CPA vs MBA

george_costanza's picture
Rank: Baboon | 103

For climbing the corporate ladder, do you think a CPA or an MBA is a better decision, or would I need to get both?

After doing a lot of thinking, I think I've come to the conclusion that banking just isn't for me. I really don't think I'm cut out for the lifestyle and I've realized that I really enjoy accounting and management more than bonds/trading and all that finance stuff. Therefore, while I don't want to be a public accountant, I think being an internal auditor or getting into budgeting/managerial/strategic arenas with a corporation is something that I would enjoy and what I want to go for from here on out. Therefore, I'm wondering what would be the better field to pursue, especially since I'm an accounting major. Would I need to get both, would the CPA be a waste of time, or is the MBA worthless if I have a CPA?

thanks, sorry for the long post.

Comments (11)

Mar 25, 2010

A CPA is never worthless. You can always get a job with it and there are alot of unemployed MBAs. However, big money is MBA. But, if you like accounting, get on with the best firm you can and do what they want you to do. Hunker down and pass the CPA exam. Then grab the CFO job of one the firm's clients.

Mar 25, 2010

yeah if you get your cpa and go to an accounting firm you'll def. be able to land a corp. treasury position and get in line for the old guys to get out of the way to being cfo

Mar 25, 2010

I was wondering the same thing too. Also, does anyone know if one can call himself a "CPA" even if he isn't licensed but passed the test?

Mar 25, 2010

lol actually I sat next to a guy last summer who got a call from hr one day saying that he hadn't been keeping up with his cpa requirements or something along those lines. he still said he was a cpa, but i think the firm was disagreeing because his role required a cpa and i believe that is where the beef was coming from (He was flipping out for like the entire week after that)...but im not really sure just thought it would be a good story

Mar 25, 2010

@traderx...Even if you pass all four parts of the exam you can't call yourself a "CPA" until you meet the experience requirement of 1 year.

Mar 25, 2010

Correction: The experience requirement varies by state. I know that for NY its one year.

Mar 31, 2010

If you want to focus on the accounting side (at least early on), all you need is the CPA. That's why I went for it. I know people who went from undergrad to Big 4 accounting, got their CPA, moved up the ranks and are now CFOs of publicly traded companies. While public accounting isn't the greatest, it speeds up the career track quite a bit. Big 4 firms have internal audit groups as well that typically work less than the external guys.

Save the MBA for if you want to do something different.

At least in California, you can't call yourself a CPA until you've filed the documentation and they give you this crappy little piece of paper that says "Public Accountant" that you're supposed to carry around with you.

Apr 8, 2010

Definitely don't need an mba if you want to move up the ladder in accounting. it would be a waste of time and money.

I believe if you have passed all sections of the CPA exam but have not yet fulfilled your hours, you can call yourself a CPA candidate.

Dec 16, 2011

Even if you passed all 4 sections of the exams- you still can't call yourself a CPA unless you fulfill the time requirements AND file and receive all the paperwork. Just wait to get everything done and call yourself a CPA all you want!

Dec 16, 2011

If you really love accounting i think you should go for CPA. because MBA is expensive and doesn't ensure job while CPA is a professional degree which has got a very high demand in that specific field an almost no one is jobless after getting CPA. so first choice should be CPA.

Aug 18, 2012
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