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To CPA or Not to CPA? How to Score a Great Accounting Job

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by Jonathan Ridd

over 3 years ago

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You've gained your undergraduate degree in accounting, finance, commerce or business, and you've settled into your career. Things are going well at work, you’re gaining more and more experience everyday and things seem pretty rosy. So, what’s next? Well, you could start working towards your professional Certified Practising Accountant qualification like a lot of other people, or you could use the little time you have outside of work to do the things you enjoy. Hmmm, decisions, decisions…  

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people out of jobs with great experience, titles and organisations next to their names, who are battling to reach the next level or, even worse, secure a job. If you want to keep progressing in your career, you need more than a diploma, bachelor's or master's degree. Currently, you’re in a competitive, over-supplied candidate market, and employers can be – and are being – picky and inflexible about professional qualifications. 

To CPA or Not to CPA? How to Score a Great Accounting Job

I met Sam (name changed) last week. He worked for ten years with one of Australia’s largest financial services groups. He commenced as an accounts clerk, worked hard and gained several promotions all the way up to senior analyst, earning $90,000 p.a. So far, so good. In January 2013, Sam was made redundant. Without his CPA, Sam shed some light on his last year of trying to find a new job. 'I just never got around to [a CPA]. I never really thought I would need it with how everything was going.' Sam is still jobless a year later. 'It’s been tough. 

Every time I apply for a job, I’m told that my experience is impressive and highly relevant, but I didn't make the cut because I don’t have my CPA. There always seems to be someone, or even a few other people, at a similar level who have the qualifications, and it seems to be making all the difference.' Sam is not alone. I have seen numerous people in the same situation. It really is simple, if you’re thinking about whether or not to embark on your professional qualifications, be it, CPA, CA or CIMA. In the words of my weekend footwear, just do it. Late nights and weekends studying will be worth it when that promotional opportunity presents itself and you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself in the situation where a redundancy comes out of nowhere and you’re suddenly looking for a new job. I’m preaching to finance professionals here, so it should be easy for you all to see the opportunity cost in this situation. 

Two years of periodic study isn't a lot compared with being jobless for over twelve months.

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