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Should I sit for my CPA right after I graduate or focus on getting a job first?


Cpa-e1361011053445Vanessa at Fresno State asked:

I am an accounting major and will be graduating next spring.  Should I go for my CPA right after I graduate  – since I will have a lot of free time to study – or focus on getting a job first?

Hi Vanessa

There is not one correct answer to your question that suits everyone equally.  As with most decisions, there are many factors to consider, including:

Competition in the Job Market

Accounting graduates with a CPA have more opportunities available to them than do accounting graduates without a CPA.  A CPA is a well-known and valuable certification.  It literally defines your level of expertise in the field of accounting.  Not all accounting jobs require a CPA, but f you don’t have your CPA, you will not be a qualified candidate for those jobs that do require one. The market for accountants is stronger than it is in many other fields, but the more qualifications you have, the more competitive a candidate you will be.

The Cost of the Opportunity Taken

Can you afford to take the CPA right now? You have the time, but do you have the money? When you factor in examination and application fees, review/prep course fees, the Ethics exam and licensing fees, getting your CPA can cost up to $3000.  Can you afford that expense right now, or will you be better off working for a while  and saving up to pay for the exam.  It’s a great investment, but you you have the money to invest?

The Cost of Opportunity Passed

Can you afford to NOT take the CPA upon graduation?  Do you have the self-discipline to come back to it later?  Are there job opportunities that you will miss out on if you do not pursue your CPA immediately?  All things equal, is there a compelling reason for you to wait?

Personal Priorities not related to your Job

What else is going on in your life right now?  Do any of these things impact your career decision-making at the present time?  Your spouse/partner may be in career transition.  You may have a parent or child dependent upon you for support, care or assistance.  Are you tied to  a specific geographic location or willing to move for work?  What student loans and/or other financial obligations do you need to meet?

There are many factors to consider in making career decisions.  Do your best to make informed decisions that factor in all of your personal and professional needs, priorities and wants.

Good luck,



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