Entry Level CPA job

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Kevin S. in Pasadena, California

26 months ago

Vinita in Providence, Rhode Island said: Oh thanks a ton for clarifying that..Good luck with your exam!! I have another question. Is it true that you will not be considered as having completeed your CPA (after clearing all 4 parts) until you work in a public accounting firm?

The 18 months start from the time one takes the test and not from when one passes. For excample, if you took the test on March 3rd and got the results on April 25th that you passed your March 3rd test, your clock starts ticking march 3rd NOT April 25th.

Hope this helps.

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JM in Fresno, California

25 months ago

I think it should be noted that passing the CPA exam and getting your CPA license are not the same thing. Passing the exam is just one of the requirements, it is not the only requirement. You are not a CPA until you go through the entire process and your state board approves it. I believe in general a person must pass the exam, meet the experience requirement, and also pass an ethics exam [which is difficult but nowhere near as hard as the CPA exam.[

Although there may be some very limited exceptions, almost every state in the US requires you to work under the supervision of a CPA for a certain amount of time [1-2 years] and have them sign off on your paperwork before you can apply for your CPA license. You have to meet this experience requirement in addition to passing the CPA exam.

None of this is cheap, which is why it's usually a good idea to wait until you either already have met the experience requirement, or are currently in a job where you are meeting the requirement before you get too wrapped up in trying to pass the CPA exam. The last thing you want is to spend the money and put the time in and pass the exam, but still be hung up due to not having the experience working with a CPA.

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Chicago in Des Plaines, Illinois

25 months ago

Well said. I learned the hard way.

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Irene in San Jose, California

25 months ago

Thanks for the information. Unfortunately, I am one of those fools who didn't have work experience and spent a lot of money, energy, effort and time into passing the CPA exams and now I am stuck. I can't get the certification. I hope someone out there will learn from my mistakes.

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Haylee in Prescott, Arizona

25 months ago

Keep your chin up. If you are able to pass the CPA exam, you should be able to find an accounting job, even if that job does not begin to add to the 1,500 working hours required to be certified as a CPA. It is merely a stepping stone for you eventually find a job that will meet that criteria. You may even volunteer your time to do taxes and working for a CPA or CPA firm and earn your experience that way. Once you have that to put on your resume, then there will be more opportunities coming your way. Google volunteer opportunities in town where you live. I used to work for Catholic Charity Church where I prepared income tax returns for low income taxpayers and that experience looks very nice on my resume and I did received a few job interviews since May this year when I passed all 4 portions of the CPA exam. Meanwhile, I am trying to pass the enrolled agent exam to find a job with H&R Block, improve my Excel skills, etc. I understand your situation since I'm currently in the same boat. But I am very much willing to work for a minimum wage or even without pay to earn my experience...I am even thinking about advertizing on a local newspaper to offer to work for free...

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Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

25 months ago

Nick got the job!

I hope everyone else gets the job that they want also.

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Rob in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

25 months ago

Well, here in PA you have to get in a couple of years experience and 150 hours of education before you can even sit for the CPA exam.(All states have different requirements to sit for their CPA).
Another thing to do is research the kind of jobs that an accountant is needed for, there is some jobs that the accountant does not work with money like ALCOA who use accountants to keep track of materials, what is coming in, what is being used where, and what is going out the door, and that is it and they do not do deal making, they do not do sales, they just keep track of the materials and make sure everything that comes in goes out and all waste and recyclables, you have to be very open minded to different industries, I even watched this report awhile back on job placement, the employment agency had this client they placed at this accounting firm and he hated everyday going in, he could not stand the culture, his call offs were starting to get out of hand, they talked with him, and talked with him, they found out he was actually planning on quitting the accounting field completely, but they told them give them a few more months to try to find him something better for him, they asked what his interests were, what he dreamed of doing when he was younger, plus what things he have enjoyed doing in his life, the one thing that kept coming up is music, so they were able to find him a job at a record company and he was happy as can be, the employers liked him so much they hired him right away. You see just getting a job is not enough, not every accountant works at a firm, plenty of them makes good money with good benefits and it is in the industry they love, there is people who works in the movie industry, and they do not make movies, you do not have to be a scientist or engineer to work at NASA. Good luck.

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Patty in Elgin, Illinois

25 months ago

I agree with Rob in PA. Accounting is a highly diverse career field. There so many industries out there that need accountants. I have worked in higher education, government, private corporations, private holdings companies, small family businesses, retail, and audit firms. I actually thought that being a movie accountant would be an interesting pursuit. It dawned on me one night while watching the movie credits and it came up to name the accountants. I am currently unemployed and have decided to apply to non-profits that I feel passionate about as well. It will give me an opportunity to complete a job, pay my bills, and feel good that I helped others. I have decided to hold off on completing the CPA exams until after I have a job and build up my savings again. Besides, I can gain more experience and take time to study for it without pressure.

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Patty in Elgin, Illinois

25 months ago

Also, the companies requiring candidates to know all possible accounting and data entry software programs are a bit excessive. I have walked onto the job numerous times and picked up new software quickly. My experience has been that once I learned one system, the others were not at all difficult to figure out.

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Charlotte in Los Angeles, California

22 months ago

I need some advice. I've been trying to find a public accountig job for the past two years and still no job. I graduated from college four years ago and went into banking and financial/service industry. I don't know why it's so difficult to find a tax position. I'm studying for the exam, but dont I don't think simply passing the exam will help me obtain that tax job. I've been working as a accountig clerk this past year and its not getting me anywhere. I feel like giving up sometimes since its disappointing when I'm doing everything and seeing no results. What should I do?

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Joe in Pinckney, Michigan

21 months ago

Charlotte in Los Angeles, California said: I need some advice. I've been trying to find a public accountig job for the past two years and still no job. I graduated from college four years ago and went into banking and financial /service industry. I don't know why it's so difficult to find a tax position. I'm studying for the exam, but dont I don't think simply passing the exam will help me obtain that tax job. I've been working as a accountig clerk this past year and its not getting me anywhere. I feel like giving up sometimes since its disappointing when I'm doing everything and seeing no results. What should I do?

It truly is not what you know, but who you know. Unless you are being recruited from college, best chance is to network your way in. Join some professional organizations, and build relationships with ppl who are either in public accounting, or currently have contact with those in public accounting. They will be able to push your resume to the right ppl, and vouch in your behalf, which is key.

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Alice105 in New York, New York

20 months ago

Anthony in Elmont, New York said: I honestly thought I was the only one in this situation (same as everyone else, BBA in Accounting , CPA candidate, parts passed, entire exam passed). I'm in shock there is many accounting graduates having trouble finding firm jobs. I don't think it's necessary to work in a big firm, but any firm at this point. I live in the NY Metro area and want to give up also. I have used Becker and failed all 4 parts. You have to study non-stop to pass this exam. I put in about 300 hours for exam. I believe that it's because I'm not working in public accounting. Devote your in entire life to passing the exam and you will pass. I wont give up, I'm 22 and will continue to study everyday until a pass in the near future. I know many people who have taken the exam multiple times. Since I graduated this past summer the public accounting job market has been frustrating. What's even amazing is that I know many people and friends without experience who have jot got jobs in public accounting. Some won't even study for the exam. I'm not giving up. Remain positive about yourself, ask the question though: Do you really want to work in public accounting or become a CPA? I'm answering that question everyday. In the mean time I have been applying for corporate job as I have had interviews with them. Firms and companies are hiring just I think people just us aren't confident about ourselves and the job market. Good luck to everyone as I hope you pass the exam and get your job in public accounting.

If u don't mind me asking what college did u attend and do u have a job yet?

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Pat Illinois in Chicago, Illinois

20 months ago

You are quite right that it is who you know to get in. What you know keeps you on the job. Acquaintances who work at a large bank have told me that applying online is a waste of time. The only way to get in with this particular company is through the employee referral program. I was recently let go from a temporary position with another employer when the supervisor decided to hire an unemployed friend. Although the employer stated I had a stellar performance, preference will go to 'known' persons rather than a new candidate/employee. An unfortunate reality is that it is not necessarily what you do or do not know. Even when you have already scored the position. In the past, I have landed interviews and position roles due to my education and experience. Now, I have to switch gears and network aka sales. It is disheartening as I like to go in on my abilities not who I can talk up. Then, again it may be a lesson in learning the 'soft skills' such as how to be a salesperson.

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blng_blng in Huntington Beach, California

19 months ago

does anyone else see the number of foreign born people (on this site) who are allowed to compete for american jobs as "problematic"?

imo; the scenario where an american looking for a job in america who A: wants a job. B: qualifies for a job C: cannot find a job...
I have a BS in Information systems and a Masters in Accounting and Financial Management and I am almost to the point where I think my Masters was a waste of time (and money)…

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talking in Atlanta, Georgia

18 months ago

blng_blng in Huntington Beach, California said: does anyone else see the number of foreign born people (on this site) who are allowed to compete for american jobs as "problematic"?

imo; the scenario where an american looking for a job in america who A: wants a job. B: qualifies for a job C: cannot find a job...
I have a BS in Information systems and a Masters in Accounting and Financial Management and I am almost to the point where I think my Masters was a waste of time (and money)…

Respectfully, I have never had a problem finding an accounting job. Most employers prefer an American just because of english skills and less paperwork. If non- natives are beating you out for a job, then you may want to consider the reputation of the college you went to, have a professional fix your resume, make sure you have good work experience (in IT , experience/ or someone to vouch for you is key). I believe a masters only helps if you attend a physical university and make connections while there. The exception is if you work for a government employer who will give you a raise or promotion bass on it. Merely attending college rarely qualifies you for actually performing a job. A degree may be a requirement but it just demonstrates your willingness and potential.

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CPA in Spokane, Washington

18 months ago

The job market is getting down right scary. A little background on me...I am an actively licensed CPA, have a bachelors in business accounting, master of accountancy, and 2 years of public accounting experience. I made two mistakes: 1) I quit my accounting job. 2) I turned down the offer of reemployment. I was making $45k-$50k.

Unless you have the above credentials and 10-20 years of experience, good lucking getting a job with a liveable wage. Time and time again I get beat out in interviews by candidates with 10-20 years of experience who used to make $70k + who are now willing to work for $40k. The accounting rush is over, do yourself a favor: either don't waste your time in college, or get an engineering degree.

I'm tempted to become an apprentice electrician or something similar, seems many blue collar jobs pay more than nearly any college educated job unless you work your way to the top of a company.

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Nick L in Medford, Massachusetts

18 months ago

@CPA -- I never went into public account my experience in investment & fund accounting and now find that I am virtually unemployable. I bought 3 FedEx Home Delivery routes, I am an independent contractor and net around $1200 - $1600 a week after all expenses. I can't exactly put this on my Resume because lets face it -- would be considered too 'low class' or 'ghetto' as many of the elite like to class any type of work that well you know I don't have to explain here.

I am still actively looking but find that the requirements for most positions are ridiculous -- you need 5 + years experience in a specific industry, must know usually several specialized software packages such as SAP in addition to standard Excel, Access, Oracle 11i, plus of course have a very stable work history.

And people working for $40,000 a year? Here in the Boston area, $100,000 is equivalent to minimum wage for one person. Even netting $1500 a week, I am in a financial straightjacket, things like vacations, concerts, going out on Friday or Saturday nights? I haven't done any of those things in over five years.

I thought about the electrician trade but you are competing with kids in their early 20's for the few apprentice spots available that usually only open up in November.

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Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

18 months ago

Nick L in Medford, Massachusetts said: @CPA -- I never went into public account my experience in investment & fund accounting and now find that I am virtually unemployable. I bought 3 FedEx Home Delivery routes, I am an independent contractor and net around $1200 - $1600 a week after all expenses. I can't exactly put this on my Resume because lets face it -- would be considered too 'low class' or 'ghetto' as many of the elite like to class any type of work that well you know I don't have to explain here.

I am still actively looking but find that the requirements for most positions are ridiculous -- you need 5 + years experience in a specific industry, must know usually several specialized software packages such as SAP in addition to standard Excel, Access, Oracle 11i, plus of course have a very stable work history.

And people working for $40,000 a year? Here in the Boston area, $100,000 is equivalent to minimum wage for one person. Even netting $1500 a week, I am in a financial straightjacket, things like vacations, concerts, going out on Friday or Saturday nights? I haven't done any of those things in over five years.

I thought about the electrician trade but you are competing with kids in their early 20's for the few apprentice spots available that usually only open up in November.

So what's the game plan for you?

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Nick L in Medford, Massachusetts

18 months ago

don't know at this point

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CPA in Spokane, Washington

18 months ago

Nick L in Medford, Massachusetts said:

I am still actively looking but find that the requirements for most positions are ridiculous -- you need 5 + years experience in a specific industry, must know usually several specialized software packages such as SAP in addition to standard Excel, Access, Oracle 11i, plus of course have a very stable work history.

I'm in the same boat. Every employer wants 5 + years experience and for you to know every last thing about their ERP or other software. Prior to interviews, I always research the hell out of the ERP software that a company is using, but it doesn't do any good. I even watch youtube tutorials to get a real sense of what the ERP or other software does. In the end I always get the "you have great initiative, but we found someone who has used X software for 10+ years. We would like you to apply with us for future openings".

I tried getting back into public accounting, but am told I am unhirable because the "going rate" is ~$35k and they're concerned I would quit when a better paying job came along. Keep in mind I have an active CPA license.

Partially unrelated, excluding California the cost of living is much cheaper over here!

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CPA in Spokane, Washington

18 months ago

Yes Mr. Bernanke and Mr. President, THE RECESSION IS OVER! *Cough Depression*

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blng_blng in Huntington Beach, California

18 months ago

talking in Atlanta, Georgia said:
1: Respectfully, I have never had a problem finding an accounting job.

2: If non- natives are beating you out for a job, then you may want to consider the reputation of the college you went to

3: have a professional fix your resume, make sure you have good work experience (in IT , experience/ or someone to vouch for you is key).

4: I believe a masters only helps if you attend a physical university and make connections while there.

5: The exception is if you work for a government employer who will give you a raise or promotion bass on it.

6: Merely attending college rarely qualifies you for actually performing a job. A degree may be a requirement but it just demonstrates your willingness and potential.

1: You should bottle whatever it is ur doing, and sell it.

2: I went to a Cal State school. I know several U$C grads who cannot find jobs. People with jobs have very little sypmathy for people without a job and always seem to suggest that it is something you (the person without a job) are not doing correctly. If applying for over 300 jobs in the past 12 months is not doing enough, then I am at a loss...

3: Done that, 3X. Resume "taste" is per the discretion of the HR person reviewing your resume. The best "resume" is a referral.

4: Agreed to an extent

5: That is true. I have only noticed county jobs (the Sheriff Dept and Police Forces) who actually give you a pump in pay for degrees. It typically is in the 5% rang for each. For all the trouble it takes to even get a CPA License, the County of Los Angeles only pays an additional 5% for it...

6: I think every college should have that explained to every incomming freshman class...

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blng_blng in Huntington Beach, California

18 months ago

talking in Atlanta, Georgia said: Merely attending college rarely qualifies you for actually performing a job.

I could see the entire college system collapsing over-night actually...
Kids are not stupid...
They see the trends...
A college degree no longer gaurantess anything (but debt)...
IMO: High School is what is worthless, or more a waste of time...

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J.K in United Arab Emirates

18 months ago

J in Los Angeles, California said: I think it got cut-off. It continues from my earlier post...

Eventually, one person responded (not in the same office I got the offer from), forwarded my resume to the office near my area, and the same day, I got the phone call from the Big 4 recruiter. I mean, I’ve tried 3 years to get that phone call and it didn’t work, and with couple of e-mails back and forth with one hiring manager at another office has referred me and I received a phone call. I was fortunate enough to be referred to one of the division that handles bank internal audits, which I will be able to utilize my experience from the lending field. I just put in my 2 wks with my current bank employer, and I am waiting for my first day with Big 4.

I know people say there are not much things to do even if one passes all 4 sections of their CPA exam and it is extremely difficult to get into the accounting field, but just letting you know, there are ways. I graduated from top 50 college in US (nothing impressive), with Econ major (not even an accounting major). Just thought it would be nice to share with all you guys and give you hope (not a false hope). I’ve enjoyed and will continue to enjoy reading this forum, and good luck to all of you on this forum here!

Thanks. My daughter is a new immigrant and graduated from American University in the middle east. She has been struggling for almost 8 months to get any job in accounting in ILLINOIS, but so far she has failed. We are really disappointed and I am thinking to get her back to the middle east. why do you think the reasons ?

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jd in Redmond, Washington

17 months ago

I have had limited experience in Accounting mainly like 6 months as a temp, I am working on taking the CPA exam, anyone have any tips or success in getting a job after passing the CPA exam with limited experience?

Thanks

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beginagainla in Bakersfield, California

17 months ago

(Long sigh).... crossing off CPA from my list of possible career choices. Always informative to come to this site and read what's REALLY going on in certain fields. It's saved me from wasting $ and time in school.

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Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

17 months ago

J.K in United Arab Emirates said: Thanks. My daughter is a new immigrant and graduated from American University in the middle east. She has been struggling for almost 8 months to get any job in accounting in ILLINOIS, but so far she has failed. We are really disappointed and I am thinking to get her back to the middle east. why do you think the reasons ?

I would imagine that most American companies don't feel comfortable hiring someone with an Accounting degree from another country. And it probably doesn't help if she doesn't looks and sounds like a typical American.

Maybe she should try getting a job in an accounting dept of a small US company and while there study and take the Illinois CPA exam. With that license she can go get a better accounting job. The license makes her credible.

She will have to check the requirements in sitting for the CPA. Not sure if she qualifies.

When I say small company I mean one where there's really only 1 accountant that handles all the financial transactions but the company also needs to hire an assistant to the accountant. It probably wouldn't pay much...14 dollars an hour.

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still retired in Texas

14 months ago

k

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Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

14 months ago

Are you surfing the internet for men tonight.

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Ankit Singhal in Kolkata, India

8 months ago

paul in Bronx, New York said: Thats a great idea. I went to a few events & made some pretty good contacts. It helps keep you sharp.

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Oceansuz in Costa Mesa, California

7 months ago

I graduated from Cslifornia State University, Los Angeles in September of 2009 with a B.S. in Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting. I was a straight A student, I was an officer in Beta Alpha Psi, I networked, and I applied to tons of internships. My mom died in my senior year, and I had been taking care of her the whole time I was in college, but that didn't stop me from continuing on (the accounting chair advised that I stay in school to help deal with the grief). I applied for every job imaginable and did on campus recruiting. I did VITA at a senior center, and went back and did more campus recruiting. I felt I was not well received by the recruiters. I had just turned 35 when I graduated. I always thought it was my age, but I have always looked 15 years younger, so I think it was more about my weight. You have to be very thin to get just about any office job here. I thought of getting my Masters at UC Irvine, and get my CPA but after reading every single post on here, it just kind of confirms what I already know, the accounting rush is over. I've talked to recent grads, people who have tons of experience, and employers at interviews....it doesn't look good. The only accounting job I was able to get was off Craigslist as an accounting assistant. They wanted me to do so much for $11 an hour. I left because I was yelled at every hour of the day, the boss was firing everyone and making me do more work, and then he fired my trainer and expected me to take over. I wan't fully trained because my trainer was doing work of another girl that was fired and didn't have time to train me. Right now I am on my third temp job (they're more like projects, and you move to the next). Am I really going to pay all that money for a Master's just to get a "chance" at an internship or a recruiting piece? And then get turned down because I'll be 40? Thanks for all your stories, I think I am too bitter and mad to even continue my education in accounting.

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The Finance Writer in Georgetown, Texas

7 months ago

I’m not sure what a “typical American” looks and sounds like, but maybe Joe in Monticello has some special insights that I lack. I also don’t know why a person’s weight would matter in performing accounting tasks and expect that the difficulty for Oceansuz is that she doesn’t appreciate the difference between a CPA and a person with an accounting degree.

The high demand for accountants is mostly limited to experienced CPAs or new accounting grads with high GPAs who are CPA candidates. The latter have limited work history beyond internships and are therefore easily induced to perform grueling duty during the busy season for accounting. Their payoff is higher compensation after passing the CPA exam.

For those people who are old – like past 25, which BTW is less than half my age – going back to school for an MBA and even completing the CPA exam is not the optimal career path in accounting… too much labor competition. But hope for professional work with an accounting firm is available to anyone with tax knowledge. Small local practices headed by one or two CPAs cannot find enough talent to work in their growing operations.

The focus is tax preparation but plenty of bookkeeping is also required. They will hire people with little experience who have proven tax expertise. Fortunately, that is accomplished by passing the Enrolled Agent exam. This is an easier credential than a CPA license, but is perfectly suited for working at local accounting firms with a tax concentration. Check out the free sample exam questions at fastforwardacademy.com/index-page-free_trial_embed.htm. Plenty of people I know with undergrad accounting degrees have pursued this direction and are happily employed with good earnings – $25 to $30 per hour in small town USA; probably a lot more on the east and west coasts.

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BethS in Florence, New Jersey

7 months ago

I'm going on 30y/o, 6 years experience in medical lab, and a bachelors in Animal Science. Just started taking a community college intermediate accounting course and I'm planning on pursuing a Masters at Strayer to be eligible to sit for CPA in future. I don't need the CPA certification, I'd be very happy with making 60k doing bookkeeping for all I care. I currently make 40k and there's no hope at increasing that to 50k without getting certified to work in hospitals. Forums are full of accountants seeking work and certified lab techs complaining about the same. What are the options for making at least 50k-60k in NJ? At this point I've learned that a job is a job and the minimum pay and availabilities are what's important.

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BethS in Florence, New Jersey

7 months ago

Oceansuz in Costa Mesa, California said:

So what will be your next step?

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oceansuz in Costa Mesa, California

6 months ago

I went on a couple of interviews recently for small CPA firms in the area, and it is safe to say they were not impressed by me. They repeated my high school graduation date over and over. Suffice it to say I am almost 40 and I have accepted that I will never get into accounting. I am currently reading Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person. Accounting would be a good choice for me if I could work for a nice boss, but that would be highly unlikely because hothead bosses have more job turnover and more open positions. I am considering massage therapy, and maybe eventually going back to school to be a therapist. I will not work for psychotic bosses who abuse me, but they are more than welcome to sit in my chair someday and talk about their childhoods and anger issues.

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The Ox of the SOX in Columbia, Maryland

4 months ago

Can't find a accounting job? It has nothing to do with the KSAs, so don't get so depressed and down because of it.

1. Due to stagnant economy of the past decade, most accounting manager's combat against job insecurity today is to hire of unqualified non-accounting grads in the private sector. This led to a frenzy of non-accounting background folks in private sector accounting jobs. Your best shot is in the public sector because they really test your accounting knowledge before hiring you.

2. The accounting rush is over because companies have fully adopted to the SOX (which was originally enacted in early 2000). In other words, companies have reached the end of the learning curve and staff was adjusted accordingly (we all have to remember it was the SOX that created the accounting rush).

3. Connections. Connections. Connections. People like it that way because it comes back to the job security issue, your friend is less likely to replace you. It is also the issue about being at a comfort level with someone you already know or worked with in the past.

4. No offense. I think it a long shot for minorities to land white collar jobs in the small to midsize private sector companies today unless you really possess a irreplaceable KSA that is needed at the firm.

5. Keep trying.

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