More education?

I was a late bloomer in the education game and did not actually graduate from college until 2013 at the age of 52. My long-range planning said that I needed the degree to be competitive in my field (accounting) when time came to seek out a new full-time job. While I did not love the college experience, it is gratifying to have the formal education to back up my job description. I have zero regrets about the time invested or the money spent to earn my degree.

With the latest twists and turns in my full-time job, I am contemplating some additional coursework and possibly an MBA. Right now it’s just additional coursework, to hone my skills and perhaps sit for the CPA exam. Maybe. I am not crazy for the idea of being a CPA, but if I were to find myself released from my present full-time job, I know enough local CPAs (and have worked for several through the years) to probably score a low-paying staff-level job in exchange for auditing hours. My reasoning is that an additional set of opportunities open once one has those three letters after their name.

I am considering additional coursework in forensic accounting and fraud investigation, which would be an add-on in my existing career and choices. I can take as few or as many courses as I wish to add to my degree, or I can take those and pursue an MBA at the same time. A big part of a graduate degree is not the actual coursework, but the return on investment for achieving that milestone. Realistically my working career is about 73.47% complete (assumes I retire in 13 years at age 67). Assuming it took me 2 years to obtain my MBA, would the potential increase in salary pay for the additional schooling while competing with young whipper-snapper millennials?

Put in dollars and cents terms the additional education does not make a lot of sense. My own peace of mind and satisfaction may make it worthwhile goal, though. M is of a more practical mindset – it’s a lot of money just for a hobby. He could be a lot closer to a fully functional airplane for the same dollars invested.

M and I are having dinner with part-time boss #2 on Friday evening. This is partly business, because we always talk business when we get together, and partly social, because he and M have become good friends who enjoy similar hobbies. M is also joining the ranks of his part-time staff, as his car caretaking guy. Boss #2 keeps 4 vehicles at his house in town, yet is only here every couple of months to drive them. In the mean time he likes them to be washed and driven around at least every couple of weeks, the garage kept tidy in his absence. M has been fulfilling this need on a random, as-requested basis, but the boss appreciates his efforts and wanted to formalize the arrangement into a regular part-time gig. There will be other cars coming and going in the next few months, and having M on the payroll and insurance means he can be the driver delivering and exchanging cars. Since these are expensive, fun-to-drive vehicles, it’s a fun job for M to undertake.

But part-time boss #2 is also very pro-education and has tuition reimbursement for his staffers. He has previously offered to take me off contract and add me to his payroll, which makes me eligible to take advantage of tuition assistance. It will come up on Friday night, and depending on what sort of terms we can agree to, part of my additional schooling costs may be reimbursed. If we can come to a mutually beneficial and agreeable agreement I will definitely accept it, but he is a generous employer already and I have no desire to take advantage of his goodwill. Hopefully we can work it out.

9 thoughts on “More education?

  1. You are very fortunate to have a job in accounting and to also get some tuition assistance. In the area I live in, finding a job in accounting has been very difficult. Most of the companies are moving to an automated cloud accounting system and the job, in general, has been reduced to a glorified file clerk.

    • I know precisely what you mean. In our area employers are looking for bachelors degrees to do what I consider clerk-like work for clerk-like pay. . My part-time jobs are both from home using cloud-based programs, but one I’ve been working with for more than 15 years and the other wants a real person to handle things. Being older, it feels like I had to get the degree to even get considered for a future interview.

  2. if you decide MBA – look at an Executive Program – better for where you are in your career. Consider Master in Accounting with a speciality in forensic accounting and then maybe CPA. while you are right about age bias I think you may be looking at the wrong level of job. You need to be looking at much higher levels – not staff positions. You are the experienced adult in the room and that is the level you should be looking – directing/managing work – not doing all of it. In an in-house position (vs CPA firm) you have the right skill set. You need to target the right level job and THEN deified what – if any – degree you need to get there.

    • Funny, I was just chatting with a headhunter pal who also does a lot of career coaching. He said something very similar, only more bluntly that I am thinking backwards. He does not disagree about the increased education if I want to go that direction, but to forget being a staff person – he seens a lot of opportunities for full-time managers doing side work for audit hours if I get serious about the CPA. I’m totally NOT serious about the CPA; it’s my quest of last resort. Working in this tiny firm has sort of stunted my big-picture thinking when it comes to jobs. When I feel ready to tackle the search for my next position, my outlook and thinking needs to upgrade as well as my professional wardrobe. I’m just glad to be going through this exercise now, while I still have a job with benefits, versus when I may be mostly unemployed. You are so wise, SAK; I feel like I do not thank you adequately for your input and sensible advice.

  3. I switched gears in 2007 & went from a very specialized degree to a B.S. in Business Administration, major: Management. I figured in the midst of a hiring crisis that type of degree would open a variety of career doors. Despite my first year of college being paid for by way of scholarships, I’ve accumulated quite a pile of student loans that will take YEARS to pay back. My current employer offers $5k/year in tuition assistance, but of course, it’d have to be related to my job. I’m not really interested in obtaining an MBA. Right now, I’m focused on paying off my debt, building experience in this position (Executive Assistant.. which btw I LOVE, & just enjoying life (BF, photography, travel, etc). Maybe one day I’ll go back.

    • I think you’re on a GREAT track in both your career and your personal/financial life. I was a direct admin/exec admin at CPA firms prior to drifting into accounting myself. I mostly like it, and I feel inclined to stay in the field. However, I do a lot of personal assisting in both my part-time jobs, so that’s very satisfying as well. Things beyond my control are in a state of unresolution, so I am contemplating all my options. I’m mostly kicking tires as far as additional education; it’s one of many thoughts and ideas floating around inside my head at the moment.

  4. I admire your ambition! but at my age it is something I have absolutely no desire for. I have the degree and I did pass all the CPA exam parts. I just never got certified because I wasn’t working in public accounting. It was just something the company I worked for, at the time, wanted their accountants to achieve.

    With your management experience, I honestly don’t think you would need to do this. You are above a staff level position, just based on your work experience and those are the types of jobs you should try for, at least to start. My boss has a 4 yr degree (but not in accounting), no CPA and no masters and she does just fine and I doubt would have much problem finding a new similar job.

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence, OneFamily. I feel a little/a lot lost right now, trying to figure out what to do next. While I have the safety net of my part-time contract jobs, I think my anxiety about actually going out and seeking something else to fill the full-time job with benefits void is causing me to contemplate casting a wide net. Thankfully I am no longer as impulsive as I once was, and I will simply ponder and research and find some other field of inquiry to soak up my self-generating stress.

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