February 19, 2020 at 11:23 am #2937261CatherineParticipant
I am ready to begin studying for these exams – I am in a Master's in Accounting Program at an Ivy (as an employee, so I only have to pay the tax on the imputed income), I have all the educational requirements met.
In my employment, I work in a very low-level clerical type accounting position – processing payments on purchase orders, processing personal reimbursements for travel and other business expenses, initiating purchase orders, tasks like that. It has been fantastic in terms of having the leftover mental energy to tackle my masters but it's kind of a dead end job.
Here are my issues / worries: I am 54, and will be 55 when I finish my masters. Is that too old for this field?
Ok, so that is the one worry.
On the positive side, my husband and I are empty nesters and could move anywhere in the country for a job opportunity, and my program has a very good career services office (much of which I have not explored because while my program is usually a one year program, I am taking two years to complete it: four semesters, because I work full time). My grades are great.
I've tried to move up here at my current employer, but have not had any luck – every job I have been passed over for, they have hired someone brand new to the university, which feeds into my worry I am just too old.
Thoughts, anyone? Of course my career office puts the best face on it: we have had success placing all kinds of people! We have a vast network of alums we can network with (all of which is true, BUT will it work for me?)
My goal is to have the exams finished or nearly so by graduation.
Thank you for any insight anyone can offer!February 19, 2020 at 12:00 pm #2937297Cobalt60Participant
You're not too old.
I was within a couple of years of you and accepted an assurance position at a big 4 accounting firm.
You will run into age discrimination. I had recruiters that would not look me in the eye. I was asked questions during interviews along the lines of how do the other students treat you?
You do have advantages over other candidates. Experience, maturity, balance. If you have a lot of experience work to get your resume down to just one page. Tailor your resume to the jobs you are applying for. It helped me greatly to work with our career counselor on my resume and overall career direction. It also helped me to find other non traditional students to talk to.
On balance you will have to evaluate if the job is really for you. Can you take direction from a 20 something year old? Can you say I love pivot tables in Excel, but find Tableau to be superior as a data presentation tool? There is also the paying your dues aspect of an entry level role as a CPA.
Where do you plan to go with the degree? Why did you decide to change life paths?February 19, 2020 at 12:10 pm #2937315CPA4lifeParticipant
No, you're not too old. The nice thing about being an accountant is, it's a type of profession that age is not so much of an issue as long as you keep up with your co-workers. You might have to go back to school, which I did recently, due to opportunities for possible advancement in my idle accounting career.
Education is never enough if you're in the accounting industry. As a background, besides my BCom (Accounting) USAgustin'85 and UBC-DAP (Accounting)'02/'19, and a few tax season jobs, in order for me to move forward in accounting. I have to do more schooling, so I decided to get my Canadian BBA-Accounting degree and pursue my Canadian CPA designation; at the same time, I kept my forever pursuit of the US CPA designation (grandfathered since 1998 – WA State).
It's good to be an accountant. I noticed, there are more accounting jobs these days than 12 years ago, and the hourly pay has been doubled, even other general employment jobs, the minimum pay has been double as well. I would like to use my last 15 years of working life and save for better retirement years.
Good luck to us, the 50s!:)February 19, 2020 at 12:14 pm #293731812tangParticipant
What cobalt said is spot on. I know of 2 students that I graduated with who were both older, I think late 40's and they secured positions at big 4. You will find discrimination because of your age, but with enough perseverance, you should be able to overcome it. There is a place for older employees, it just takes more work than it would if you were 20 something. It sucks and it's illegal to discriminate, but unfortunately they get away with it because it's super hard to prove. Show grit and you'll find something, just be patient.February 19, 2020 at 12:27 pm #2937351vbmerParticipant
You are absolutely not too old to become an accountant. I wouldn't bother looking at Big 4. Yes, sure, you could get a job in Big 4 audit, but what's the point? Big 4 audit is merely an investment you make for your later career, even if that involves transferring to another practice at your firm like Forensics or FDD.
There are a lot of great companies out there that will much more readily hire you, and offer you a better lifestyle, and hopefully a challenge. Or you could work in the public sector.February 19, 2020 at 12:38 pm #2937372jombeParticipant
Only concern I have based on my personal experience for older folks that apply for staff level positions is Excel. If you are good w/ Excel, I wouldn't let age be a factor at all. Make sure you at least have intermediate level of knowledge of Excel and you will be alright! 🙂February 19, 2020 at 12:56 pm #2937399AkritiParticipant
You will do amazingly well! Just go for it.
I already had my CPA from another country at the age of 22 and was doing good working with big4. I moved to US in 2018 and kept procrastinating and kept saying to myself that I am too old now to go back to books and study again ( Im 30 now and I feel so stupid writing this now lol but everyone considers them as old and that's just an excuse).
6 months in and I am already done with 3 exams! Doesn't matter what your background is or what your age is, you got to try 🙂February 19, 2020 at 1:24 pm #2937465CatherineParticipant
Wow, thank you everyone!
In my program, I am currently working on a class in Financial Statement Analysis that uses Excel, and a class in Systems Analytics for Accounting, which is essentially a class in Tableau.
If I am ever feeling like I can't do it – I am going to come back to your responses for an instant lift! Your words of encouragement are wonderful.
CatherineFebruary 19, 2020 at 1:34 pm #2937474Biff TannenParticipant
Age discrimination is real. If your trying to get into big 4, be ready to commingle with 22 and 23 year old “professionals” who still live like fraternity kids and like to brag on Monday mornings of how trashed they got with their “bros” the Friday before. Just being completely honest with this post. I was the victim of age discrimination and I was in my late 20’s! I can only imagine how it would be for someone in their 50s. Better yet, don’t go the big 4 route. I would go straight into industry or a small local firm if I were you.February 19, 2020 at 1:43 pm #2937498IcaritoParticipant
I will say, these exams are mentally draining. I am 34, and I have realized that these exams are exhausting mentally. I did not feel this exhausted when I previously tried in my mid 20s.
Make sure to give yourself a schedule that is not too demanding, with time to relax and give your brain time to recoup. Studying 4 hours every day after a 9 hour work day is super exhausting for me.February 19, 2020 at 6:39 pm #2937936Lindsey_p87Participant
I agree with Jombe, so much of accounting these days (especially in industry) is knowing how to use Excel to analyze data. Knowing Accounting is crucial too, obviously, but I've seen many older employees at my company get passed over for higher positions because they can barely copy and paste. Being computer literate is key to being efficient in today's world and keeping up with the younger generation of graduates.February 19, 2020 at 7:57 pm #2938059TncincyParticipant
No, You're not too old. I am 54 as well. I am determined to get those letters. I have tried many times but just needed a gut check to try until I pass. After I pass, I am going to attempt to convert my bookkeeping tax service of over 20 years into a CPA firm. Why I didn't do this when I was young? well, I didn't think I would need to, but the reality is the industry is changing and I must have more than one way to make money. The only way for me at my age to stay in this field is to become a CPA. It's not going to be easy, changing is not going to be easy, but I am willing to give it my best shot. First thing first, let's pass this exam, then who knows what the future hold. Good luck to you.February 20, 2020 at 5:08 am #2938422KrnDrParticipant
I think it is almost impossible being too old in accounting, especially if you keep an ear to the ground. Unfortunately, it's impossible to deny the existence of age discrimination, also. In my opinion, you have an advantage over younger candidates. Your experience, a more balanced approach, and other competencies you have considering your background could work for your benefit. So go for it, keep studying. And you do have what to demonstrate to your prospective employers when you will be looking for a job.February 20, 2020 at 4:36 pm #2937390CPA4lifeParticipant
I think in the next US CPA exam, I will use the Excel feature of the exam. I started using spreadsheets since the late 80s; first, Lotus 123 and then, MS Excel in since the early '90s. It's nothing fancy, just the simple table for personal budgeting, FS schedules and tax schedules.
Since I went back to school in 2018, I have been using it for homework assignments. Also, I noticed, in my current BBA-Accounting program, Excel is a must for some of my accounting, business, and finance courses.
Recently, I have a Statistics exam which involved using the Excel app; I didn't realize that the Student MS 360 Excel version app, which I use at home and my student account is completely different from the Excel spreadsheet in our college computer lab for the exam (offline). It was worth 10% of my overall mark, and an eye-opener for me to be aware that not all Excel apps have the same features.
I don't have must background with Statistics, thus when two of my undergrad young adult kids took it last term, I thought I could get some tutoring. Unfortunately, theirs is totally a different learning style; they used graphing calculator and not much of Excel for the exam.
Well, I just have to spend more time in my college lab and AICPA website for Excel Tutorial, since I realized, not ALL Excel apps are the same. I believe the only thing that is holding me back in my Canadian CPA accounting is Statistics. It's not so much with the US CPA exam since there's hardly any Statistics questions, except with Excel features in our US CPA exam, which is great for formulas.
Good luck with your Excel adventures!:)February 21, 2020 at 5:06 am #2939925bigstakkParticipant
The thing about accounting is it really takes a while to really start making money and your first several years are a usually a grind with awful work day hours. Depending on your retirement timeline it may not be ideal. Also, typically for entry level accounting positions it does seem like there is a bias for young straight out of college kids that are unmolded to any habits. Reporting to people half your age is going to be something you likely deal with whether you go into private or especially in public. That said I’d give it a shot since you already have one toe in the pool. There are various functions within accounting in addition to GL accountant and auditor/tax prep roles including payroll, AR and AP which are needed at every company so there are plenty of options depending on what your goals and appetite are for your career. Good luck!
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