• Why Bother Becoming A CPA? A Guest Post From Roger Philipp

    By • Mar 18th, 2009 • Category: Pure Content, Your Career

    Roger Philipp, CPA, is a Deloitte alum and the founder, CEO, and instructor for Roger CPA Review, a CPA Exam prep course. Roger CPA Review supports re: The Auditors as our first sponsor. I asked him to tell us, in a time of uncertainty, why passing the CPA exam (or whatever certification exam is applicable in your country) is still a great investment.

    (I’ll give you one good reason:  No one can ever take that accomplishment away from you.)

    To begin, we’ll just break down the question itself: Why bother becoming a CPA? The very nature of that question implies that the act of becoming a CPA is a “bother,” or an irritating chore. Why do we see it that way? Common obstacles to getting a CPA license include the difficulty and cost of taking the CPA Exam, itself.

    Not surprisingly, these are the main reasons why only about half of accounting students choose to go on to become CPAs. However, neither of these reasons should be enough to hold you back from this exciting and lucrative career choice.

    Difficulty: It’s Not As Hard As You Think
    Candidates imagine the CPA Exam to be far more difficult than it actually is. That’s not to say that the exam is easy — far from it. In fact, according to the AICPA, only about 47% of candidates pass the CPA Exam. But it’s important to note that the main cause of the low pass rate can be directly attributed to inadequate studying. Furthermore, out of the students who continue their attempts to the CPA Exam, as many as 75% percent eventually pass. In short, with the right commitment and preparation, it can be done. As we at Roger like to say, the CPA Exam is not an IQ test – it’s a test of discipline! If you study, you will pass!

    Cost: Earning Your CPA Makes Cents
    For many, cost is the decisive factor when a person considers becoming a CPA. There’s no question about it: it’s an expensive proposition. The good news is that you don’t have to shoulder the full cost all at once. The costs arrive in stages, beginning with college tuition and ending with CPA license fees.

    Additionally, your initial investment will pay off quickly. Once you are a licensed CPA, your entry level earning potential increases by as much as 15% over uncertified accounting professionals (2008 Robert Half Salary Guide). This gap can continue increasing over the course of your career, eventually adding as much as $11k-$18k more to your annual earnings.

    According to a recent report by the Institute of Management Accountants, the average CPA earns $131,726 per year before extra compensation while non-CPAs only earn $98,912. This is a difference of 32,814 or 28.5% higher.
    To reinforce the point, let’s perform a cost/benefit analysis of becoming a CPA.

    Bachelors Degree with 150 hours (in most states)
    300-400 hours preparing for the CPA Exam
    CPA Exam Fees (more than $1,000 in some states, more if retesting is required)
    CPA review course costs ($1,600 – $2,500 depending on course)
    Licensure fees (more than $1,000 in some states)

    Time commitment: 450-550 hours
    Financial commitment: $4500 or more, depending on exam success and state fees.

    Increased earning potential of up to $18,000 per year. Duration: grows annually
    Potential employers perceive CPA’s to be disciplined and committed. Duration: entire career
    Potential for advancement opportunities and management or partnership. Duration: entire career
    Personal growth and development. Duration: life
    Business opportunities not available to uncertified accountants, such as financial consultancy, signing audit opinions, working for the FBI, or providing independent accounting services to the public.

    As much as $720,000 (assuming a 40 year career, with an 18k of increased annual income)
    Inestimable value of other benefits

    Many accountants currently working with firms will tell you that they’re driven to take the CPA exam by the prospect for promotions. Because most firms won’t promote uncertified accountants past the managerial level, your ‘promote-ability’ skyrockets once you’ve become a licensed CPA. Of course, with promotions come even more salary increases and bonuses.

    As you can see, becoming a CPA enhances your earning potential and upward mobility over the course of your entire career. The question shouldn’t be whether you can afford to become a CPA, but rather can you afford not to?

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    66 Responses »

    1. Why not? Because during the current crisis, the profession may have lost any credibility it had left after Enron et all. Give me a going concern before it is fiat accompli.

    2. “(I’ll give you one good reason: No one can ever take that accomplishment away from you.)” <- missing the vital disclaimer, unless you get disbarred for gross ethical violations, right? :p

      Eh, anon1, credibility for many other people took a much larger hit than that of CPAs. The whole Washington establishment and loosey goosey banks, for starters.

    3. These days, passing the exam is the easy part. The experience requirment is what may end up being the hurdle that keeps me from doing it.

    4. “the average CPA earns $131,726 per year before extra compensation while non-CPAs only earn $98,912″

      Can you cite this with a link from the IMA? Where is the *average* non-CPA pulling $100k?

    5. I think the average is all CPA’s (which would include partners, senior managers etc. Rest assured the starting salary for CPA’s – even in the Big Four still hovers between 45-55K based on geographical locale. So while you may not be earning 131K tomorrow, that’s the beauty of hope. For a greener wallet…

    6. Why not? My experience as a female is that the profession is ruthless with repect to required working hours, and the compensation does not come close making up for the hours away from family, the sacrifices, and the professional risk undertaken. It is especially brutal for working moms. I ve spent 25 years in the profession, raised my kids, and barely reached the “average” of 130,000. This was only after I left the hallowed halls of the CPA firms and went on my own. While “incarcerated”, I had to endure comments like”women dont bleed for the firm”, and even lost my first job of 7 years due to the birth of my first child. Greed in the accounting profession is just as bad as wall street. The difference is, they dont pay their people as well.

    7. @ Sam I Am 9:23

      I did an informal survey last year. Unscientific, but the results were very consistent and very well spread geographically. Take a look at these posts.

      Would love to get some updated info from this year’s class starting after May graduation.

      Drop me an email at fmckenna@mckennapartners. All info will be strictly confidential and only included as statistics in final results.

    8. In Texas, there is at least one reason not to become a CPA. The legislature uses “professionals” as political pawns and taxes licenses to fund their general budget. It all started as a “temporary tax” in the 80’s and now is a permaent $200+ a year addition to the “annual registration fee”. I know that is not a lot and many states charge more, but the principle I am getting at is the separate tax. Of course after 25 years, I am not making near the figures quoted in the article, and I pay plenty in annual dues to professional associations that seem to exist only to mail flyers of conferences and lobby politicians instead of actully providing a service to members. The State Board also is not of much use. They send quarterly newsletters that primarily discuss disciplinary actions rather than providing any useful information to CPA’s, such as where our industry is going and information we can use in our practice. On the other hand, I have had a long, career in the auditing field that will hopefully allow me to retire comfortably. So I guess it is a mixed bag. As my job requires a CPA or CIA, I have considered ditching the CPA in the past. Perhaps someday something will happen to make me appreciate it as much as I did the day I got it.

    9. I’m a Texas registrant myself, and while I do find the taxes annoying it is still for most a small price to pay, although I would agree that the State Board and most professional organizations are rather useless.

      As someone who has worked the job market myself recently and someone who reviewed resumes and conducted interviews while with the evil KPMG, I can tell you that having the CPA designation makes a big difference in one’s perception of a candidate. If I review a resume of someone applying for an accounting position one of the first things I will think of in my mind is “do they have their CPA?”. It is even worse it the resume clearly shows that they would qualify to sit (masters degree and at least a few years of experience), at which point I am going to think to myself that the person is either too stupid or too lazy to pass the exam and someone I don’t really want on my team. Unless the candidate has amazing Obama-like charisma and BSing skills, there isn’t a whole lot of hope for that candidate.

      Do I think that CPAs are all knowing by virtue of their designation? Of course not. There are a lot of CPAs I know (many of them still with KPMG) that I think are complete baffoons and would never hire. However, it does evidence a certain level of commitment to the profession and at least some ability to understand accounting concepts, which is unfortunately rare.

      I guess the take-away for job candidates would be that a CPA doesn’t get you the job, but it helps break down a lot of the doubts a potential employer may have about whether you can really do the job.

    10. @Texas Registrant Agree! I am also a Texas CPA and the increase in junk mail after joining the TSCPA was overwhelming. I went from being able to check my mail once a week to having to check it everyday. And it was all junk!

    11. @flygirl and taxes registrant: three words: no income tax. cry me a river.

    12. @DM I understand that by living in a state with no income taxes, I pay higher taxes on other items to make up the revenue. One of the reasons why I am proud to live in Texas! And some of the ways that it is made up is by fees on licenses. What I object to is funding an advocacy group (Texas Society of CPAs) who seems to only advocate for the post office by sending me snail mail all the time. At least the IIA and ISACA offer a monthly meeting with valuable CPE which is why I pay their dues. I guess its hard for me to see what benefit I get from the AICPA and the Texas Society of CPAs aside from complying with the rules at my firm to have a membership. Box checked!

    13. Roger & Francine,

      Great post – I really liked how you calculated the lifetime career earnings for a CPA versus a accountant. Great reminder of why CPA license is important and I Would say more needed than ever in today’s crazy economic environment. During the CPA vision project (www.cpavision.org) the Core Purpose of the CPA is “making sense of a changing and complex world” – when combined with the core values of Integrity, Competence, LIfelong learning, Objectivity, Attuned to broad business issues and Protect the Public Interest you have a true professional who we need more and more of in these challenging times.

    14. roger is a great guy. i took his review course in 2007 – passed everything in 6m

      ive been reading various blogs about big4 layoffs on this site – so much fun! sry – no tears shed/no apologies. while i was at school, i got an award from kpmg for academic excellence. when i interviewed with them, the girl/senior manager asked me -how did you spend the money? im not good at lying – i told her i blew them off in vegas. got a rejection letter in less than a week. how naive i was before i graduated – all i wanted is to work for a big 4. thank you thank you God for keeping me away from those blood suckers. is it only in LA, or is it that all big4 employees have such a great “attitude”?

    15. Let me get this straight… a firm gave you an award for performing well academically, then tossed you the easiest softball question ever during an interview, and you say the equivalent of “I wiped my a** with your stupid award and flushed it down the toilet.” And you’re saying they’re the one’s with an attitude?

      I do you give you credit for having a pair giving that answer. No brain though, but definitely a huge pair.

    16. haha…u r making a good point i guess. hmmm..now that i think about it thou….the certificate got trashed, the check cashed…nothing went in the toilet

      just curious, what pairs r we talking about here? u play internet pokers too?

    17. I agree with Anonymous 15. Well played, if you’re looking for a fun story to tell your kids. Not well played if you wanted Big 4 on your resume (and please, let’s be honest everyone, that’s why anyone ever goes to the Big 4. Ever.).

      My hat’s off to you for the gall to say that. I also judge you.

    18. I passed four sections of the exam on 2007, started looking for an entry level job in public accounting field. However, the recession started at the same time too…… I;ve been working in government sector for couple years after graduation. I’m afraid no one in private sector wants me even the economy back due to I’ve been staying in my govt’ job too long.

    19. @Need Your Advice

      Almost everything private is public now. Stay where you are and do well. No one can take your CPA exam pass away. It will be there when you need it, if ever. Take some government accounting and auditing certifications, the CIA or CFE exam. Public sector is sexy now. Don’t listen to your friends in Big 4 or private sector. Most of them are screwed.

    20. @18

      What kind of government work? You could go to a local firm that does municipalities or something – you would start out as an associate but they would probably love to get you. I know a friend who is a manager at a state-wide firm and he said that the economy is good for them as they are getting alot more applicants.

      I agree with FM – people are screwed. People have spent years sacrificing families, etc for work – and now after working so long they won’t make partner and for people who made partner they are getting fired. Alot of people are still making it in Big 4 but still – why run the risk.

      That being said, my time in **public** has been a great learning experience – both Big 4 and non-Big 4. The point is there are amazing opportunities in non-Big 4 – and great people too.

      They day I get fired from Big 4 – and apologies in advance for those who are offended by crude language – but they will be told to suck it. And yes, the **it** is a pronoun with an implicit antecedent. :)

    21. So I am going back to school to get my bachelor’s in Accounting. I want to become a CPA. Do you think in this economy that this is a good idea? Financially speaking, do you think there will be opportunities for career growth and development? I guess I just need some reasurrance from those in the industry that Accounting is still a good career path.

    22. I already have a BA and a career in business but now want to go into Accounting. CPA is my goal. I’m concerned with where to begin! Any ideas?

    23. Hello Seth and AM
      I would say. Go get into the medical field if you still have a choice. Run for it. People have been saying that accounting is the way to go for so long that people are flooding in and waiting until they get into the field to realize that there are no jobs. I wanted to know the blood and guts of business. Now I know, and the job market is more competative than you could imagine. Go into accounting these days if you want to RUN your own business. Yes, now I have to get the CPA designation to even feed myself. Heaven forbid I make a family.

    24. @BBA Accounting: Oh no! I am so sad to hear you say that people should run away from the accounting field and head for medicine! I did the opposite :(

      I figured I would not have to go to school for that long, and would be able to find a job EASILY and earn a fabulous paycheck…

      I guess I am in for a rude awakening when I graduate next year with my degree….

      Thanks for the heads up!

    25. I have a BS in accounting and have been looking for a job in NE for a year now. I was proud getting out of college with no debt. However it came with a cost, I have had no internship because too busy working full time to pay my tution. Now i had a BA, no experience and doubting if I should start studying ofr a CPA. I have really decent grades and obviously GPA but no one want an accountant with no experience. Any advices

    26. Anonymous at 9:02pm– I’m in the same situation as you. I graduated summa cum laude with an accounting degree while working full-time and now I can’t find an entry-level accounting job. Well, I have found one, but it only requires a high school diploma and one year of bookkeeping experience and pays between $10 and $12 an hour. Is this the way to go?

    27. @ anonymous, T., oh no, and AM, Accounting offers a lot of oppoutunities. As everything else, you will have to be proactive and persistent to find them. My suggestion is joining a professional organization ASAP. Develop relationships and build your network. Like they say, “it’s not what you know, its WHO you know”. It helped me all through college, i worked full-time for $45,000 without a college degree. Now I received two offers from the Big 4 earning $65,000, and like most people I am prepared to be a slave to have them on my resume and leave for some work/life balance job. I joined National Association of Black Accountants and you don’t have to be “black” to be a member- I gained so much for a student fee of $20. The mistake people make is that they wait until they graduate before they look for a job, while companies hire one year before the start date. Remember if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

    28. Deb123,

      Thanks for the insight. I must say that I am nervous about going back to school and not knowing how the economy will affect my job prospects once I graduate. Although I am nervous I really feel that if I can get involved and network with other professionals then it will be very worthwhile. I mean, there will always be a need for good accountants, right? And just because I get my CPA doesn’t mean I have to be an accountant my for the rest of my life.

    29. I proofread tax, audit and management reports for KPMG for the partners.

      Later got an R.N. license, working in intensive care unit. Hospitals are merciless meat grinders on their employees, compared to the Big 4.

      If you want to work short-staffed every shift for $21.00/hr-$25.00/hr under great stress, fill out piles of unnecessary documentation rarely read, with no time for lunch or breaks on 12 hour shifts, work weekends and asked to work on every major holiday, clean up bodily waste, expose yourself to Hiv, TB, incurable diseases, death, and break your back lifting patients, then go into the medical field. There are real reasons for the nursing shortage. One major factor is the way most hospitals treat and compensate employees.

    30. If I receive my CPA designation and want to pursue a career other than accounting down the road, how would it benefit me? Would it be relevant/help me if I wanted to transition to other financial jobs like equity research/portfolio management or even say, management consulting?

    31. This might sound cliche but your career is what you make of it…yes of course being a cpa is a respected business designation and one can always transition to whatever one wants to do.

      Remember this-at the end of the day,your most valuable skills will be your ability to conceptualize and connect…these are skills that are often looked down upon in Big 4,so be careful.

      Whatever you do,always look for a position where you will THINK and DEVELOP your mind-never settle for a MONKEY JOB aka BIG 4 AUDIT

      Good Luck

    32. @ 31

      You took the thoughts right out of my mind. Spot on!

    33. Thanks Deb123 for the response. I guess I’m just frustrated that the only jobs I see posted want some kind of experience, usually at least 2 or 3 years. I’ll work on my networking. I’ve heard that the Big 4 do not like to hire older adults, early thirties or after. Does anyone have any thoughts about this? Who hires someone with an accounting degree without any experience? Thanks to anyone who can offer some insight.

    34. T – I think the question is how hard are you willing to work. If you are willing to put in 60 hours a week (at a minimum) then apply to a Big Four shop and let them know that you’re willing to sacrifice that upfront. If you don’t want to work 80 hrs a week, doing grunt audit work, then Big Four work isn’t for you – but there are other people who are willing to do it for their own personal reasons. Pehaps it’s travel, perhaps it’s resume building, perhaps it’s insecurity.

      There are no good jobs and there are no bad jobs. Only people who are happy and people who are not. Going into accounting because you want the security/pay isn’t wise. The work will suck you dry. Follow your passion and the money will follow. Even if it’s baking cupcakes. If you go into accounting without a passion for it, I give you to 3-5 years before you reach your tipping point of how much ticking and tieing, accounting research and client service you can stomach before you throw in the hat. That has nothing to do with the Firms. Big or small. Just that the line of work isn’t for you. If you aren’t thrilled with it now – what makes you think making 80K will change that passion level. It won’t. Been there, done that. Be true to yourself.

    35. Hello All,

      How are things ? Hope fine.I reside in Dubai. I just graduated with a Bachelor in Commerce with specialization in finance field from University of Wollongong (Australian). I am young and just 20 years of age. My dad has his own Textile Business and i am giving him help in his business as of now. The thing is i always had this desire to do and be something on my own. The world of finance excites me just like it does to all of you. Since i have graduated in a very poor and weak economy right now, getting a job is next to impossible. I wish to receive help from all or if any one. I have in mind to open a chartered accountancy firm in my name in the near future where i can offer audit/accounting/financial/consulting help and epertise to small/medium/large enterprises. I see good scope in it and think it goes with my interest and intellectual. I dont mind working and getting experience to make a good pool of clients before opening my own consulting firm. I am also really interested in the CPA desgination and would like to know from you how can i achieve my dreams and is what i am thinking for my near future achievable and if yes how profitable? I would be obliged to recieve and positive feedback. I would also like to keep in touch with any professional author over here through email, My email id is masand.bhavesh@gmail.com. Young, aggressive, fresh graduate, at crossroads. Need Immediate HELP!

      Thanking you,
      Bhavesh Masand

    36. The average salary sound lucrative; however, can you cite those average salaries because I’ve never seen that anywhere in my research as an accounting student.

    37. Basics on Me: CPA, CMA; got BSAcctg at age ~40; much industry experience including work for large CPA firm in internal accounting for the firm.
      NOTE: All ideas are my own. I do not and would not speak for my employer, whoever and wherever that may be.

      Most of the advice here looks pretty good to me: To succeed in public accounting requires travel, 60-80 hour work weeks, travel, working the internal politics and being happy about it, more travel – you get it. The profession can eventually offer flexibility for parents who want to raise kids, but you’ll be mommy (or daddy) -tracked so be ready. Vacation probably won’t come when you want it; it will come when the firm’s schedule is slow, or not at all if there are client demands. If ethical issues or conflicts of interests bother you, work that out ahead of time — I find the fact that an auditor has to be “independent” despite being hired and paid by the client, to be oxymoronic, so I did not become an auditor. Also, remember that a big firm is shaped like a pyramid; most people don’t make partner.

      A couple of tips:
      * I am sure there are exceptions, but large firms typically do not hire ‘non-traditional’ (older) campus hires / new grads. The campus hires are kind of like a class or team – they work, train, socialize together, and it’s good if they have lots in common and are eager to absorb the culture. (Andersen’s campus hires used to be referred to as “Anderoids”.) Small firms are more flexible in hiring. Also, small firms offer the chance to do a wider variety of work, and to work with smaller clients if that’s your goal. Big firms have lots of training and look good on resumes.
      * Don’t bother getting a BS or BA in accounting if you don’t plan to take the CPA exam. Just don’t waste the tim – choose another path. Colleges teach to the CPA exam; the curriculum is set up to cover the test material. It’s half the point. Anyone who looks at your resume and sees that you have not taken the test will ask you about it. It’s not that bad. Just do it.

      Finally — If I got a life do-over, would I become an accountant? No. –> Good luck.

    38. @34

      Very well said.

    39. @37

      Big 4 do hire non-traditional students, but they have a tougher road to success due to the “team” atmosphere you mention. I think this was not the case so much pre-downturn as there was plenty of work for everyone–there are older third-years and seniors in my office. However, I have had a difficult time in my first year with the big 4, and I think my age [36] might be part of the problem. People tend to favor those who are similar to themselves, whether they realize it or not.

      I’ve also definitely noticed that those from outside the traditional demographic are often the first to be cut for “performance.”

    40. I have passed the cpa exam, have also passed part one of the CIA and have a 3.8 gpa in my MBA program. But I’m having trouble obtaining certification, either by working for an active CPA or getting a job (or an interview for that matter) at a CPA firm. Do you have any suggestions for me?

    41. @5 is onto something. Generally the younger folk with less experience will not yet have a CPA… thus skewing this scale to say that no CPA means less pay. You must compare people with similar experience and then see what the difference is. You also have to compare people with similar responsibilities — that is audit or accounting responsibilities. I know that for for non-audit practices I have seen situations where people with the deep computer skills are paid significantly higher than their peers. I know of examples where people of the same title have a difference of 40% in pay — where the computer skills get the $$$. That said – the CPAs have more promotion and career path opportunities.

    42. I’ve noticed that passing the exam and/or having the certification can be a very ironic thing, especially during an interview. When you’ve passed or have the certification, it’s almost a non-issue, and you get little to no questions about it. When it’s not indicated on your resume, there’s way more questions about it – whether you forgot to include it on your resume, whether you’ve started on the process, in the middle of pursuing, intend to pass. Very ironic.

    43. I’ve had a sort of backwards career path into an internal audit position. Started with a finance degree from Wake Forest which did not include all the classes needed to sit for the CPA exam so I went into corporate accounting and eventually earned the CMA and CFM. I went back to school for an MBA and eventually landed in internal audit for better or worse. Since then I’ve obtained the CIA, CISA (I do IT audit work as well) and the CFE (too easy as some of the other posts have indicated). I’ve always wanted to take the CPA exam, but one of those brilliant professors at Wake Forest (thanks Dale Martin I’ll always remember you, and not fondly) convinced me that I wasn’t “bright” enough so I switched to Finance instead of the 5-year accounting track as noted above. Mind you I did graduate Phi Beta Kappa, have an MBA, CMA, CFM, CIA, and CISA! So my question is…should I take the missing classes (auditing and taxes, I think) and go for the CPA now that I’m 34 years old, fairly established, and already have five certifications and an MBA and focus 95% of my time on IT-related audit and governance? Does this make any sense at all? I don’t want to seen as someone who could not pass the CPA because I’ve never tried.

    44. @matt,
      If you have the time, money and motivation, just do it! It is an accomplishment you will be proud of and a regret you can erase. Unless you want to be in public accounting, (which at 34 is still not out of the question) it is not a strict requirement. But it is a credential that counts, a learning experience, and an intellectual challenge. I can see you don’t shy away from intellectual challenges. I want to congratulate you a year from now.

    45. @Matt, FM

      I agree with FM that the CPA is a credential that counts. Now is a great time to have as many qualifications as possible. However, the CPA exam is a very rigorous test in memorization. It is less about how smart you are and more about how much time you’ve put into preparing. If you aren’t 100% committed to taking it, there is a decent chance you will have a hard time getting through it. So if you can’t handle sacrificing 20-40 hours a week for several months to become a CPA, don’t waste your time, money, or energies on it.

      That isn’t the case for everyone of course… anyone getting out of college in Accounting ought to do whatever it takes to get their CPA. I’m just referring to Matt’s situation with this response.

    46. @43

      Matt, maybe you should ask Dr. Martin what you should do…he’s still around. Instead of working hard and disproving the naysayers you’ve chosen to wait 12 years to post on a blog about your feelings towards him. How mature to try and bash a program that’s become one of the top in the nation.

      With all of your accreditations go get a PhD and teach.

    47. You’ve read a little too much into my post Mr. or Ms. Anonymous. #1) I am in no way “bashing” Wake Forest or Dale Martin. I love and will forever be a Wake Forest Demon Deacon and I worked like a dog for four years to get that education. Indeed the program has been the top-ranked for CPA passers on and off for many years – this says a lot about the students AND the professors. #2) I certainly have not sat around and done nothing for 12 years (you’ve implied that above by saying “Instead of working hard and dispoving naysayers”), I simply chose a different path because I was discouraged from pursuing the 5-year route by someone who really didn’t grasp my committment, drive, or abilities. When someone with a DBA/CPA at a top ranked university tells a 20 year old that they are not good enough to become a CPA, that 20 year old will probably believe it, and indeed I did. Unfortunately, I did not have a mentor or someone in my life at the time to encourage me, and Martin was, at the time, the head of the 5-year BS/MS program.

    48. Regarding my post (#40) from above. I find it has been a curse to have passed the exam and to have not have been signed off on for certification.I have passed the cpa exam, have also passed part one of the CIA and have a 3.8 gpa in my MBA program. But I’m having trouble obtaining certification, either by working for an active CPA or getting a job (or an interview for that matter) at a CPA firm. Does anyone have any suggestions?. I’d greatly appreciate it.

    49. Matt,

      All I’m saying is that if becoming a CPA was truly a dream of yours you would’ve either a) gotten it by now or b) not listened and disproved your critics by busting your tail and showing that you belonged in the program. How is it fair to blame an active / public figure of the school for you not becoming a CPA by now? Plenty of 20 year olds have been told the same thing yet worked hard and completed the program instead of lowering their heads and “walking away” to another major. You could’ve stood up for yourself but you chose not to and now are pointing fingers (over the internet no less).

      If becoming a CPA is a dream of yours go for it! Just don’t do it because you want to show how successful you are by seeking to add another group of letters after your last name. Congratulations for all of your success but in all honesty the only person to blame for you not being a CPA by now is yourself, not a teacher you had 12 years ago.

      And I was serious about becoming a teacher some day. It’s obvious that you have lots of experience and accreditations, and students could stand to learn a lot from you.

    50. I’ve been reading the posts above. Seems to be a catch 22 with passing the CPA exam. Firms are difficult to get into and private industry thinks since you passed the exam, you don’t want to stay……

    51. @cpachaser – I’m surprised you can’t get anything with your credentials (not even with a second or third tier firm). You may want to geographically expand your search if you’re open to relocate. You may also, especially in this tough market, want to consider local CPA firms. I would imagine it’s easier to get you foot inside the local firms. Have you also considered joining networking orgs in your market (like a local young professional group or accounting network)? There, you can make lots of connections that can hopefully place you in the right direction. Hope this helps.

    52. Thank you for responding. The dilema still exists. Passing the exam without having the good fortune of having been signed off on, in either public or private industry, is discouraging. I’m still trying……

    53. To CPAChaser who passed the exam and can’t get into a CPA Firm. I was in your situation. Most firms are weak handed. They are terified that once you get certified you will run…they should realize you will not run if they had a great organization and paid well. My advise to you is continue searching firms that are not chicken Sh*t and one who values your time at the firm, no matter how long you gonna stay.

      If It is true that you intend to leave after certification, don’t say that in their faces. Try to tell them you finally passed the exam, your life long dream of becoming a CPA is near completion, and you like to make it your profession. This way, they see a true dedicated employee for many years to come. (So it is a small lie, so what?). You must do what you must, who knows, it may well be your long term profession.

      I did it and landed a great firm that handles huge accounts. I was searching for the longest until I figured the reasons for not being hired. And conveyed to them that my intentions are for longevity with the firm.

    54. Look at your whole package-yes a whole bunch of C’s and other leters after your name is great, however,there has to be more than that.I don’t think there is any conspiracy by anyone not to hire people who have already passed the exam.

    55. Anon111,

      Thanks for the post. I’ll try every way possible and hopefully, some path will bear fruit.

    56. Is there an age limit to where a firm will not consider hiring you?

    57. 15 years of accounting experience, not really that interested anymore in accounting but need to eat. turning 47 in a week. question – is it worth getting the cpa license NOW even though i dont have any public experience? i guess i a am trying to hedge my bets with staying employed by adding those three initials after my name but no audit experience at all. california allows cpa certification without audit hours… thanks

    58. I’m similiar to your situation, bobo. I’m 40, same years of accounting experience, passed the CPA exam, and have struggled to work with or for an active cpa or to obtain the interest of a local or regional CPA firm. Tough field/industry to obtain professional designation.

    59. hey cpachaser,
      yea, its tough when you are older. i see myself in a few years maybe going solo with a bookkeeping business, business advisory type of business. not interested in hard core auditing, just doesnt interest me at all. considering the economy as it is and its still not getting better, getting the cpa MAYBE will give me the edge if i am not able to go on my own. working for a firm at the entry level you really have to accept the fact you wont have a personal life, its secondary to their needs. they know they can hire fresh grads for cheap and work them hard for a couple of years until they move on. if audit work is what you really want, you have to work for the small local firm that will probably have people your age or close to it that may just believe in work balance. i personally liked accounting in the beginning of my career but the hours really killed me, i refused to keep working so many hours at the expense of not being home with my family and when i was, i was too tired to do anything!!

    60. Dear All,

      Though this message of mine do not correspond so much with the forum but I am writing this here because I see my fellow mates here who have similar work exp or education. I am from Asia and currently in US for more than a year on dependent visa. I have Chartered accountant degree from my hometown and completed my CPA here in less than 5 months. I have work exp of almost 6 years. As I am on dependent visa here, this country rules doesn’t allow me to work. I applied to almost 1000+ jobs and got some interviews, but rejected in all coz of visa issues. I wonder with such a qualification, work exp with Big 4, why are they afraid to apply for my visa and that too when many visa are left..I am still patiently applying for jobs and trying m luck.

      My appeal is, if there is anyone, who knows about any opportunity which can suit my profile, then please let me know, I am very keen for this job and will put my life in to it. Thanks

    61. How probable is it that by passing the CPA exam, one would increase their earning potential by $18,000 a year and to extrapolate that across a career? Is it just me or does that seem highly overstated!

    62. […] New York, NYOnline Accounting Degree or Certificate: Which to Choose?Top 100 Accounting Advice Blogsre: The AuditorsInfo hot job […]

    63. […] of my most popular posts wasn’t even written by me!  “Why Bother Becoming A CPA?” by Roger Phillips of Roger CPA […]

    64. I have twelve years experience, five in public accounting. I have my CPA. I moved to San Diego and could not get hired in 3 years. (I am in my early 50’s). I moved back to My smaller home town where I am in demand. For those of you struggling to find a job – try smaller towns as opposed to the big cities. There Re fewer jobs, but there is far less competition.

    65. @Anonymous

      Thanks for that insight. :) Smaller cities and smaller firms with industry niches value prior experience more than the Big Four who want to replicate the collegiate experience for new grads.

    66. I have my CPA but have never used it professionally. I could not afford to keep up the CPE while unemployed [for nearly 3 years] after being cut from the Big 4 in 2009. Thankfully, my state gives the option of “inactive” licenses, so I have been inactive since 2010. I have an okay position in government accounting right now, but it does not require me to use my CPA license [or perform work that would be considered the work of a CPA.] Might consider reactivating in a few years if I decide to move on to a different position/agency that has more of a financial focus [current agency is healthcare based and I’m more of a support person.]

      When job searching I was always told that I was sort of “neither fish nor fowl” because I had the combination of a CPA license but almost zero experience [the minimum required to be a CPA in my state] so my designation didn’t really bring anything to the table for employers other than not having to pay for CPA materials/fees or time off for taking the exam. The bonus I got at my firm for passing it is the probably only tangible thing I’ve ever gotten from it, although I might not have gotten my current position without it [don’t worry, I did fully disclose my inactive status.] Still hope that someday my license might come into play again, but it’s looking like that’s going to be a long time from now, if ever.