Would an accounting diploma program help me get a job?
August 25, 2012 7:18 AM   Subscribe

It's time for a career change, but I'd like some help confirming if this diploma program in accounting would help me land jobs, despite not having a university degree.

First, some backstory. I'm in Canada. I went to university in 2001 to pursue an English degree. I lasted two years, I really didn't like it and I left.
I moved on to take a college Advanced Diploma program in Business Administration - Finance.
This allowed me to get a job working in bank branches, where I worked for five years. The grind of working in bank branches, hitting sales targets, pounding the phone all day, and so on finally got to me, and I left to try something new while I tried to get a new track to my life.

I'm currently (for the past 3 months) selling cars to make ends meet. The sales skills I picked up in the bank is helping me, and I'm doing okay, but I know this isn't for me and I'm trying to find something else I can do.

Specifically, something less customer-facing, sales-targetting. I want a desk job, frankly.

So I'm considering a career change into Accounting. I always did very well in accounting courses in college, and I feel like I could do very well in it as a career. In addition -- there's JOBS!

The University close to me offers this program:
McMaster Accounting Diploma.

I am very interested in taking the course and pursuing a CGA.

But will I be discarded from job applications because I don't have a degree?
Would I still be considered for accounting jobs, especially BEFORE I complete this program, if I can show I'm enrolled and pursuing a CGA?

posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total)
In the US, a CPA will get you a decent job, degree or not. A 30-second googling suggest that a CGA more-or-less matches to a CPA, sooo, I'd say "go for it".

That said, you'll have little room for advancement at most companies without the degree. But if you can get in the door and take advantage of tuition reimbursement to get a 4-year degree in the near future... Hey, cake!

I don't think the demand high enough that you could get a company to take you on as a "CGA in progress", however. Most places do need a variety of clerk-level accounting positions, and you could perhaps get an advanced version of that position in the interim.

/ Not an accountant.
// Work closely with about 60 of them as a dev, though.

posted by pla at 7:38 AM on August 25, 2012

I just want to note that pla's comments are wrong in that a CPA(US) and a CGA require degrees. That program isn't a bad start, but for a long term serious career in accounting, I really recommend the full degree.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 7:43 AM on August 25, 2012

Ah, I did not realize that (and would have sworn I work with at least one CPA with only an Associate's degree, but I guess not). Thank you for the correction.
posted by pla at 7:54 AM on August 25, 2012

You really need to talk to someone at McMaster about this. CGAs need to meet employment and educational requirements that you haven't yet met - I am pretty sure you need an actual degree in Accounting. Since McMaster appears to do some program tailoring, you need to talk to them about how feasable this is for you.

I work with the financial sector in North America and my boyfriend is a CPA in the United States; my experience has been that it's most likely that you would only be able to be hired at the intern, student, or entry-level because you would lack both accounting experience and the degree background, but that may depend on the firm/position. Again, something to talk to McMaster about.
posted by sm1tten at 9:03 AM on August 25, 2012

Just to clarify for future reference, some states in the US do not require a degree to sit for the CPA exam. Each state has a body that administers the exam and sets the rules. I am a CPA without a degree, but I came in to the field with a background that included accounting as part of my job.

The requirement in my state is a certain number of credit hours in college level accounting classes.
posted by readery at 11:39 AM on August 25, 2012

I'm just completing my documentation to attain my CGA designation, but not in Ontario. You should have a look at CGA-Ontario's website, which has information on transferring credits. You can also talk to a student advisor, and they most likely hold information sessions on a regular basis, as the one in BC does.

Short story, you need to have a degree in order to meet CGA designation requirements, but you can do this concurrently with your studies. CGA partners with Laurentian University, I think, to offer a business admin degree. It also doesn't need to be an accounting degree. Mine is a BA in English Lit.

As an employer looking to fill an entry-level accounting department position, I am more likely to consider you as a candidate if you are enrolled in any accounting diploma or degree program and demonstrate that this is your long-term career path.
posted by sillymama at 4:19 PM on August 25, 2012

My wife is a corporate tax accountant and it's always been easy for her to find a job. Seems like the demand is always greater than the supply.
posted by Dansaman at 11:43 PM on August 25, 2012

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