encountering tough times , another very rough tax season this year is why I am on the MUST pass end of the cpa. As I thought about my life, and how my children are really grown, if I don't stop living for them I won't live. It's time for me to move forward with my dreams and desires and I am not taking no for an answer. Yes, I want to make more money, I want to experience being a CPA and I want the respect of a CPA. Tough times has definitely been a career game changer for me. So go for it, this is your chance to do what you want and you have A71 to cheer you on.


    It begins with a 75
    Been here too long as a cheerleader.....time to pass
    #775989

    BelowScope
    Participant

    NO KIDDING YOU'RE OVER 50, WHY DO YOU FEEL THE NEED TO YELL AT US WITH YOUR THREAD TITLE?

    #775990

    mla11692
    Participant

    The success rate for those over 50 is the same as any other demographic. If you stick with it you will pass. I think in some ways its easier with years of experience and in some ways its harder, but still completely manageable if you're committed to it.


    Old timer,  A71'er since 2010. Licensed since 2012-non reporting MA CPA.

    Finance manager/HR manager

     

     

    #775991

    Mayo
    Participant

    I'm probably in the minority, but I wholeheartedly recommend against it. With an MBA and all the years of experience you have….what makes you think a CPA will give you an edge? It won't and you'll just waste time and money.

    But you'll probably take it, so I guess all I can say is good luck because you'll need it.

    #775992

    ScarletKnightCPA
    Participant

    Going for an external position, I think it would definitely help. Recruiters identify key terms on a resume when gathering potential candidates. CPA is one of them.

    #775993

    mla11692
    Participant

    In industry generally the first few people to see and screen a resume are not accounting people at all and on paper to those HR people there are very few nuances when deciding whether to pass along or file a resume. So for the OP, they see a great job as a controller they'd like to apply to. Many other resumes are put to the bottom of the pile (recent grads, different industries,etc.) and that person is left with a pool of candidates who (a) have 10+ years experience, (b) have a grad degree and (c) list certain skills that are critical for that particular company like fixed assets or cost accounting. Lets say that leaves our HR person with 6 potential candidates.

    Of those 6, only two list that they have a CPA. Does it guarantee an offer? Not a chance. Could it put them higher priority on the prescreen list? Absolutely.

    Job searches are not conducted in a vacuum but hiring companies have very limited information to make interview decisions. I'm hiring a controller, I know 5 things about you. One of them is that you are a licensed CPA. I don't particularly NEED a CPA. However of the 5 other potential candidates the resume qualifications aside from that are fairly homogenous so I suddenly find you a bit interesting.

    Telling a highly educated and experienced professional they don't need a CPA is like telling a charming successful man they don't need to iron their shirt for a first date. It certainly can be the polishing touch that makes the impression that seals the deal.


    Old timer,  A71'er since 2010. Licensed since 2012-non reporting MA CPA.

    Finance manager/HR manager

     

     

    #775994

    IB553
    Participant

    @mla11692. I can see from your signature that you are CPA in MA. I am CPA exam candidate in MA. What are job prospects for CPA in MA?


    Licensed CPA in MA, OCT 2016
    #775995

    Mayo
    Participant

    “Job searches are not conducted in a vacuum but hiring companies have very limited information to make interview decisions. I'm hiring a controller, I know 5 things about you. One of them is that you are a licensed CPA. I don't particularly NEED a CPA. However of the 5 other potential candidates the resume qualifications aside from that are fairly homogenous so I suddenly find you a bit interesting.

    Telling a highly educated and experienced professional they don't need a CPA is like telling a charming successful man they don't need to iron their shirt for a first date. It certainly can be the polishing touch that makes the impression that seals the deal.”

    I agree with what you are saying, but I just think it's a really weird way to approach things. This person has over 15 years of experience. Surely, using their network is a better bet than applying in a massive job board or on the company website? Shouldn't that be the extreme last resort?

    The OP mentions recruiters, but how many has he/she talked to? Have they tapped their network? Checked on linkedin to see if any contacts have become recruiters or are working for a company looking to hire? I have a feeling that we're not really getting the whole story here, but I may be wrong. Still, getting a CPA in this situation reads to me like tearing down your door by hand because you accidentally locked yourself out. Why not try the back door? Maybe there's a key under the floor mat that you forgot about? Calling a locksmith?

    But I get it. We're on a CPA exam board. The advice makes sense I suppose. OP, I would really take what we all have to say with a grain of salt. With the exception of mla11692 and a few other posters, the general attitude here is always positive and encouraging even when it might not be the most honest feedback.

    I think you should really step back and think how much time and effort it would entail and if you've successfully exhausted all your options. Then, if you feel still like you need a CPA and that'd it be worth it then the best of luck to you. Not trying to be discouraging, but this board is littered with old threads of “I passed the CPA and stlll can't get a job”. Like I said earlier, Good Luck!

    #775996

    mla11692
    Participant

    Mayo I'm only speaking from personal experience as someone who also has 20+ years experience, a grad degree and now a cpa license, it made a difference in my own job search.


    Old timer,  A71'er since 2010. Licensed since 2012-non reporting MA CPA.

    Finance manager/HR manager

     

     

    #775997

    Mayo
    Participant

    Oh no. Not at all. Was just disagreeing is all. Your posts are always very informative.

    EDIT: I tend to be anti-certifications anyhow. I don't really feel they add as much value as some people tend to think. Type of experience and a strong network is always more important IMO. But the CPA can definitely be the clincher for specific situations. This one might be one as you've implied.

    #775998

    mla11692
    Participant

    Ib553- I think it depends. Was hard for me because of my age and no public experience. Just meant I had to work a bit harder at it but landed something great. I can tell you it's all about how much work you put into a search. I think it's likely stronger than in other regions.


    Old timer,  A71'er since 2010. Licensed since 2012-non reporting MA CPA.

    Finance manager/HR manager

     

     

    #775999

    mla11692
    Participant

    You know I'm with you there mayo on the certifications in general, people thinking they can compensate for limited experience by studying for another exam don't get it. But certs and experience each only go so far on their own and if you're in a candidate pool comprised mostly of CPA's you can be overlooked in some cases. Not sure I'd say most but a good number of management level candidates are going to be licensed nowadays even if it's not required.


    Old timer,  A71'er since 2010. Licensed since 2012-non reporting MA CPA.

    Finance manager/HR manager

     

     

    #776000
    CPA50
    CPA50
    Participant

    Having certifications can be VITAL when dealing with other professionals. I network with attorneys and doctors and they are probably more sensitive about referring their clients to another professional with a certification. There are many paths, Grasshopper. Choose the one that leads you to your own destination.


    3 years

    + 16 tests

    + 2 expired sections

    = DONE FOREVER!

    AUD - 80
    BEC - 77
    FAR - 80
    REG - 80
    #776001

    tncincy
    Participant

    The CPA is definitely more respected than certifications. It's like getting achievement awards in high school. I know, I know some of these certifications cost a pretty penny, but if you're gonna be, for example: a certified bookkeeper, certified tax preparer, or certified payroll specialist, you may as well take the cpa exam…..the respect and money is very different. Sure the certifications specialize in different areas with different depths, but the CPA will qualify for all of them and beyond. Even the EA.


    It begins with a 75
    Been here too long as a cheerleader.....time to pass
    #776002

    CPA2021
    Participant

    Do it, do it, do it (did I say do it!!). And being a late career professional means you'll be able to leverage the technical knowledge in a way you could never do just out of college. Just be prepared to be floored (not in a good way) by how much things have changed since we graduated.

    #776003
    monikernc
    monikernc
    Participant

    57 years young. try and stop me.


    Ninja book and MCQs and the forum, all the way!

    If you want things to change you have to do something different.

    AUD - 93
    BEC - 82
    FAR - 76
    REG - 88
    #776004

    tncincy
    Participant

    Hey I can go with that…..I feel so much energy….Why not over 50 🙂


    It begins with a 75
    Been here too long as a cheerleader.....time to pass
    #776005
    Amor D
    Amor D
    Participant

    Let's just all pass this thing together before the test changes in 2017.
    Ben Affleck is also cramming and crunching to pass his last section before the release of his movie (The Accountant) this coming October:)


    "But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded."
    (2 Chronicles 15:7)
    #776006
    mselaineous
    mselaineous
    Participant

    I'm in a similar situation at 43, with an MBA that has a concentration in Accounting. I've worked in industry for over 18 years. I've worked for some really great CFOs who didn't give a care that I didn't have a CPA designation because my skills spoke for me. I've worked in Controller & VP Finance roles for several $150MM + revenue companies. I decided to get my CPA for me and only for me. It's something that I always wanted to do but kept putting it on the back burner, but now is my time. I knocked FAR out in April, and have AUD at the end of May, REG in July and BEC in August.

    Your years of experience can only help you! I found it to be true myself as a lot of the situations that are covered in the sections I've seen/done/handled/been part of first hand in my career experience. The hardest thing for me has been to not read into the questions. It took me a bit to take off my work experience hat and put on my test hat. Once I did that, I read the question answered it based on only the info in the question. That helped me a ton. If you study and keep on it, you will pass. And get a good quality review course that fits your needs and your learning style. I use RogerCPAReview because his style synchs with my learning style and it's worked well.

    Go for it! If nothing else, getting your CPA is something that no one can take away from you. (unless in the case of a ethics violation!)

    #776007

    Allegra
    Participant

    Not QUITE 50 but closing fast! One of my bucket list things was to get my CPA before I turned 50. A serious downturn in my current industry pushed me even more. So, 4… er something, havent worked in accounting in years, and I managed to pass them all in one year while running my own (non related) business, with a 10 year old kid and (thankfully) a very supportive husband.

    Thats the good news.

    The bad news. It still aint easy to find a job. I live in a small town and cant move. No one wants to talk to me in public although Ive made clear Im willing to start at the bottom. Almost 7 months now since getting my license and not even one interview. 🙁 Sucks. So yeah getting a CPA is not the end all and be all.


    Allegra
    VA CPA
    LinkedIn
    #776008

    6silvermoonbeams
    Participant

    @over50: Make the decision to do this, and go all in. This test is about stamina, commitment and never giving up. I had tax experience and my degree is in economics – those both helped in BEC and REG.

    You came to the right place to learn more about the exams and meet other folks who are going through this with you. Best of luck to you and please keep us all posted. I passed the exams last December, but Jeff (A71 founder) and everyone here were so helpful as I got through it that I occasionally come back to chime in and help. Having the CPA license is AWESOME!!


    Whether you believe you can, or you believe you can't, you're right. - Henry Ford
    AUD - 75
    BEC - 77
    FAR - 81
    REG - 82
    #776009

    anmore
    Participant

    I think we need a forum for us 50 year olds! I actually turn 50 in a few months and have decided to take BEC as soon as possible. Hoping to knock this out in a year. Good luck to you Over50!

    #1479247

    tncincy
    Participant

    Birthday coming soon, still have not passed this exam, BUT…I printed the article “why are you not a CPA?. I've read it again just to regain momentum. Yes, I am struggling again. But so what, I'll get it one of these days.


    It begins with a 75
    Been here too long as a cheerleader.....time to pass
    #1480050

    SeattleCPA
    Participant

    Maybe someone else pointed this out and I missed it, but here's one thing I would say…

    If you think you might work in public accounting, you want to get the CPA. You can't become an owner and you can't do some of the work without a CPA. E.g., you can't do comps, reviews, audits… and you can't (unless you're an attorney or EA) get power of attorney for IRS representation.

    Note: Your odometer mileage in business can be a huge advantage if you do end up public accounting serving businesses. Which is relevant because you want to focus on businesses and not individuals if you're working in a CPA firm.


    I don't really remember my CPA exam scores. I've been a CPA for decades... I run a three CPA firm in Redmond WA. I'm the author of a bunch of books about small business accounting including QuickBooks for Dummies and Quicken for Dummies.
    #1480155

    Allegra
    Participant

    UPDATE to my post above – I did get a job in 2017 and the owner of the company that hired me as a controller specifically told me that having a CPA license was a large part of his decision – that he had been getting resumes from all kinds of accounting people but very few had a CPA license and he binned those immediately. so….


    Allegra
    VA CPA
    LinkedIn
    #1491769

    tncincy
    Participant

    Congrats Allegra, very good news…..so yes, cpa in later years does pay off. Keep striving ninja's


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