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I want to be an accountant but have a few questions...

Veteran

William Anders Raleigh, NC

I have a supply chain management degree from Michigan State University but realized recently that I may be interested in accounting. Is it suggested that I get an accounting certificate, another undergraduate degree, or masters degree? Also, if I were to go back to school, what should I look for in a university? I would want to work with small businesses to assist them with their finances and plans.

12 June 2019 12 replies Career Exploration

Answers

Advisor

Mary Sheridan Park Ridge, IL

I am not an accountant; however, I have worked in the tax and accounting industry for 15 years and I can tell you there is a lot of opportunity here. 75% of the tax and accounting work force has been eligible to retire for over 5 years now. There is a staffing shortage of accounting and bookkeeping professionals. I hear this all the time from firms I visit for work.

Here’s a recent article that may be of interest:
https://www.accountingtoday.com/news/irs-faces-hiring-shortages-amid-workforce-attrition

Veteran

William Anders Raleigh, NC

Hello everyone, I appreciate each answer that has been given to me. I have taken a few weeks to let everything sink in and reflect. I have found an accounting career preparation course at North Alabama University that will allow me to fulfill my credit requirements. I am going to take these classes to see if I enjoy accounting. If I do like accounting as much as I think I will, I am going to study for the CPA and look for a career in accounting. I really do appreciate everything that everyone said! I also understand my supply chain management degree is very marketable and useful and I am not ruling out that I continue to use it. Again, thank you and I do plan to reach out to a few of you to ask about your CPA experiences.

Veteran

Shaun Rostek Reading, PA

I was in Supply Management during my time in the Marines (nearly 13 years of experience). I am currently in public accounting. My advice to you would be to decide whether you can and want to be in the Supply Chain Management field or Accounting. That is decision 1. If you choose accounting, like I did, you must decide whether you want public, industry, or government. That is decision 2. I can give you my take on public. I am in the audit department of a regional-sized accounting firm. My supply chain experience helped me tremendously in my field because I have experienced both sides of the process (auditor and auditee). I would make the 2 decisions above first because any decision you make may require a certain level of education or designation (MBA, CPA). Also check in your local market, the demands for each field along with average pay, hours, and advancement opportunities. If you want further help, you can reach me at s.rostek@yahoo.com. I would be happy to help.

Advisor

Keith Van Sickle Menlo Park, CA

Hello Lt. Anders,

One thing that struck me about your question is that you said you "realized recently" that you "may be" interested in accounting. For such a major career change, you might benefit by exploring your interest further before pursuing additional education or certification.

I suggest that you consider some informational interviews with professionals currently in the field, holding positions that you think you might be interested in. Ask them what their day is like, ask them what they like and don't like about their jobs, ask them how they got to where they are today--things like that. People are usually generous with their time when it comes to career advice, especially for military veterans. And let's be honest, people also love to talk about themselves.

Informational interviews can do a couple of things for you. First, they can help you get a real sense of the field and whether it is something you want to pursue. Second, they make contacts that can be helpful when it comes to job-hunting time.

Best of luck to you,

Keith

Advisor

Jim Kennedy Cherry Hill, NJ

Dear Lt. Anders,
Thank you for serving our country. We are free today because of brave people like you.
There are many career paths discussed here with good possibilities. Since you asked about accounting, though, and I am a CPA, I will address the accounting issue. First, there are basically three opportunities in accounting - public, industry and government, and I've done all three. I chose public, and these are my reasons, ie feelings, and not facts. Draw from them what you will to use what you deem relevant to shape your decision. At 35 I left a 16 year career as a French chef, and got a 2 year accounting degree. I got a job as a staff accountant for a year (public accounting) , and then took a Controller position (industry). I worked thru my Bachelors degree and worked for a 68 accountant CPA firm. It was fast paced, one phone call changed your day you never did the same thing twice in a row. Tax season was long, but the bonuses were good. I worked in government for 2 years at the IRS, where I was employee #26819, and I did my 8 hours, no more, no less, and went home. I liked the work, but felt kind of empty at days end. Eventually I started my own CPA firm, where Ive been for 16 years after gaining 10 years of experience. As a people person, I enjoy interacting, I enjoy guiding my staff, empowering my clients, and I feel like I make a difference with tax planning, retirement planning, career planning, and a little financial planning and estate planning. I work every day from 12/1 to 4/30 but next week Im taking my family for three weeks to Southeast Asia on vacation so its worth it in my opinion. If you want an accounting career, get your CPA license. You need 150 credit hours in most states to sit. Note you do NOT need a Masters degree, just 150 hours. I'm sure many of your credits would transfer, and you;d be closer to sitting than you think. When you are a CPA, it could add $10K to your annual salary right away. It changes the way people perceive you, and done right, you keep this title for the rest of your life. take a review class because the exam doesn't test on the every day stuff. They do, some, but they try and trip you up on other stuff that you may not see regularly. I got my license when I was 42, and Im 61. I am not unique. I repeat, I am NOT unique. I am just another example of hard work paying off. So if you want an accounting degree, and a career, consider strongly becoming a CPA. I am a 3rd generation one, and its worked out well for me. I even met my wife in college (she also has a degree in accounting).
Attached is the late Bob Monette who taught a CPA review class attended by tens of thousands until his death. Watch him, listen to his message and listen to the difference a CPA license makes.. He taught me. Oh by the way, spina bifida confined him lifelong to a wheelchair, but he was a CPA and an attorney, though his parents were told he would not live more than a few days! You can copy and pate this link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVe0b0f1Hts
Thank you again for your service, sir. My late father was a WWII Army Air Force Pacific Theater vet who suffered from PTSD for the last 64 years of his life after 56 skip bombing missions, so when I tell you I appreciate your efforts, I mean it as I have seen what war does to people.
Off line you can email me at jameskennedy.cpa@verizon.net. Im just outside of Philadelphia in NJ.
Respectfully,.
Jim Kennedy

Advisor

FRANCIS TEPEDINO, ESQ. San Diego, CA

Here is something to "Blow your mind"!

You have a good background in Supply Chain- Procurement, etc, etc, etc..

How about opening the Door to World Class Success???

Question: Do you want to be a small fish in a big pond, or a big fish in a small pond?

I do not mean simply preparing and looking toward more pay in a "ho- hum job" in the hierarchy.

Take the LSAT. (Law School Admissions Test).

If you do well, think about Law School. You are not too old - I started at the University of San Diego Law School at 38 years old and had a full time, very demanding job as Manager of Procurement, Contracts and Materials for a major corporation. I had to go to Law School nights due to my job, with a demanding wife, three kids, two dogs and a big house payment.

Law School and my other education and background blew away the competition in senior corporate management,.

It can be done if you really want to stretch out for the "Gold Ring".

Let me know if I can provide additional information.

Good luck.

Advisor

Rob Gasperetti Locust Valley, NY

Good morning Lt. Anders,

If you want to be self employed and assist small employers, you may need a CPA designation. At least, that would be a major selling point to prospective clients. Accounting has turned almost into a legal profession due to changing regulations. I would recommend an Associates or a certificate and then signing up with a temp agency to see if you like it. Then you could continue education while doing that. Not sure what they have in NC, but in NYC area there are several companies (Robert Half is national) and they are always looking for people. When I go to them, I usually get assigned college students or drop outs, so you would certainly stand out in that crowd.

Best of luck and thanks,
Rob

Advisor

Cary Grossman Houston, TX

I agree with the responses about your supply chain management background-valuable as it is. If you want to pursue accounting for the knowledge and/or corporate accounting you might look at just taking the accounting hours to add a bachelors degree. You could then self study to the add the CPA designation. If you are thinking of doing a stint in public accounting, I recommend you add the ours to get the Masters in accounting (1 year program on top of bachelors at most schools that offer it). In terms of schools, I'd look for the ones where the major accounting firms interview on campus as a guide.

Advisor

Abhi Raina New York, NY

Hi Lt. Anders,

I don't think you will need to do another bachelors degree. A masters degree in Finance/Accounting might be more useful as long as you can complete a few pre-requisites. However, if you want to start out without a long time commitment you can start with just getting your CPA. you can self study for it and sit for the exam and become a certified accountant and in the process figure out if this is something you want to pursue as a career. the guidelines on how to get a licensed as a CPA vary from state to state. below link is a good place to start.
https://www.ais-cpa.com/how-to-become-a-cpa/

Advisor

David Eastman Gresham, OR

Hello, Lieutenant Anders,

Thank you for your service. I am not discounting your high interest in accounting and accounting and finance can be and is a fine profession. But, I also think you should look
seriously at your supply chain management background and consider pursuing a career in it, along with additional expertise in materials control, logistics and project management.

If you look at any large corporation building products, i.e., Intel or even large retailers sourcing products, i.e., Amazon, what is apparent is that these businesses are very dependent on their suppliers, their supply chain, the logistics of getting parts and products to the place where products are manufactured or sold, and the need to project manage this effort from A to Z.

I only bring this up because my son is focused in these areas working for a Japanese semiconductor company and they are very dependent on the many daily decisions he makes regarding supplies, shipping, logistics, warehousing, just in time inventory, etc.

I think you have a valuable degree and it is unique and needed versus an accounting degree that is--and I am not dissing this important discipline because every business needs accounting as well as its employees--but I think your supply chain management skill sets have higher value and you will also find that your salary will be much greater and grow faster when you practice your profession.

Thoughtful regards,

David F Eastman, CEO, US Navy Veteran, ASW

Just a few thoughts.

Advisor

Chuck Burger King Of Prussia, PA

William, I like Candace's recommendation as you should leave no stone unturned. I would first look to your alma mater to research the requirement of each of your approaches, undergrad degree in accounting or MBA. Assuming some of your SC degree credits would apply to undergrad (not a slam dunk as academia is always looking for ways to part people from their hard earned cash! :) ) , find out how many delta credits you would need to obtain that degree. Then perform the same for the MBA. If there is a significant difference between the two I would look in that direction, If the requirements are similar (cost would not be), I'd go MBA as being the more valuable over the long haul, and potentially broader applicability.

Advisor

Candace McKinney Houston, TX

Not in accounting, but North Carolina State University actually has a military and veterans services program. https://veterans.dasa.ncsu.edu/about-us/overview/
I might suggest reaching out to their office and setting up some time to meet with someone on their team to talk about your goals. Whether it is a certificate or another degree - they might be able to give you some guidance. I would search for similar programs in the colleges near you!

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