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Advice on switching careers. Should I go back to university in my mid-30s?

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 9th, 2020 5:26 pm
[OP]
Member
Jan 24, 2015
460 posts
266 upvotes
GTA

Advice on switching careers. Should I go back to university in my mid-30s?

I'm a CPA and senior auditor at a big4 accounting firm, and want to make a switch. Don't want to do another busy season, I feel underpaid and unappreciated at my job.

Career in finance sounds nice, I have one more CFA exam left to take, but getting a job in finance without a network seems impossible. Haven't heard back from any job applications I've sent out.

A career as a software developer seems interesting too. Is it worth it for me to quit, and applying for uni again? Or am I being crazy?

How should I get out from audit? I read the road to $100k salary thread, it's been a long time since I graduated and I'm not even at $80k. Maybe a career change will help.
Last edited by redflags10 on Feb 16th, 2020 12:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
41 replies
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 26, 2003
7061 posts
104 upvotes
Nepean
if you can't network, it really doesn't matter which field you get into
Newbie
Nov 26, 2013
67 posts
4 upvotes
London
I’m in my late 20s and switched. I was actually in accounting as well but never went as far as CPA. I had already hated it before I got that far lol. I went into a totally different field than you are thinking of but when I went back to school there was people in their 40s even. So I would definitely say you’re not too old to go back and if you have any doubt at all with this career then make the switch. I did and have never been happier.
[OP]
Member
Jan 24, 2015
460 posts
266 upvotes
GTA
TenzoR wrote: if you can't network, it really doesn't matter which field you get into
that's true, wish i had better networking skills. but doing something new will give me a new goal to work for, and i will have more time to improve my networking
gilroy222 wrote: I’m in my late 20s and switched. I was actually in accounting as well but never went as far as CPA. I had already hated it before I got that far lol. I went into a totally different field than you are thinking of but when I went back to school there was people in their 40s even. So I would definitely say you’re not too old to go back and if you have any doubt at all with this career then make the switch. I did and have never been happier.
thank you
Member
Nov 20, 2010
268 posts
145 upvotes
Halifax
I can't tell you re audit but you don't need to go back and take HS courses.

You already have an undergrad so you may be able to get some credit (potentially all GenEds) and then work on the new skillset - all while working so you don't have to quit your job and take on massive debt. Why Software developing? Have you done some? Are you sure you want that? ..just be sure; we all hit a snag in our careers where we wonder if we've made the right choice... hell you could go get a BEd, be a teacher, make a 80-100k a year with Summers off.. though you have to put up with teenagers.

For an undergrad in SD check out https://www.wgu.edu/online-it-degrees/s ... ogram.html it's entirely online, you get some industry certs while at it and make a switch.

That being said, you can get some SD certs, go to a coding bootcamp and see what's out there: https://www.codingdojo.com/online and they'll include career services to find a job.

But before making a complete switch, do you have linkedin setup properly? And written well to sell yourself and your skillset? What about your resume? Did you go to a professional to have it looked over? Make sure that your resume and linkedin are top-notch, get a hold of a recruiter and see what can happen. Look into moving into something like forensic accounting and check out KPMG, PWC - those firms are always hiring people with your skillset.
Deal Addict
Mar 17, 2016
1115 posts
905 upvotes
Don't read that 100k thread. It's garbage. People constantly over exaggerate or straight up lie in there.

Instead do your own research into the job market, look into similar levels at other institutions etc. You can always switch jobs. Doing a complete career switch from scratch seems too extreme to me. I'd only do it if I was absolutely miserable at my field.
Penalty Box
User avatar
Apr 21, 2004
51946 posts
16526 upvotes
I have my CFA charter but never got to crack the Investment Finance industry. People whom I am acquainted with (in Asset Management) told me back then even their IT guys had their CFA charters.

I am sure many people are able to but I don't regret going through all three levels. I took it for personal learning anyway and as long as I eventually make money in the markets ( :) ) down the road, it's all good.
Sr. Member
Aug 16, 2008
987 posts
311 upvotes
Markham
Hindenburg1 wrote: Don't read that 100k thread. It's garbage. People constantly over exaggerate or straight up lie in there.

Instead do your own research into the job market, look into similar levels at other institutions etc. You can always switch jobs. Doing a complete career switch from scratch seems too extreme to me. I'd only do it if I was absolutely miserable at my field.
what proof do you have of this?
Deal Addict
Aug 12, 2004
4288 posts
1816 upvotes
Calgary
You absolutely need connections. Jobs in finance are largely network based. Most finance jobs are not even advertised. The fact that you are an accountant, you are a CPA, and you have also taken 2 levels of CFA, getting a new degree will only take you out of the market and make it harder on you. You already have all the tools you need to get a new career or job. Do not do software developer...that sure as heck is not going to help your underappreciated vibe.

Start networking via Linked In, send messages to people within the finance industry, get talking with people. Eventually you will find a link where they may want someone with both finance and accounting backgrounds and hire you.
Jr. Member
Jan 28, 2017
120 posts
116 upvotes
Markham
Not a cpa, but i know plenty of cpa friends/coworkers who are former big 4 and have lateraled into corp. Think FP&A, internal audit, reporting, corp finance groups. Probably similar work/deliverables but it won't be a sweatshop culture.

Any field will require networking, doesn't matter if its white collar, blue collar or trades. And for a career switch, you don't need to go retake hs/uni courses - plenty of resources online/in-person classes (free and paid offerings, if you have the money/time).
Jr. Member
Jan 28, 2017
120 posts
116 upvotes
Markham
Firebot wrote: Start networking via Linked In, send messages to people within the finance industry, get talking with people. Eventually you will find a link where they may want someone with both finance and accounting backgrounds and hire you.
In addition to linkedin, email, etc., I believe cpa/cfa local chapters have regular in-person events (happy hour, guest speaker). Not sure what OP's educational background is, but perhaps try networking with university alumni?
Sr. Member
Jun 27, 2006
552 posts
434 upvotes
Toronto
I worked with someone who was a developer with an accounting background; not sure if she was a CGA/CMA or CA but she was an FA at one point. She understood how the accounting needed to work and found the system piece interesting so she decided to get into development side. Not sure of the path that she took but I know that the accounting teams enjoyed working with her as she was someone who understood how the business wanted/needed to work and was able to help develop the systems to support that. This was in the SAP space.
Newbie
Jun 11, 2010
94 posts
39 upvotes
Halifax
I used to work for one of canada's most well known IT companies. Many people i worked with had computer science degrees, but many also had college diplomas. The college programming certs are usually 2 years and will you get you a job right out of school. You can come out making good money and if you ever choose to complete a degree, many, if not all those courses can count towards a university transfer program. At least that way, you won't be pushing 40 when you come out of school.

FWIW, I worked with proprietary software that integrated with MS Exchange as well as AD, SQL and stuff like that. My highest year was 67k , with a base salary of 54. At 34, i went to trade school. This year I'll make close to 100k, if not just over and my job is less stressful with better work/life balance. I read something that was talking about the majority of people that make a career change feel they are better off.
Sr. Member
Jan 29, 2010
776 posts
504 upvotes
Toronto
You’re a senior auditor at a Big4. You should be able to switch to industry in internal audit, Fp&a, financial reporting or accounting policy and get AT LEAST 90k working 9-5 hours in Toronto.

I know this because I was a manager at Big4 here and the staff accountants I knew have mostly exited to industry when they were seniors and the average role they got was around 100k and 9-5 jobs. They have also told me roles they were offered and they declined and those were mostly 9-5 jobs at 90k average.

You’re crazy to switch careers. Accounting jobs in the industry (except financial reporting) are all super chill jobs where you work at less than 80% efficiency (for 8 hours day) at the 100k level and you can probably work from home 2 days a week.

Anyone telling you otherwise is lying because my information is updated as of 2019. Oh also, I have recruiters asking me if I know any Big4 seniors to recommend to them and those are managers role at 100k. If you were able to get into the Big4 (a recruiting process where they look at your communication skills), I can’t imagine how bad your interview skills can be to not get 90k. Certainly, I’ve never met a Big4 homegrown (non midjoiner) person who has poor communication skills.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Aug 15, 2015
1568 posts
194 upvotes
Markham, ON
Seems only accountants here.
Do you have any software developing experience? Those genius get honourable degrees without going to school or drop out. All very underground at first, and then become the cover boy of many magazine and finally the cover man of their own biography. It's a competitive dog eat dog world.

If you have no experience whatsoever, not even as a hobby or helping friends and family, take a course at night or weekend to see if it's right for you.

You only have so much time in a day as an adult.

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