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19
Connecticut CPA
g
July/August 2012
thestateregulations.Itdoesn'tmatter
ifyouattendedanIvyLeagueschool;
ifyouhaven'tcompletedtherequired
courses,youwillnotbeabletositfor
theexam.
Step 4: After undergrad,
focus on the exam.
When you read the regulations, you'll
learn that 120 credits will allow you
tositfortheCPAexam.Doitassoon
aspossible.It'sabigmistaketodelay
untiltheoffersstartrollingin;theymay
not.Remember,theCPAexamistech-
nicallytheentry-levelrequirementtobe
a CPA; don't wait until you're looking
forajobtorealizeyouneedtotakeit.
Being a nontraditional student means
youprobablyhavesomesavings.Use
themtopayforagoodreviewcourse
andfortheexams­dareIsay,out-of-
pocket! If it helps, think of it as pur-
chasing an intangible asset for your
personalbalancesheet,whichwillpay
royaltiesforyearstocome.
Keep in mind that there's also a self-
study ethics course requirement that
you might as well knock out while
you'reinexammode.
Step 5: Attack grad school
(or 30 credits above the
bachelor's degree).
You'll learn from reading the regula-
tions that you will need 30 credits
above the bachelor's degree to get
your CPA certificate ­ which means
graduate school. My advice is to de-
layituntiltheexamisoutoftheway,
if practical. Why do I say this? You'll
needthetimetostudyfortheexam.
When you do start looking at grad
schools, I have a specific piece of
advice that applies to nontraditional
candidates: specialize. Forget the
master's in accounting or business
administration. Pick something like
a master's degree in tax, finance, or
managementinformationsystems.
According to the American Institute
of CPAs (AICPA) website This Way to
CPA (www.thiswaytocpa.com), some-
thing like 80 percent of accounting
graduatesgoontogetamaster'sde-
gree in accounting, and we all know
there'snoshortageofMBAs.Thinkof
itlikethis:Ifyou'retryingtogetintoa
crowdedpartyandyouknoweveryone
isbringingpunchandsoda,wouldyou
bringthesamething?Myguessisyou
wouldbringsomethingelselikeanen-
tréeordessert.Inotherwords,having
specializedtechnicalskillsinaccount-
ingwillsetyouapartfromotherswhen
it'stimetolookforajob.
Thisbringsmetothelaststep.
Step 6: Get the experience.
Inmyopinion,thisisthehardestone
totacklewhenyou'reanontraditional
candidate. Up to this point, you con-
trolledyourowndestiny.Nowyouhave
toconvinceotherstogiveyouashotat
achievingyourdream!
Iwouldrecommendbecomingactively
involvedwiththeConnecticutSociety
ofCPAs.Youcertainlycan'tgowrong
byknowingasmanyCPAsaspossible.
The key with the experience require-
ment is knowing what kind of experi-
ence actually counts. The only way
toknowthisistoreadtheregulations
(Section20-280-24,tobeexact).You'll
learn that your experience can be in
public,private,ornonprofitarenas,as
longasitmeetscertainrequirements.
Inmostcases,youarerequiredtohave
twoyearsofexperienceunderaCPA
inordertoqualifyforthecertificate.
Conclusion
IfIwereabettingman,Iwouldwager
thatwhenmostCPAsvisualizeaCPA
candidate, they see someone who
wenttoafour-yearundergraduatepro-
gram, majored in accounting, did an
internshipduringsenioryear,landeda
jobbeforeheorshegraduated,andis
workingasanassociatewithhisorher
eyessetonmakingpartner.
I would venture a guess that most
people don't see a working mom at-
tendingcommunitycollegeoranewly
dischargedveteranlookingforacareer
outsideofthetrenches.Itmakessense
tovisualizethetraditionalcandidates.
After all, that's what makes them
"traditional." It's a fairly accurate
archetypeofthebuddingCPA.
However,there'sanotherbreedofcan-
didateoutthere­we'rethebreedthat
becameenamoredwiththisprofession
atalatertimeinourlives.Ihopefocus-
ing on these six steps will serve as a
roadmapforthatbreedofcandidate.I
believetheywilladdtoyoursuccess.
With that said, I welcome you to do
whatanygoodaccountantwoulddo:
testmyassertions.
CTCPA Pledge Brent Simeon is originally from Brooklyn, NY.
He received his GED from Schenck Job Corps Center in
1994 and served in the U.S. Navy from 2000-2006, stationed
in Kittery, ME and Groton. He currently works as a contract
specialist with Naval Sea Systems Command Supervisor of
Shipbuilding in Groton. He holds a B.S. in accounting from
Post University and is pursuing an M.S. in taxation from the
University of New Haven. He has two children, ages 13 and 12, who both
attend East Lyme Middle School.
Having specialized technical skills in
accounting will set you apart from
others when it's time to look for a job.