Like many closely-held companies, my employer ran into financial problems and decided to lay off some of the higher paid employees to try and quickly right the ship.
During my work history, I had been out of work once prior. In that situation, I had actually quit my job and started a new company. Unfortunately, my timing then was not great as shortly after, we entered the great recession. It was taking much longer to ramp up than I had planned and while that was happening, I was offered a full-time position. It was too good to turn down, so I took the job.
I can say that having both quit a job without another steady salary lined up and been laid off, I would go with the layoff any day. Once you get over the initial shock of the layoff, it’s a much better position to find yourself. This is especially the case if you can negotiate a severance package to provide time to figure out your next steps. If you want more guidance on negotiating a severance, consider purchasing How To Engineer Your Layoff, by Financial Samaurai.
Now That I’m Free, What Should I Do?
But back to my rebirth last summer. After the layoff, once I had a chance to process the situation, I started thinking about next steps. That’s when I launched this site. I knew writing was something I wanted to purse, but personal finance blogging was a new experience for me. I spent quite a bit of time thinking through what I wanted to say and I spent time developing the site. I wasn’t worried about getting anything done quickly, I was really just playing around.
After a few months, things did start coming together.
Fast forward and the result is what you see on this site today.
But now I am faced with a new opportunity.
In addition to this site, I also provide financial advisory and management consulting services. And in order to expand the capabilities of my advisory business, I am looking to add credentials, specifically I am planning to sit for the CPA exam.
But is a CPA worth it?
For those not familiar, the requirements for earning a CPA vary somewhat from state to state. But the essential requirements are the three E’s which include education (a bachelors degree with at least 150 credit hours including 30 accounting hours), experience (1 to 2 years working for a licensed CPA), and exam (need to pass the uniform CPA exam).
The good news is that it appears that I have met all of these requirements with the exception of the accounting classes. I need an additional 21 hours of accounting. There are a few different ways I can earn the required accounting credits:
- Community college
- Local university
- Online state school
- Online for-profit school
How Much Does It Cost to Get a CPA?
The criteria that I’ve established for evaluating these options is as follows:
- Cost. As I discussed in a prior post, the cost of college can be significant and varies quite a bit across different schools. For the four options mentioned above, the cost breaks down as follows:
- Community college – $90 per hour ($1,890 total)
- Local university – $300 per hour ($6,300 total)
- Online public school – $500 per hour ($10,500 total)
- Online for-profit school – $750 per hour ($15,750 total)
- Flexibility. The flexibility of taking classes online as opposed to the need to sit in a classroom ranks pretty high in the evaluation. While a portion of the community college classes are offered online, all of the local university classes are in a classroom. And obviously, all the classes at both the online public school and the online for-profit school are online.
- Time to complete. In that having a CPA will allow me to provide services beyond my current capacity, the longer it takes to earn the certification, the longer before I can begin selling these services. So again, this could be a significant factor in my decision.
- Credibility. Lastly, with the proliferation of online education, the question of credibility has become an issue. In the case of a bachelors or masters degree, having earned your degree from a credible school is vitality important. The time, money, and effort required to earn a degree shouldn’t be negated by the lack of credibility from the conferring school. But unless I plan on actually earning a degree rather than just taking the minimum classes required to sit for the exam, I’m not sure credibility is as much of a factor as the other elements.
What Is the Best Way to Earn Accounting Credits?
I can pretty quickly eliminate both the local university and the online for-profit options. Unless I plan on getting an actual degree, I’m not sure why I would spend the additional money to attend the local university rather than the community college. Similarly, I’m not sure what benefits justify the additional cost of the online for-profit school over the online public school.
That leaves the community college and the online public school options. Again, the cost difference of more than $8,000 between the two options is significant and difficult to overlook. If I can make the community college classes work, that’s going to be the best option.
The only caveat to this is the time to complete. I need to do additional research to determine how long the classes will take at each school.
What do you think? Is a CPA worth it? How much value can I put on the flexibility of online classes?