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Is becoming a CPA worth it?

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I am technically a Business Administration major with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship, but my neighbor (who owns his own CPA business) says I should get at least a minor in Finance and go on to earn my CPA license. All I really want to do is start my own small business and operate it successfully. Should I spend two to four extra years in school to become a Certified Public Accountant (assuming I can manage to pay for it and pass the notoriously difficult exam), or get my BA, start work, and see how I like it?

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5 answers

Brent D.’s Answer

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Kent


Great question. I agree with the other comments provided. You should pursue your passion. If opening a small business where your daily function is that of a CPA than you should definitely continue your journey. However if your skillset and goals lead you in a different direction, then focus on them. You can then engage a CPA to provide their services and expertise while you do what you do best!


Brent

Hi Brent, is it dollarwise lucrative to become a cpa ? Janes S. Translate
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Asia ’s Answer

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Hello Kent,
I commend you on the selection of your major. The suggestion from your neighbor is a wonderful thing. However, I suggest that you truly consider a license/certification in an area that you are passionate about. Often individuals pursue goals and dreams that are not their own and don't realize it until large amounts of time and money have been spent. If you have a plan to use your background as a CPA to generate capital for your long term business that is fine as well. The main thing is have a plan and contingency plans for that plan. If you haven't already done so, evaluate the type of business you want to own/operate, who will be your market, and what product or service will you be providing? If there is some connection with being a CPA then you can further validate your decision to pursue the CPA license.
Best Wishes on your decision.


Asia M-A

Thank you so much for your answer! You are right: I need a plan and a contingency plan. I will plan a fall-back in case Entrepreneurship and generic Business Administration fall through or prove to be not enough in my line of work. Kent S. Translate
Thank you, this is very insightful! Esther C. Translate
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Ann’s Answer

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If your goal is to own your own business, I don't think a CPA is necessary. However, if you intend to work for a large company in the accounting department at any point, then a CPA will be necessary.

Thank you for your answer, Ann! I am going to have an accounting internship this summer, which will give me the opportunity to better understand what I will need to work both for another company and for myself. But as you pointed out, getting the certification depends on where I want to go. Kent S. Translate
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R. Scott’s Answer

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I agree, with the above responses, if you are a risk taker, and want to start a small business, you need sales skills. Once it gets large enough you can hire a CPA. If you are conservative, a CPA is an awesome license to have. You can do corporate finance or accounting, or start a small CPA firm. Depends on what you mean by small business. I know a lot of small business owners that make a lot of money, but it's based on their marketing and sales skills, and has nothing to do with CPA.

Hi Scott, Thank you so much for providing your input on this important topic. As you said, it's all about finding the right balance between doing what you love and paying for what you love. Knowing both marketing and finance will put me in a good position as an entrepreneur. Kent S. Translate
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Reed’s Answer

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If your goal is entrepreneurship, then skip the cpa degree and focus on sales. The cpa will likely take you too deep into esoteric corporate finance totally unlinked to smb activity. By the time you're making enough sales to warrant that knowledge, you can definitely hire a cpa.


The giant caveat in my statement? Only follow this advice if you're comfortable with the basics of business administration (make more than you spend, on a cash flow and p+l basis) and you have the excel/quickbooks chops to keep it in line

Thank you so much for your advice! I love finance, but I really am not interested in doing it for a living--only as part of the bigger picture. I expect I will get a healthy dose of both sales and finance while working towards my BA and possible MBA. Kent S. Translate
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