USA Starting a new Career in Accounting - Questions

Which education option should I pursue towards a CPA?

  • Online Classes - Once you earn a CPA your education doesn't matter much

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Masters in Accounting - You don't want to be the only person in the room without a Master's

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other (comment below)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters

Nov 27, 2016
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United States
I graduated college about a decade ago with a Bachelor's in Business Administration majoring in Entrepreneurship and minoring in Finance. Since then I have worked for a large commercial real estate company and have become certified as a commercial real estate appraiser. I have appraised everything from vacant land in small towns to 10-story office buildings and large shopping centers in large cities. I enjoy the analytical side of it and I'm frequently working with income statements for commercial properties to determine the projected net operating income based on historical data, market information, and my own judgment/assumptions.

I have come to the point where I don't think this is a good fit long term as the emphasis is all on much you can bill each month (I work on straight commission albeit setup as a base salary with a draw) and the quality of the work is secondary. I'm the kind of person who finds it very hard to do anything less than my best and that takes more time and means I bill far less than my colleagues. My boss expects me to bill $20k a month and I'm normally around 15-16k while some of my colleagues are consistently at $30k or more. I frequently I end up working nights and weekends to meet a deadline and that's hard on my family. All to make about $55-60k a year without much hope of that increasing substantially.

I've been looking at other career options and accounting interests me. I like the idea of starting my own accounting/consulting company using my experience and network in the commercial real estate industry to build a business where I can focus on providing accounting and consulting services to commercial property owners and other small business I'm interested such as the brewery industry which is growing quickly. Nearly every income producing commercial property I've appraised had accounting services listed on their income statement so there's certainly a need there, even if it's just for tax filing purposes.

In order to get a CPA I need 15 more credit hours of accounting. I took some introductory accounting classes in college along with cost accounting and an income tax course so I already have 15 of the required 30 hours. I also have about 150 credit hours already. I can either earn 15 more hours more credit hours (five at three hours each) at the undergraduate level or go for a masters in accounting at the local state university and take 33 more credit hours. With either option I would need to take evening or online classes as I have a large family to support and I'm the sole source of income. The undergraduate courses at the local university are generally not offered online or in the evenings but there are several online schools that are less reputable such as the University of Phoenix which would meet the requirements but probably not look as good on a resume. The graduate courses are going to be more expensive but are geared towards working professionals and are offered entirely in the evening with some summer classes offered online.

So, my big question is which option should I pursue? Online classes that meet the minimum requirements or spend much longer and much more money to earn a Master's in Accounting from a state university? The former will be less expensive and faster, perhaps a year or year and a half. The latter will probably allow me to network and find a job where I can spend a few years learning the industry before going out on my own. It will take closer to three years, maybe two and a half if everything lines up. It will also provide me a better foundation and more preparation for the CPA exam.


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