Need some advice on career in accounting

Discussion in 'Accounting' started by TAM, Jul 1, 2003.

  1. TAM

    TAM Guest

    Hi,

    I have a BS in Statistics with computer programming. For last six years I
    have been working in the field of web development. I was laid off from a
    company about an year ago and since then I haven't been able to find and get
    a decent job in IT. So I have been thinking about going back to school and
    have a career in accounting. I have been doing some research about the
    various certificate courses, diplomas such as offered by Education Direct
    http://www.edudirect-canada.com/accounting/ and degrees offered by
    universities such as Univ of Phoenix (found them very expensive than regular
    universities. Anyone know why they are so expensive? Has anyone taken any
    courses from Univ of Phoenix? I was wondering how good they are.) in
    Accounting, different designations like CA, CGA, CMA, CFP(Certified
    Financial Planner), CSC (Canadian Securities Course), etc.

    I am looking for some advice from all of you in the accounting field as what
    should be my next step. Would like to suggest any college, univ or course
    that I should consider. Which course should I do and what is the future of
    accounting profession. Is accounting field getting saturated or already
    saturated?

    Thank you for all the advice.
    TAM
     
    TAM, Jul 1, 2003
    #1
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  2. TAM

    A. L. Meyers Guest

    Tam, what about becoming an actuary? With your previous education and
    experience, that might be a more promising way to an addition
    qualification with market value.

    A. Lucien Meyers, CIA, CMA
     
    A. L. Meyers, Jul 1, 2003
    #2
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  3. Tam,

    Right now, I'm pursuing an Associate's degree from Ashworth College, located
    in Georga; it's a correspondence course where you read chapters at home and
    take online quizzes. If you like, I could send your name to them to let
    them contact you.

    Christine
     
    Christine Geary, Jul 1, 2003
    #3
  4. TAM

    John Guest


    before you start some "on-line" education in accounting attend a local
    professional meeting. I don't know about Canada but in the US there are
    regional / local CPA associations that hold monthly meetings and anyone can
    attend as a guest and get feedback on employment opportunities.
    I know one person with an MBA from "univ of phoenix", -- it's primarily
    for adding credentials to a resume, don't equate it with a real college,
    people hiring know about it !
     
    John, Jul 1, 2003
    #4
  5. TAM

    Joe Canuck Guest

    I'm in much the same boat with some key differences. I have 20 years IT
    experience but lack the university degree.

    That university degree gives you real head start with the CGA program if
    you want to pursue that route. The reason it gives you a head start is
    that a degree, any degree, is required as one of the requirements for
    the CGA.

    Link here: http://www.cga-canada.org/

    I'm considering starting at the lower end of it. Take some accounting
    courses and perhaps get an entry-level accounting job while working
    towards the bookkeeping certification... where I take it after that I
    don't know. I'm thinking my computer experience, particulary that with
    supporting corporate accounting systems, gives me perhaps a wee edge.
    Some places the bookkeeper also looks after the computer.

    Just my 2 cents worth.
     
    Joe Canuck, Jul 1, 2003
    #5
  6. First, Education Direct credits are NOT transferrable to any accounting
    designation programmes anywhere in Canada. Don't bother. Wish I knew that
    before spending 2 grand.

    For part time studies, get into the CGA or CMA. Check out their websites at
    www.cga-canada.org or www.cga-yourprovince.org, and www.cma-canada.org or
    www.cma-yourprovince.org.

    You can work and study at the same time. I know the CGA has co-study
    programmes with 2 schools (SAIT in Alberta and Laurentian University in
    Ontario) to get degrees (Bachelors in Accounting and Information Technology
    or Honours Bachelor of Commerce) which satisfy the CGA degree requirement.
    The CMA may have the same arrangements. The CA programme requires a degree
    as a prerequisite with your accounting studies as a postgraduate degree,
    then you article for a minimum of 2 years.

    Check out all your options.

    No idea about University of Phoenix.

    Check continuing education programmes as universities and colleges in your
    area. Many have accounting diploma programmes which allow for transfer
    credits to the CGA and CMA designations. The CGA in Ontario now allows for
    online assignment submission, and I believe they may be coming up with an
    online final examination as well (rumours).

    Good luck.


    --
    Stephanie Serba, AICIA
    Partner, Durham Business Outsource
    Accounting & Technology
    www.dbo.ca

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    Stephanie Serba, Jul 1, 2003
    #6
  7. TAM

    Gazoo Guest

    Why not look into your community colleges and University continuing ed
    programs for certificates and diplomas and keep your $ in your community and
    country?

    Make sure any courses ur gonna take are usable for your designations.
     
    Gazoo, Jul 2, 2003
    #7
  8. For what it's worth: I used to process tuition assistance applications for
    the U.S. military. The Univ of Phoenix is accredited and is as allowable
    as any under DoD rules.
    ***********************************************************
     
    Wm.\(Bill\) Warning, Jul 2, 2003
    #8
  9. TAM

    Joe Canuck Guest

    I've seen a lot of this sort of comment in here. I'm not suggesting this
    isn't good advice but...

    Not everyone *can* or *wants* to achieve the big accounting designation.
    Not everyone working in accounting *has* the big accounting designation.

    Pursuing a lower certification, diploma or certificate is one way to get
    started and achieve something. Very often that achievement as others
    have suggested can be applied towards a higher designation if the
    individual decides to pursue it.

    Not every organization in the country that needs bookkeeping/accounting
    type work done can afford or wants to hire designated staff.

    As an example one major corporation I worked at as the System
    Administrator had two designated people on staff... the Accounting
    Manager and the Vice President of Finance. The other 5 people in the
    department had some accounting experience but no formal training much
    less designation.

    It seems to me regardless of the designation that new people in the
    field will start out at the bottom... this only makes common sense.
    However those first few courses, certificate or lower level
    certification (CB) will at least get one started and perhaps that entry
    level position. What one does after that is up to them... going on to
    achieve a hire designation is certainly possible on a part time basis
    while employed.
     
    Joe Canuck, Jul 4, 2003
    #9
  10. TAM

    TAM Guest

    Hi,

    Is there any particular MBA Program that you want to suggest me?

    I know its a jungle out there when it comes to MBA. Yesterday I attended an
    information session by CMA Canada and they said that CMA program has more
    hands-on approach that most of the MBA's program lack. MBA is more
    theoretical. It seemed that people do MBA and other courses, and then they
    come back to become CMA. The interesting point that was told in the CMA
    information session yesterday was that the job market for CMA's is very dry
    right now just like in other professions. And as far as salaries go, they
    said that there are so many variables that it is hard to say. Even though
    the salary statistics was printed in the brochure they were reluctant to
    talk about it in front of the prospective CMA's. They said that they have
    seen good and bad CAs, CGAs and CMAs. The designation may help one to get a
    foot in the door but on the first day of work, it will be all up to a person
    and not the designation. Which is so true for any other job?


    This morning I was on the website of Athabasca University and found that
    they have an MBA program for CMAs and CGAs. What the heck? Is it like a
    merry-go-round? It is very confusing for someone like me who is trying to
    decide which course to take.

    Is CA, CGA and CMA similar things that many companies in software have come
    up with - Certification? Certification is a big business in itself for some
    of the companies. Some employers require that one has some certification
    (ICCP, A+, PMP, MCSE, MCSD, etc). Since I have been in IT for last six
    years, I can say from my personal experience that certification doesn't
    really mean that person is really good at it. It is just another thing on
    the resume to show up to employers and get a foot in the door. I am not
    sure if CA, CGA and CMA is same as Certification?

    TAM
     
    TAM, Jul 4, 2003
    #10
  11. TAM

    Joe Canuck Guest

    So you know where I am coming from... Initially took 1 year electronics
    followed by 1 year business studies (accounting) then went on to the
    computer courses followed by 25 years working experience in IT. During
    my career I have worked closely with accounting departments supporting
    their systems.

    Certification in IT isn't the same as an accounting designation. The IT
    certifications become worthless unless they are renewed due to the ever
    changing technology in IT.

    Accounting principles on the other hand don't change much from year to
    year so once you achieve the CGA designation you have it for life. I
    would imagine the one area of accounting where things change from year
    to year is taxation... however I suspect those changes proceed at a
    snail's pace compared to IT.

    Although it is subject to change, for what it is worth here is what my
    plan is at the moment:

    (1) Take a few entry level accounting courses at a community college
    with the idea of getting all the education requirements in for the CB -
    Certified Bookkeeper designation. Then try to get an entry level job in
    the area and after 3 years experience achieve the CB.

    (2) Once I have an entry level position I plan to continue my accounting
    education by completing a 1 year accounting certificate program then
    moving on to the 2 year diploma program. All courses taken in the 1 year
    certificate program are given credit towards the 2 year diploma.

    (3) The above studies will get credit towards the CGA. At this point
    should I decide to go for that the door will be open. That is to far
    into the future for me to predict at this point. My current goals are
    rather short term... to become employable at the entry level in a
    bookkeeping/accounting position.

    Here is why I like this path:

    (1) I become ready fairly quickly to start looking at entry level
    accounting positions. I feel my computer background gives me a strong
    advantage over those applying for the same positions. But at the same
    time my lack of experience in accounting is a distinct disadvantage but
    I am prepared to accept the entry level position as I realize I'm
    basically starting over with something new here.

    (2) At each step along the way I actually achieve something. After the
    basic bookkeeping courses and 3 years experience I achieve the CB
    designation... Certified Bookkeeper. After the 1 year certificate I
    achieve more advanced Accounting training and a certicate. After 1 year
    more study I achieve the diploma.

    (3) The studies I undertake will be given credit towards the CGA.


    I think those of us with computer backgrounds are well positioned to
    move into the accounting field. After all... accounting is no longer
    done by someone hunched over a paper journal with a pen or pencil... it
    is done hunched over a keyboard these days. :)
     
    Joe Canuck, Jul 4, 2003
    #11
  12. TAM

    Ab Guest

    Since you seem to be in Canada and I am in the US, I am not familiar
    with all the Canadian designations. My two cents had to do with
    profesional designations. Go for the biggest one. In the US it is
    the CPA designation. I am a CPA and MBA and never regretted it,
    eventhough I am not working in public accounting- I teach accounting
    and write articles about business in national magazines. I also do
    consulting.

    You never loose with education and certifications- the more the
    better. The CPA certification does open doors and the MBA is the
    extra topping. I would not be able to get the attention of
    universities, magazine editors and consulting people without these
    credentials. Whether you are good at your job or not is a different
    subject, but for me, you cannot loose with education. Be very careful
    who you listen to regarding your professional future. Many people
    just don't want you to get what they don't have or don't value.
    Follow your own instincts and do what seems best for you.
     
    Ab, Jul 4, 2003
    #12
  13. TAM

    Joe Canuck Guest

    Some of us have to do what is realistic and do-able.

    We can spend the rest of our lives getting educated or spend some time
    getting educated and the rest living.
     
    Joe Canuck, Jul 4, 2003
    #13
  14. Of course, that's only true in the discipline of accounting where
    about all the "theory" you need is the ability to add and subtract,
    and _possibly_ multiply.

    The MBA is hardly "theory-oriented" at all in comparison with other
    disciplines where the Master's degree is, as likely as not, the phase
    where you figure out whether you're actually up to doing the research
    necessary to do a Ph.D.
    Apparently they decided that they could improve tuition sales if they
    marketed a program this way.
    What with all the marketing spin that is going into sales of the CGA
    designation, it would be easy to mistake it as such. I suspect that
    the CMA designation is somewhat like a "big certification that takes a
    few years to get."

    Traditionally, the CA designation was actually a formal professional
    designation conferring specific license UNDER THE LAW, relating to
    professional accounting in much the same way that membership in your
    locality's bar association is necessary in order to practice as a
    lawyer, as an MD degree is required in order to practice medicine, and
    such. (Similarly, architectural designs must be signed off by a
    professional architect; engineering designs must be signed off by a
    professional engineer; only an ordained minister can officially
    preside over weddings; only an actuary can sign off actuarial analysis
    reports.)

    The fact that you could be confused about this suggests that the
    professional associations haven't been successfully communicating the
    value of their "licenses."

    But there are instances of the value of the "licenses" diminishing.
    The importance of professional engineering has virtually disappeared;
    few people trained as engineers are ever in a position to be able to
    "sign off" on anything, and in my jurisdiction, few bother wasting
    their time on the extra courses required to complete the designation
    they regard as worthless. (Or at least not worth bothering with the
    PEO "ethics/legal opinion" courses that haven't got anything to do
    with what they actually do.)

    In accounting, the same has happened, albeit to a lesser degree. You
    only use the legal powers of a CPA or CA if you are personally signing
    off on attestation opinions, and _that_ generally implies that you're
    a senior executive in a public accounting firm.

    Now, a "Mine Sweeper Certified Engineer" doesn't get _any_ legal
    powers attributed to him or her by the state, so that is surely a
    fundamental difference between MCSE and CA. But if the typical CA
    doesn't see their activities change very much, day to day, due to the
    legal powers conferred by the designation, they can be forgiven for
    not communicating the "vitality" of those legal powers...
    --
    select 'cbbrowne' || '@' || 'cbbrowne.com';
    http://cbbrowne.com/info/advocacy.html
    Theoretical physicist---a physicist whose existence is postulated, to
    make the numbers balance, but who is never actually observed in the
    laboratory.
     
    Christopher Browne, Jul 4, 2003
    #14
  15. I agree with Joe's course of action with 1 exception: if the CB designation
    requires one to take a course which is NOT transferrable to either an
    accounting certificate/diploma or the CGA, don't bother with the CB.
    Frankly, I have yet to see anyone asking for this. I don't think anyone but
    bookkeepers know about the Certified Bookkeeper certification.

    Word of warning. As a Senior Bookkeeper/Accounting Technician I see MANY
    firms wanting the world (3+ years experience, 3rd or 4th level CGA, Ceridian
    experience, AccPac/Business Vision experience ad nauseum) and wanting to pay
    this dream bookkeeper 11 bucks an hour. Sure that's ok when you are starting
    out, but once you've got 2 or 3 years experience (full-cycle to trial
    balance, payroll, general accounting, government remittances, post closing
    entries for year end etc.), don't sell yourself short.

    --
    Stephanie Serba, AICIA
    Partner, Durham Business Outsource
    Accounting & Technology
    www.dbo.ca

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    Stephanie Serba, Jul 5, 2003
    #15
  16. TAM

    Joe Canuck Guest

    I appreciate your comments Stephanie... thanks!
     
    Joe Canuck, Jul 5, 2003
    #16
  17. TAM

    TAM Guest

    Thank you all, for your suggestions. Next week I am going to attend the
    information session from CGA folks. I spent some time exploring the courses
    offered by the community college here in Vancouver. Their course is also one
    year long. Joe you were talking about taking accounting courses to get an
    entry level jobs in accounting. Can you give me an ideas as who is right
    person to talk to regarding the selection of courses. Because I have noticed
    that who ever I talk to says that their course is THE best. So I am not sure
    if I can rely on the student advisor at any college or organization. I wish
    I knew someone who works in accounting to get their advice on the courses
    but I don't know anyone.

    In short my question is how should I decide which course will give me an
    entry into the accounting job market? If the course is part time or distance
    education, even better because then I can do some work on the side too. I
    would prefer if I do work while I am studying for the accounting.
     
    TAM, Jul 6, 2003
    #17
  18. Start with introductory accounting or bookkeeping. This will cover financial
    statements,
    accounts receivable & payable, invoicing, the basics.

    Then either a cost/managerial accounting course, or introductory business.
    The cost accounting is good if you want work in manufacturing or reselling.
    The business course will give the basics on types of business in Canada and
    how they are set up and run.

    Take (if offered) a course on Simply Accounting, AccPac or QuickBooks. Where
    you want to find work will decide which you take first. SA and QB are
    smaller packages and typically used by smaller businesses, eg. sole
    proprietors and partners, or single owner corporations. They are easy to use
    and quickly learned. AccPac is for medium to large sized enterprises with
    more than 30 employees. It is a bit more complicated and requires importing
    of data into the GL from other modules.


    --
    Stephanie Serba, AICIA
    Partner, Durham Business Outsource
    Accounting & Technology
    www.dbo.ca

    REMOVE NOSPAM TO REPLY


     
    Stephanie Serba, Jul 6, 2003
    #18
  19. TAM

    Joe Canuck Guest

    Stephanie offers her good advice in response to your question to me.

    Keep in mind here that my experience is in the computer field... not
    accounting so I'm offering up what makes common sense to me and what my
    own research has yielded so far.

    I wouldn't think you'd go too far wrong with starting out on either a 1
    year accounting certificate or 2 year diploma accounting programs at the
    community college level. Don't bother with the 1 year certificate
    program if you don't get credit towards something else... 2 year or 3
    year diploma in accounting. Usually the start with accounting is the
    accounting basics or intro type course. I took this and a few more years
    ago but forget much of it.

    Now I suspect somewhere along the way with those 1 or 2 year programs
    that the requirements for the Certified Bookkeeper will be satisfied at
    least in terms of educational requirements. So, to my way of thinking,
    it won't hurt to pick that up along the way... heck if nothing else it
    will look pretty on the resume after 3 years working experience. :)

    I've noticed all courses for these programs are available via distance
    learning from Algonquin College in Ottawa. You being in Vancouver may
    have to check out Langara(?)... I used to live there but don't remember
    the college name anymore. Anyways the distance learning is good because
    you can proceed on your own without attending class. This will work for
    me since I'm several hours drive from any college offering this program.

    I'm hoping after a few courses I can start applying for entry-level jobs
    with some reasonable hope of getting one... then continuing my education
    once employed.

    Check out the Algonguin site: http://www.algonquinc.on.ca

    Click on "Distance Learning" on the left, then "Programs" to view the
    various programs offered via distance learning.

    Check the "FAQ" section regarding examination arrangements... doesn't
    matter much where you live as long as there is some educational
    institution nearby you could arrange to write the exams there.

    I'm seriously considering one of the accounting programs from Algonquin
    via distance learning.
     
    Joe Canuck, Jul 6, 2003
    #19
  20. Check out the CIB site: http://www.cibcb.com/home.htm The list of
    participating colleges is on the site.


    --
    Stephanie Serba, AICIA
    Partner, Durham Business Outsource
    Accounting & Technology
    www.dbo.ca

    REMOVE NOSPAM TO REPLY
     
    Stephanie Serba, Jul 7, 2003
    #20
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