Back when I worked in HR for a public accounting firm, it was common to receive and send out requests for best practices in employment policy. Such information is often shared freely across non-competing firms all in support of advancing people initiatives within the profession. Most often I was (and still am) a Go-Giver in […]
*waits anxiously for Becker press release saying 42 of the 39 winners prepared for the exam using Becker products* The AICPA has announced 2012 Elijah Watt Sells Award winners or, as the haters call them, the overachievers who got a cumulative average score above 95.50 their first attempt. More than 92,000 candidates sat for the […]
You may have never heard of Bryan Steinhauer but this 26-year-old's story is about to make you feel guilty for every single stupid excuse you ever gave for not being able to pass the CPA exam. You see, Bryan was beaten into a coma back in 2008 when he got into a barroom brawl with […]
Serious question: when did they start handing out nearly FORTY Elijah Watt Sells awards a year instead of 10? Is this like what they started doing in elementary school when they would hand out trophies to all the kids on the soccer team, even the big fat losers? Anyway, the AICPA announced 37 Elijah Watt […]
Have a question for GC's exclusive team of underachievers? Get in touch and we'll do our best to do the research for you. Hey GC Team (Adrienne/Caleb/MIA freelancer), I'm a CPA candidate starting with the Big 4 this fall. I'm potentially in line to get the EWS award (FAR-94, AUD-96, REG-98, BEC on 8/14) […]
Wait just one second… didn't they just announce the Elijah Watt Sells Award winners for 2010? I guess the AICPA wasn't kidding when they said the 2011 exam would be graded faster than ever. Somehow, we've got 2011 Elijah Watt Sells winners in record time. Here they are for your shaming. Of 90,000 candidates who took the […]
This press release should come as a surprise to absolutely no one: Becker Professional Education, a global leader in professional education and a part of DeVry Inc., announced that all 19 of the 2010 Elijah Watt Sells Award winners prepared for the exam with Becker's CPA Exam Review. Since the American Institute of Certified Public […]
It's that time of year again where we celebrate the achievement of those CPA exam candidates who really overstudied. That's right! The Elijah Watt Sells award winners have been announced and whether or not you admire their accomplishment or feel compelled to make snide, resentful remarks, there's no denying that these 19 individuals did far, […]
Twenty-three year-old New Zealand race car driver and accountant Ant Pedersen called his big weekend win "chaotic and cool" but it apparently was not cool enough to convince him to ditch accounting. That, my friends, is dedication. Pedersen managed to win the feature race at Hampton Downs at the weekend. But despite the win it […]
Did I mention I'm enjoying this? These 2010 CPA exam stats have to do with first-time testing events taken by candidates without advanced degrees. The cool part is this is all broken down by section; the not that cool part is the same few schools absolutely killed it on every part. Wake Forest ranked first […]
It seems everyone is taking off of work this week (at least half my neighbors are) and unless the DoJ decides to bust a huge fraud in the next two days, I got nothing. So you guys get bizarre CPA exam statistics that you may or may not care about. All of these are courtesy […]
According to the AICPA, the news from the CPA exam front lines isn’t all that bad.
Did I read that right? BEC has the highest pass rate?!
Satan definitely ice skated to work on the day this data came out. Nice work, people.
Welcome to the cancel-your-holiday-in-Libya edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, another Fall 2011 Big 4 associate would like to nail down a certification in addition to the CPA before starting work. Can I keep my head from exploding long enough to formulate a coherent response?
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Back to our overachiever du jour:
I am about to pass the CPA exam and have 8 months until I begin at one of the “Big Four” firms in Florida. I am excited to start at the firm as it was my first choice however, I am not certain I will be in public accounting for the long run (like most people). My question is, being uncertain about my career path, what other certification should I obtain before I start in 8 months?
I have considered the CISA, CFE, CMA, CFA, Six Sigma but, I am not sure as I am not certain of my long term path. I want something that will give me an edge if I leave the firm and/or switch careers.
What certification would you recommend?
Any suggestions are helpful.
Dear Overachiever Du Jour,
After murdering the remainder of Stranahan’s in the house, I’m better prepared to answer your query.
I appreciate your ambition and we definitely think that obtaining additional certifications is a good idea for those that move on from public accounting but I fail to see how this benefits you now before you have an inkling of what kind of career you want. HOWEVER, I’m here to help sort you out as best I can, so I’ve put aside my judgments for two.
Based on your “considerations” listed, you seem to have a case of accounting certification ADHD which is fine but there’s no clear pattern as to what your interests are. I’m not going to recommend you do something just because it may be a hot area (forensics) or in-demand (information systems) but I am going to recommend you rank these certifications based on your level interest. Want to eventually be a CFO? Then go for the CMA. Want to pile up the financial reporting bodies? Get the CFE. You get the point. The important thing is to pursue a certification you find interesting rather than one that will just puts a few letters behind your name that may (but probably not) impress someone.
But really, do you want to spend the summer prior to starting work studying for a test? Get the band back together, take a trip, something.
If you have a career related question that also involves the CPA exam (like “should I take it before I try to get this awesome job at x firm?” or “Will I still get hired if I have a CPA and therefore scare the crap out of recruiters who want me to be as moldable to their whims as possible?”), please email me directly. Emailing email@example.com will just mean you getting trapped in Caleb’s inbox for weeks.
Now then, today’s reader question comes from a finance world immigrant looking to elbow his way into public accounting:
I graduated in 2005 with a Finance degree, I spent one year as a Staff Accountant then moved onto to become a Corporate Financial Analyst for the past 4 years. I am interested in making the change to public accounting and began the MSA program last year to get the requisite hours, I’ll be eligible for the CPA at the end of the Spring Semester but won’t quite be finished with the MSA program. There is the background…
…now my question is would I be better off staying in my current position and finishing the master’s program before I take the CPA and find a new job? Or would it be more beneficial for me to attempt to find a lower level job at a firm during the spring semester to start getting some experience, then attempting to take the CPA next fall? I’m eager for a change, but I would like to know what the best course of action might be and if it’s realistic to think I could find a CPA firm job before I have finished the master’s program or taken the CPA exam. Thanks for your help.
Here’s the obvious disclaimer: I am heavily biased towards the CPA designation for many reasons.
Firstly, having one obviously makes you more employable because it shows a level of dedication that employers salivate over. Forget all that junk about a CPA showing that you know your stuff, getting one shows that you have the ability to grind through months or even years of studying your ass off, which employers are into because it means that you might just show the same sort of dedication to ticking and tying.
Secondly, having a CPA allows access to a professional network that cannot quite be accessed from the fringes (read: unlicensed fringes) and puts you in a different caliber. For someone trying to break into public accounting, having a CPA (or being darn close minus the work experience) right off the bat can put you on the fast track to career advancement that might otherwise be out of reach were you to both come from another industry and lack a CPA. Just my 2¢.
All that being said (possibly in more words than were necessary), yes you can find a job with a CPA firm before you have passed the exam but the best avenue to take is always to tackle the exam as early as you can before you get involved in life, work, family… you know, all that stuff that will turn into excuses for not having time to study later. Even your best-laid plans don’t always turn out as well as they appeared on paper, so that low level gig at a firm (if you can get one) might turn into a longer-term position that you can’t or won’t walk away from. Ask anyone who has studied for the CPA exam while grinding out their first year in public accounting if you need more clarification on just how large a pain in the ass that plan can be. You know, if you’re planning on having a life.
My suggestion: take the CPA exam as soon as possible and put your feelers out in the job market. Don’t bank on a CPA firm position landing in your lap but if you find one, it will be best to have as much of the exam done as you can get before you actually start. Good luck!