If you’re anything like most accountants in Canada, sooner or later your thoughts will turn to whether you should go all the way forward and earn your Chartered Professional Accountant credential. Granted, it’s not exactly easy to become a CPA, but there’s really no better career planning tool than the key certification in the industry. When you’ve earned the credential, your career as an accountant is going places. Here’s why.
You’re Always in Demand
First issued in 2012, the CPA credential merges several earlier designations of Canadian accountants into just one, highly respected, class. Holders of the CPA are regarded as qualified to take on high-level work in virtually any industry. While only certain industries are interested in hiring social workers, geologists, brain surgeons, or forklift drivers, just about every company, nonprofit, and government office in Canada needs a bookkeeper, payroll specialist, financial analyst, or other, related expert. What’s more, it’s way easier for a senior financial analyst for an oil company to make a lateral move into boutique perfume sales than it is for a petroleum engineer to do it.
Opportunity is great and all, but there’s no arguing with the paycheques CPAs bring home. The average Canadian earns around $47,000 a year. The average Canadian with a CPA makes four times that, with top-level CPAs pulling down over $200,000. Maybe even better, it’s fairly easy for an experienced CPA to strike off as an independent business owner and exceed even that level of pay.
Opportunities for Leadership
Speaking of being the boss, CPAs are among the favourite professionals for big companies to hire on as CFOs, COOs, and even CEOs. Many successful CPAs got their start as junior analysts working for some big company, rose in a few years to become senior analysts, found themselves elevated to the board, and then were finally tapped to lead the whole company. Getting a CPA comes in near the bottom of that ladder, and it’s a sort of prerequisite to everything that follows.
Like Being an Artist, but Better
At the risk of stereotyping, accountants are perceived as living dull lives. Monty Python even made a running joke of how boring chartered accountancy can be. People who actually work in accountancy know how wrong that is, and nobody knows this better than senior CPAs. Taking charge of a company’s (or government bureau’s) finances is, for a certain type of adult, like being given a paintbrush and a canvas and told to knock themselves out. Analyzing past mistakes and correcting trajectory, planning for the future and monitoring progress toward goals, and even whimsically fantasizing about all the great things your company could do if it had the money is a reward in itself. If you doubt this, take a minute to think about how many CPAs work at the Canadian Space Agency, and whether Canada’s contributions to the International Space Station would have happened if amateurs had been in charge of that agency’s budget. Those CPAs are literally launching their countrymen into space, and when they get bored with that, it’s easier for them to switch over to that perfume job than it would be for the rocket scientists.
Of the many careers that accountants in Canada can pursue, almost all of them call for an advanced certification. Since 2012, that cert has been the CPA, and it’s an ambitious Canadian accountant’s key to career planning success.