Welcome to the cancel-your-holiday-in-Libya edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, another Fall 2011 Big 4 associate would like to nail down a certification in addition to the CPA before starting work. Can I keep my head from exploding long enough to formulate a coherent response?
Caught in a ethical jam at work? Need a shredding service-provider that also has a knack of taking care of “problems”? Want to challenge your firm’s dress code but need an objective opinion? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll make like Anna Wintour.
Back to our overachiever du jour:
I am about to pass the CPA exam and have 8 months until I begin at one of the “Big Four” firms in Florida. I am excited to start at the firm as it was my first choice however, I am not certain I will be in public accounting for the long run (like most people). My question is, being uncertain about my career path, what other certification should I obtain before I start in 8 months?
I have considered the CISA, CFE, CMA, CFA, Six Sigma but, I am not sure as I am not certain of my long term path. I want something that will give me an edge if I leave the firm and/or switch careers.
What certification would you recommend?
Any suggestions are helpful.
Dear Overachiever Du Jour,
After murdering the remainder of Stranahan’s in the house, I’m better prepared to answer your query.
I appreciate your ambition and we definitely think that obtaining additional certifications is a good idea for those that move on from public accounting but I fail to see how this benefits you now before you have an inkling of what kind of career you want. HOWEVER, I’m here to help sort you out as best I can, so I’ve put aside my judgments for two.
Based on your “considerations” listed, you seem to have a case of accounting certification ADHD which is fine but there’s no clear pattern as to what your interests are. I’m not going to recommend you do something just because it may be a hot area (forensics) or in-demand (information systems) but I am going to recommend you rank these certifications based on your level interest. Want to eventually be a CFO? Then go for the CMA. Want to pile up the financial reporting bodies? Get the CFE. You get the point. The important thing is to pursue a certification you find interesting rather than one that will just puts a few letters behind your name that may (but probably not) impress someone.
But really, do you want to spend the summer prior to starting work studying for a test? Get the band back together, take a trip, something.
Need help deciding what you want to be when you grow up? Check out the rest of our posts on credentials for accountants.
If you’re really into internal audits and information systems, want to make decent money and never want to worry about having to find a job, you may want to look into the CISA.
None that we know of, beyond what you’d need to secure a job in the field to gain required professional experience.
CISA candidates must have 5 years of relevant experience in IS auditing, control or security work and adhere to the IASCA Code of Professional Ethics. Experience must be obtained in the 10 years before taking the exam.
The exam is administered twice a year (June and December) and candidates must register no less than two months before the exam date. The exam is made up of 200 multiple choice questions that must be answered within 4 hours. The score is graded from 200 – 800 points and a CISA candidate must score at least 450 points to pass. It covers the following areas:
IS Audit Process (10%)
IT Governance (15%)
Systems and Infrastructure Lifecycle Management (16% of Exam)
IT Service Delivery and Support (14%)
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (14%)
The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) sets the standards of and administers the CISA examination.
PayScale has some interesting figures on compensation for those with the CISA and we have to say, it’s one of the more lucrative credentials we’ve covered thus far. Interestingly, GT pays its CISAs far better than P-Dubs.
|Deloitte||$59,942 – $86,500|
|Ernst & Young||$60,737 – $90,757|
|KPMG||$70,736 – $111,331|
|PricewaterhouseCoopers||$58,448 – $97,657|
|Grant Thornton||$56,500 – $143,400|
IS Auditors make between $60,047 – $82,842 while IS Audit Managers can make up to $108,226. The money is good if you’re willing to put in the hours and pass a little more than half of the exam.