Some people may call me crazy! Others will say, this choice is right up my ally. I have my MBA, why would I choose to go get another designation? Why would I subject myself to that kind of punishment? With a pass rate of around 50%, the CPA exam is one of the toughest designations to get. Why would I choose this life? Isn’t an MBA enough in today’s economy?
No, it’s not.
I have chosen to actively pursue getting my CPA license in the State of Utah. What led me to this decision has been a lot of things. The main reason is to reach the pinnacle of my profession. To be able to market myself as an expert in all things accounting and have the job security that having a CPA designation entails. I do not know if I will choose to become a corporate CPA or if I will branch on my own and start my own CPA firm or Tax prep business.
What I do know is that getting the CPA designation opens up many doors to me that have been shut previously.
How I chose Accounting as a career
I have always been a numbers kind of guy. My father is a Tax Attorney who spent several years in IRS Management. I was raised around tax forms and 10 keys. Having that background I always found myself circling back to numbers. I started my career in finance as a Teller at Wells Fargo always making sure that my drawer was balanced to the penny. As I worked my way up through the Customer Service side of Wells Fargo, I became interested in Stocks and pursued my Stock Broker licenses at E*TRADE.
I worked my way up to the Tax and Retirement team where I had to become an expert on Cost Basis, Wash Sales, Forms 5498 and 1099-R. When the direction of progression in the world of investments came up, I saw that the next step would have to be in sales, and that was not for me. I can sell, however I am not drawn to the idea of having a corporate entity set mandatory goals to hit. My goal has always been to serve the best interest of the customer in everything I do. Having managers breathe down my neck trying to push the latest gimmick was something I did not want to do. I loved numbers, I loved Finance, so I looked into Accounting. I left E*TRADE and pursued my first corporate accounting job at Wells Fargo with their Commercial Credit Card division.
At this time, I had graduated with my Bachelors in Political Science from the University of Utah and knew that I had to go get my advanced degree. My first thought was to go get a Masters in Accountancy. I talked with school counselors and found that an MBA with accounting emphasis would give me a more developed and robust understanding of the business of Accountancy. After 2 years, I graduated from the University of Phoenix with my MBA with Accounting emphasis.
Now, to become a CPA in the State of Utah, it is a requirement that I work under a CPA for a year (2000 hours) and have them sign off that I worked for them. Because of that reason, I decided to leave Wells Fargo and join on at Stratus.hr as their newest Accountant. I was put in charge of all AP/AR for the company as well as Commission and Benefit accounting.
As you can see, the progression to become a CPA was one that takes a long time to prepare for. Accounting was a natural fit with my work background and because I am a very ambitious individual, to be able to be at the top of my profession, the next step in my progress would be becoming a CPA.
What can I do with my CPA?
Great question. There are so many different directions that a CPA certification can send you. Perhaps the greatest benefit of having your CPA designation would be the job security you will have. You can either work as a corporate CPA or work for yourself as a CPA. Having the title of CPA means that you are a master of everything accounting. A true accounting professional.
The average salary for a corporate CPA is generally a lot higher than if you were to go out on your own as a CPA. Notice i said “GENERALLY.” There are a lot of expenses and other obstacles that are seen in the Public Accounting arena that are not seen in a corporate setting. The career path for a CPA in a corporate setting usually leads to Controller, CFO, Finance Manager, etc. Good corporations are always looking for good CPA’s to keep as much of their money as possible.
Some of the responsibilities of the Corporate CPA would be to prepare the financial statements, ensure that proper accounting procedures are in place, and create forecasts and cash flow estimations to help other management teams understand the position of the company. The one drawback to being a corporate CPA is the fact you are always under someone else’s watchful eye. You do not have the freedom to pick and choose your clients like you would if you owned the business.
Start a CPA Firm/Open an accounting related business
One of the biggest pluses in getting the CPA designation is the ability to market yourself as an Accounting expert and open up a private firm. People and businesses are always looking for outside help in their accounting needs, mainly with Audit and preparing financial statements. A CPA could also start a Tax preparation business and assist people and businesses with their tax preparation needs. Being a CPA also gives you the right to represent your clients in Tax Court. Before branching out on your own, it is a good idea to spend some time actually working for a private CPA firm to see how things are done. Being a corporate CPA and a Public Accountant are two different animals.
Becoming a CPA is an extremely hard process, but one that will pay off immensely to you. It will open doors to employment possibilities, give you piece of mind knowing you will always be in high demand, and will give you the confidence of knowing you are at the top of your game. It will be worth it in the end. All of those nights studying and preparing will not be wasted. Helping your company or clients save more of their hard earned money is something we all want to do, but CPA’s know how to do it best.
Go for it!
Get it Done!
I will keep you posted throughout my journey to become a CPA. Stay Tuned!