Taking the CPA exam after years in the workforce
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October 20, 2010 at 12:02 am #158914
For those considering the CPA exam after years in the accounting field (or another field altogether), what professional or personal benefits do you expect the CPA process, learnings, and title to bring to you? And how are you evaluating the cost of test prep, the time investment, impact on family, etc. versus the benefits of having your CPA?
Thanks!October 20, 2010 at 1:06 am #255230
Hi there, and welcome to the forum!
I am a non-traditional CPA exam candidate, if you will. I earned my associate degree in accounting in 1992, worked in the field for a while, and then completed my bachelor of science in public accounting in 1998. I worked in the field for some time, and eventually accepted an adjunct accounting teaching position at a local college. I soon found that I wanted to make a position in education my life’s work. So, I completed my master of business administration degree with an emphasis in accounting several years ago and was hired for a full-time faculty position.
I initially chose not to take the CPA exam after college because I really didn’t want to work in public accounting. So, I thought it wouldn’t be that valuable a designation for me. I later regretted that decision and considered sitting for the exam many times. I even purchased some of the Gleim materials. Unfortunately, I was overwhelmed with the content, and at that time, all four parts of the exam were tested at once (and offered only twice a year).
The nagging feeling of wanting to get my CPA continued to visit me, and when I learned that IFRS will be included starting in 2011 (and BEC modified also), that was all I needed to motivate me to do this once and for all. I have been qualified to sit for this exam for years and never felt it was a good time to do the work, and I wondered whether there would be any benefit. I have never regretted bettering myself or pursuing further education.
Anyway, here I am studying for my final section (BEC), which I plan to sit for next month. I am using Becker’s materials, and I paid for them out-of-pocket. I decided to bite the bullet and go with the best review course. I have purchased Gleim and Bisk in the past, but I must say that Becker does a great job of teaching and condensing the content for effective use of time. I am married with two boys, and my youngest has special needs. I work full-time plus, so it’s worth the cost to minimize study time and pass the first time. So far, I’ve passed with flying colors, and if all goes well, I’ll have passed all four sections on the first try in less than six months. Along with the regular Becker course, I also bought the flashcards, which were very helpful for theory topics especially. I did not buy their final review, as I couldn’t justify the added expense or time. I have my own way of bringing everything together for the final weeks before the exam.
It hasn’t been easy, espeically balancing work, family and study time, but I have a supportive family. My hubby insisted that I get a laptop so I could take my studying on the go or to a quiet room in the house. It wasn’t an easy decision to do this. As you must know, it’s an all-or-nothing endeavor. I talked with my family about it, and with their support, I was able to press forward. I scheduled my exams tightly, as I wanted to hold myself to a condensed time frame. I would rather study harder for a shorter amount of time. The sooner I’m done, the sooner I can get back to my normal family routine.
For me the CPA credential pursuit is a personal and professional goal. I think it will give me more credibility in my profession and increase my effectiveness as an instructor. Personally, it’s a challenge and achievement I know I’ll never regret.
I hope this is helpful, and I’d love to hear about your background. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one tackling this later in the game.
JanOctober 20, 2010 at 2:11 am #255231
50champ – I feel it is never to late to get your CPA. I received my CPA license this Mar 2010 at the age of 49. A little background, I spent 20+ years (1979-2000) in the Army in a finance field nothing to do with accounting. Received my Bachelors in Information System Management in 1990, Master of Science in Accounting and Information Technology in 2009. I initially decided to better my promotion potentional by getting my CPA, I am now a government accountant. My sole benefit was I felt I could not get promoted without it at my level. However the effect of obtaining your CPA certificatin vs cost, time, effort, family and other factors can only be measured by your goals. Obtaining my CPA gave me increased creditability among my peers, supervisor and co-workers. Cost was not an issue for me as my employer paid for all review material and had on-site Becker classes during normal work hours. However the time investment and impact on my family was huge. I could not have obtain my CPA without the support of my wife for I work full time and have 6 children ages 4-13. My wife took care of the household duties while I hibernated in my office re-watching Becker lectures and doing several thousand multiple choice questions per section. However, once complete the journey was well worth the sacrifices made and I and my family are better for it. I have very little public accounting experience mostly governmental so having practical work experience can only help you. Best of Luck and this forum is a great place to troll for answer and talk to fellow CPA candidates experiencing the same things you are.October 20, 2010 at 1:25 pm #255232
I am fresh out of college and decided to do it to open up some doors and I did 150 credit hours in college with the intent of getting my CPA. You never know what may happen with your current job and having the designation gives you a little piece of mind to know you will have a better chance if you were thrown back out there and had to look for other work.
Another strong motivator for getting it done was the prestige, so when people asked me what I do I don’t have to say tax and assurance services or “accountant”. I can say “CPA” and that just rolls off the tongue pretty nice imo!October 20, 2010 at 6:32 pm #255233
I don’t work in public accounting and graduated a decade ago. I went back for my CPA to give me options in case of a layoff and just for the closure of finishing it.October 22, 2010 at 7:02 pm #255234
I graduated with my BA in Long Term Care Administration in December of 2001. Didn’t go into that field, but just being able to list BA on my resume definitely helped. I went into the insurance industry instead dabbling on the underwriting side (life, crop and then pc) and moved to the accounting side 5 1/2 years ago.
I finally found something I knew I would like to do for many years to come. Without even an accounting degree, I knew I wouldn’t move up too far. So in the fall of 2008, I headed back to college for a second major in accounting so that I could qualify for the CPA without having to spend more years in school for a MBA. (I am married, work full time and my son just turned 2 when I started back to school.)
I graduated earlier this year and started the live Becker classes before I finished my last college courses. I really wanted to try to tackle all four sections before the 2011 and definitely get through this whole thing before my son starts kindergarten next year.
My employer helped some with my college tuition, but I still came out with a good amount of student loans. They didn’t cover any of the costs for Becker or the exam, so that was all out of pocket for me.
Everyone’s situation is different and as stated by an earlier poster, it really all depends upon your own goals. The costs for me were worth it – the opportunities for advancement have greatly increased if I ever find myself job hunting whether by choice or economy. The family disruption? Well, that one is a tough one, but yes I think it will all be worth it in the end. Fortunately, my parents live close enough so that when I was in class and my husband was at work, my son got some valuable grandparents time. 🙂
Good luck with your decision!October 22, 2010 at 7:05 pm #255235
One more note on deciding not to do the MBA yet…I have been thinking about moving to corporate tax and our VP in that area said here they care more about a MBT than MBA. So I want to decide where I want to go next before planning my next educational goal.
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