Every accountant reaches this crossroads at some point in his or her career: Should I get my CPA license or MBA? Public accountants usually take for granted that they’ll get their CPA license, but the road to professional development isn’t always clear for those working in industry. In this article, we’ll walk you through the different considerations you need to make before deciding which direction to take your career.
When Should I Get My CPA?If your goal is to become a controller, getting your CPA is a must. You’ll also need public accounting experience, so you should be prepared to take at least a temporary pay cut to obtain the right credentials. When you’re still relatively early in your career, the salary decrease may hurt, but it’ll be worth it to move up the ladder later. You can get your license, join a CPA firm for two years, and rejoin the private sector after that. You’ll likely find even more opportunities this way, because working in public accounting and auditing publicly traded companies can provide the opportunity to get the technical expertise required for SEC reporting, technical accounting and revenue recognition positions.
When you’re still relatively early in your career, the salary decrease may hurt, but it’ll be worth it to move up the ladder later.However, if you’re a senior manager, going from six figures down to $5060k isn’t going to be appealing and may not even be feasible. Once someone has reached a certain compensation point, we recommend that they look into the MBA option even if the end game is becoming a controller. The MBA route is also more appropriate if you want to transition into finance.
When Should I Get My MBA?An MBA gives you a competitive advantage over your peers and creates new job options for both accountants and finance professionals . MBA programs enable you to further your business knowledge and expand your professional network. The ideal approach is to enroll in a top 20 school and either study full time or do an executive degree course that allows you to work during the day and attend classes at night. If those aren’t an option, look for a reputable local program that may not offer an elite program but still provides you with quality training and credentials.
No One-Size-Fits-All ApproachWherever you are in your career when you make this decision, we strongly recommend talking to a recruiter or mentor about your options. It’s not as simple as saying, “A CPA is best for these goals, and an MBA is right for this set of circumstances.” The choice depends not only on how you want to advance your career, but what you can afford in terms of lifestyle changes.
Wherever you are in your career when you make this decision, we strongly recommend talking to a recruiter or mentor about your options.A single young professional might be willing to accept a lower salary for a couple years while someone who is married and has young children may not have the freedom to take a lower-paying position. Recruiters can help you see the decision from different angles and make the most well-rounded call. At BVOH, we ask candidates a series of questions about their goals, priorities, and lifestyles to help them gain clarity on the best option. Both a CPA license and an MBA degree can boost your career progression and your earning potential, so deciding to pursue one shouldn’t be taken lightly. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but your current status – both personal and professional – can steer you toward the right one. And talking with a recruiter will help you feel confident as you embark on whichever road you choose.
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