shogun98

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Any CPA's here. I'm thinking about going back to school for accounting and then becoming a CPA. I guess I'm looking for the pros and cons of becoming a CPA.
 

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I started my college career in accounting. One semester later and it became business. I couldn't take all the debit and credit pages.
 

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I'm married to one!
 

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Any CPA's here. I'm thinking about going back to school for accounting and then becoming a CPA. I guess I'm looking for the pros and cons of becoming a CPA.
Great choice.
I plan on being the Canadian version - a CA, but I've talked to people up here who hold both a CA and a CPA.
 

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I am a financial auditor and a CPA. It is a good field to be in if you don't mind working long hours during certain times of the year. If you have any specific questions I will be glad to answer them.
 

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I am a financial auditor and a CPA. It is a good field to be in if you don't mind working long hours during certain times of the year. If you have any specific questions I will be glad to answer them.
Don't those two things go hand in hand?
That's kind of how it is with CA's up here.
 

Brian T

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Any CPA's here. I'm thinking about going back to school for accounting and then becoming a CPA. I guess I'm looking for the pros and cons of becoming a CPA.
Feel free to ask any questions. I am working on finishing the CPA exam and am in my third year with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) in the audit practice so I could shed some light on pros and cons from a public accounting perspective and maybe some insight from a private perspective.
 

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My wife is an accountant and is in the process of finishing the CPA exams now. There is a lot of studying involved in the CPA exam as she does a lot. She really likes it so far. I can tell that from about January 8, to April 15 she works 60+ hours a week Monday - Saturday. Good luck with it.
 

shogun98

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Well I have an bachelors in Sociology now and I'm just wondering if it would be better just to go back to school and take the classes I need to sit for the CPA exam or get an associates in accounting or suck it up and get another bachelors?
 

dankil13

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I'm a CPA. I worked at a Big 4 firm, a mid-tier international firm, and now I am an assistant controller for a very large multi-national corporation.

The pros: accounting is consistently one of the strongest fields as far as hiring from campus. There are lots of career paths you can chose (auditing, tax, consulting, private industry, IRS and other gov't - the FBI loves CPAs). The work is usually challenging, and depending on your career path the advancement to a manager level role is fairly quick. Also, when I worked in public accounting the hours in the non busy season (generally summer) were very flexible and often allowed me to sneak out to the golf course for a round in the afternoon. And while the demand for experienced professionals has taken a small hit with the economy, I can tell you I switched positions twice in the last two years and received a pay increase of 15% and 25%.

The cons: as Jeff Hacker said the hours can be (brutally) long (particularly working in public accounting or around month/quarter/year end close), continuing ed requirements, independence requirements (if you are a CPA at an accounting firm), and big firms/consulting often require extensive travel.
 

Brian T

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I'm a CPA. I worked at a Big 4 firm, a mid-tier international firm, and now I am an assistant controller for a very large multi-national corporation.

The pros: accounting is consistently one of the strongest fields as far as hiring from campus. There are lots of career paths you can chose (auditing, tax, consulting, private industry, IRS and other gov't - the FBI loves CPAs). The work is usually challenging, and depending on your career path the advancement to a manager level role is fairly quick. Also, when I worked in public accounting the hours in the non busy season (generally summer) were very flexible and often allowed me to sneak out to the golf course for a round in the afternoon. And while the demand for experienced professionals has taken a small hit with the economy, I can tell you I switched positions twice in the last two years and received a pay increase of 15% and 25%.

The cons: as Jeff Hacker said the hours can be (brutally) long (particularly working in public accounting or around month/quarter/year end close), continuing ed requirements, independence requirements (if you are a CPA at an accounting firm), and big firms/consulting often require extensive travel.
Agreed. I am not at that point in my career to the assistant controller level but I can tell you I know of several people that have left PwC within the last 8-12 months and have gotten hired relatively quickly. It appears as if they have more sucess getting other positions than some other fields. I would say once you have the CPA designation and some experience (especially) public that there will be opportunities that someone could obtain. There are headhunters that call or email wanting a certain number of years of experience with a Big 4 and CPA designation. I have enjoyed my time at the firm although as mentioned it is not for the faint of heart (hours have been long) during busy season and I have actually had a summer busy season the last 2 years so I have not enjoyed that traditional down time of the summer time. As mentioned the work is challenging and there are some interesting parts to it. I think it is fairly interesting to get to see different companies (being in public accounting). This would be different if you go industry. Depending on what your client base is you could have a significant amount of travel. Depends on where you are in life i.e. married, family close by, willingness to travel etc. So as you can see there are definitely some cons.

The pros would be that I feel there will always be a need for accountants. Since we audit, do tax work, consulting/ advisory, maintain records of a business, and government seek accountants there are many uses for us. I consistently see articles online about most hired degrees, growing jobs etc and accounting degrees seem to always be listed. With this I say you can get a foundation and then move on in many different directions which is good. Traditonally there is job security with accountants. I will say that pay is not bad. Depending on position, experience etc but there are definitely some highly compensated people in accounting/ financial roles. I would say starting out in public you feel underpaid for the hours you put in but you are not paid poorly. I would say the CPA is a con while studying but I know once I get it passed that it will be something worth having so ulitmately the CPA is a huge pro.

I think the forum discussion has given you some insight into the field but as stated before ask any specific questions and I know we can definitely offer assistance with answering them.
 

shogun98

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Thanks for all the replies, you answered most of the questions that I had. I think I'm going to start looking into going back to school. I don't think I'll mind the long hours or the traveling right now since I don't have a wife or kids.
 

Brian T

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Thanks for all the replies, you answered most of the questions that I had. I think I'm going to start looking into going back to school. I don't think I'll mind the long hours or the traveling right now since I don't have a wife or kids.
Good to hear. The travel can allow you to see some places that you may not see and it is nice to be able to travel on the Company sometimes you know. This is assuming you go to decent places and not some of the smaller middle of nowhere places which can be a little less fun. I have had a couple of great trips domestically. Just keep in mind that when we say long hours this could be anywhere from 60 to 100 on any given week during busy season. Our firm has expected 55 hour work weeks during busy season but most go over that and I have had a couple of the 100 hour work weeks myself so it really just depends. Long story short I still feel the pros outweigh the cons of me being in public accounting. When I feel this is different then I would consider making a change. Hope this helps and keep us posted on your journey.
 

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How did you guys choose which of the Big 4 to work for?
I've got answers from up here, but I am curious as to if it's the same on the US
 

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Great choice.
I plan on being the Canadian version - a CA, but I've talked to people up here who hold both a CA and a CPA.
I as well am doing the same, but at the rate I'm going I'm not even going to get through the 4 years of university.
 

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How did you guys choose which of the Big 4 to work for?
I've got answers from up here, but I am curious as to if it's the same on the US
Interesting question there. I did not understand until I was going through the recruiting process at college. We essentially all do the same work i.e. professional services so advisory, assurance and tax services. The thing is there is a distinct difference in the cultures of the firms. This would hold true between the firms i.e. PwC, E&Y, Deloitte and KPMG. But even within the firms there are differences in the cultures in the offices as well so PwC Atlanta compared to PwC New York. For me personally i saw myself as a better fit with PwC from a personal standpoint in comparison to others that recruited at my school. You will be spending quite a bit of time with these people so you want to make sure that is feasible with whichever firm you choose. And honestly they are all good firms with good reputations. Hope this helps.
 

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Interesting question there. I did not understand until I was going through the recruiting process at college. We essentially all do the same work i.e. professional services so advisory, assurance and tax services. The thing is there is a distinct difference in the cultures of the firms. This would hold true between the firms i.e. PwC, E&Y, Deloitte and KPMG. But even within the firms there are differences in the cultures in the offices as well so PwC Atlanta compared to PwC New York. For me personally i saw myself as a better fit with PwC from a personal standpoint in comparison to others that recruited at my school. You will be spending quite a bit of time with these people so you want to make sure that is feasible with whichever firm you choose. And honestly they are all good firms with good reputations. Hope this helps.
Ah yes then, there is consistency across the board.
I went through the recruitment phase this past fall, and even interviewed with KPMG, but I was too young to secure a summer co-op.
Everyone said that all the companies are the same as far as pay and work - the only difference was the company culture.
I really enjoyed being around most of the big 4 firms. With the exception of one... But I'm not going to name names.
 

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hate to bum a post off the OP, but those of you working in big firms... looking for a general idea what people are making.

my wife is a CPA, has 6 years experience, and has a masters in accounting. we live in st. louis and she works for a small firm, 20 people, and her pay is low i think.

last year she made 55 i believe. maybe lower.
 

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hate to bum a post off the OP, but those of you working in big firms... looking for a general idea what people are making.
my wife is a CPA, has 6 years experience, and has a masters in accounting. we live in st. louis and she works for a small firm, 20 people, and her pay is low i think.
last year she made 55 i believe. maybe lower.
My wife early in her career worked for the State Board of Accounts mainly doing audits of things like school corporations and small cities/towns. The pay was low and the hours long with a great deal of travel. Her next position was with a small firm mainly working in the audit area but doing some tax work as well. The pay was better with no travel but the hours at times were long.
She currently works for a very large midwest grocery chain in the area of Financial Accounting. The hours are more normal, often just 8 hours a day but she still has periods where she may work up to 12 hours a day. The possiblities to advance are endless with a company this size.
While I think she would agree that this is a great career choice, she does complain now and then about the grind of doing somewhat redundant work day in and day out.
 

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hate to bum a post off the OP, but those of you working in big firms... looking for a general idea what people are making.

my wife is a CPA, has 6 years experience, and has a masters in accounting. we live in st. louis and she works for a small firm, 20 people, and her pay is low i think.

last year she made 55 i believe. maybe lower.
I hear this is common with small firms - even up to midsize firms.
I had a friend who was training to be a CA with a midsize out of town, and he was getting pennies compared to people in town, and not to mention he hated his life from the work load.
He moved back last fall since he was hired by KPMG and now he makes oodles more, and enjoys life a lot more.

That being said, I don't expect to make 'a lot' of money when I start out. In fact, I expect to drop from where I am now as a co-op student!
However, I heard a few years back that the average CA in Calgary with 10 years experience was making $200k.
 

dankil13

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Ah yes then, there is consistency across the board.
I went through the recruitment phase this past fall, and even interviewed with KPMG, but I was too young to secure a summer co-op.
Everyone said that all the companies are the same as far as pay and work - the only difference was the company culture.
I really enjoyed being around most of the big 4 firms. With the exception of one... But I'm not going to name names.
It certainly does come down to the culture of the firm and where you feel you fit best, and as Brian said the culture for a firm varies from office to office. I had offers with 3 of the Big 5 at the time, and my decision led me to EY even though it was the lowest offer at the time. I don't think you can make a wrong choice from a resume standpoint, but if you want to work on certain types of clients (ie - technology, not-for-profits, biotech) make sure you ask what industries that office focuses on. Also, some firms stick you in an industry group right away, while others let you bounce around as a staff (this is what I liked about EY vs my other choices at the time).
 

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All our offices up here focus on Oil & Gas since that's what we do in Calgary!
How do you with CPAs feel about international demand/possibility to move?
I've always been told that a CA from Canada can move almost anywhere EXCEPT the US. Do you get told that you can't really go anywhere?
 

dankil13

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hate to bum a post off the OP, but those of you working in big firms... looking for a general idea what people are making.

my wife is a CPA, has 6 years experience, and has a masters in accounting. we live in st. louis and she works for a small firm, 20 people, and her pay is low i think.

last year she made 55 i believe. maybe lower.
First year managers (5/6 years experience) at larger firms probably make $65k-$85k in Philly depending on the firm and performance level of the person. NYC, Chicago and LA would certainly be higher. No overtime is paid (I know some smaller firms do pay OT).
 

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First year managers (5/6 years experience) at larger firms probably make $65k-$85k in Philly depending on the firm and performance level of the person. NYC, Chicago and LA would certainly be higher. No overtime is paid (I know some smaller firms do pay OT).
KPMG pays overtime up here - to a certain extent. And then you get other benefits sent your way.
 

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