One of the reasons people want to become a CPA is because they know that the profession can be extremely lucrative for anyone who takes the right approach to success. In this post, you can read about how to reach a six-figure salary in just six years out of college.
Many college students wonder how difficult it could be to earn a six-figure income. It may even seem impossible. And while it is for most people, it can be relatively easy for others who follow a particular path.
This path is not the only path, and many others have quickly reached the six-figure salary mark, following the same footsteps. And while several kinds of professions may take you there, this discussion is specifically based on a CPA career.
So here is one way you could reach a six-figure salary in just six years straight out of college…
1) Attend a reputable university and pursued a major in a field that lends itself to a financially lucrative career- accounting and finance! If you are in school or are considering going back for higher education, look into accounting programs, especially if you are going to pursue the CPA route.
Attending a reputable institution won’t necessarily make you smarter. Still, it will ensure that you get some exposure to some of the biggest and most reputable firms and companies that come to recruit at your school. In addition, these institutions give you the best chance at reaching a six-figure salary the quickest. Here is how you could succeed too.
2) Get a job with a big name straight out of college. If you are looking soon, go for a big name, preferably in a service-related / consulting capacity. It may not be a bad career move if you are already working to pursue a big name. As an accountant or an aspiring one, you want to shoot for the big four (Deloitte, PwC, E&Y, KPMG). This experience is perceived as invaluable by most companies of all sizes and will expedite your path to a six-figure income.
3) Focus on your job. Do very well, exceeded expectations in the first couple of years, and got promoted rapidly. It will help you earn higher than average raises year over year. It’s all about the billable hours in public accounting! Show up to work every day and get involved. Get to know your superiors and participate in work that makes their work easier.
4) Take your achievements to the market and join a big name. So if you follow this route, join a big name as well, preferably a fortune 100-500 company. A big name ensures that you are offered a nice salary bump, often up to 35%, that you can leverage on your next move.
5) Repeat step #3
6) Repeat step #4, except at this point, you don’t necessarily have to join a big company. You may or may not. In fact, joining a smaller company may result in a better overall compensation package, with a six-figure income base salary of well over $100,000 plus a lot of equity (stock)
Here is a breakdown of the time you might have to spend on each step. First, you might spend three years at steps two and three, earning one promotion. Then, when you move to step five, you can get a higher-level position, therefore getting promoted into a new role. Finally, you could spend two years at steps four and five, earning another promotion. So far, that is five years and three promotions.
In your sixth year, you could transition to step six, resulting in another promotion and a six-figure income. So that’s a total of six years and four promotions.
Now, this is just one part of the overall success package. There are several things you need to get right to expedite your career success.
Can you replicate this model? Absolutely. Anyone can…
These steps may or may not work for you, but they are certainly not a rule of thumb or a norm. There are many ways to slice a loaf of bread and equally as many routes to get to a six-figure income. However, in the CPA profession, this is the best and quickest way.
There is also no age limit to when one decides to embark on the journey to six figures. It doesn’t take a superhero to replicate the above steps. Anyone can do it, in my opinion.
So what are your general thoughts on earning a six-figure income? What do you think of this route?
How to Outshine Your Peers Without Creating Competition, Animosity & Resentment
There is no doubt that the CPA profession is gratifying, but it can also be demanding and very competitive.
After all, the salaries are quite lucrative, and you can’t quite expect to get paid a healthy amount without some demands on you.
So how do you outshine several others in a competitive profession, where everyone is eyeing that promotion and eager to climb up the corporate ladder?
Well, fortunately for you and me, very few professionals, although career-focused and super motivated, know exactly how to separate themselves from the rest of the crowd.
The crowd mentality causes most professionals to do what everyone else is doing, working long hours, getting there early, staying late, brown-nosing, etc. And while some or all of those methods may work, how does management differentiate between the staff if everyone is doing the same thing? What gives them a reason to keep you in mind before and above everyone else?
Here are a handful of tips that may help you outshine your peers without them even knowing, and because of that, you will be able to maintain healthy relationships with coworkers and management.
- Get certified in your field. Most people stop at just the CPA license. Don’t do that. There is a whole wide world of professional certifications to be achieved. Alphabet soup does matter – read here why. After you get certified, make sure to self-promote your achievement.
- Write for industry journals and trade publications. For example, the American Institute of Public Accountants (AICPA) and CPA journal accept volunteer articles. Similarly, if you are an Internal Auditor, try to write for the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). After you’ve been published, make sure to self-promote your achievement.
- Network with others internally within the organization and externally. Use the company’s directory or intranet to connect with others and go to lunches together. Volunteer and participate in industry groups such as the AICPA and IIA. Connect with like-minded folks in your industry. Word spreads over time.
- Establish a solid LinkedIn profile and make sure Management is aware of it by connecting with them on LinkedIn. Make yourself the LinkedIn expert, and you will find Management coming to you for advice.
- Self-promote your achievements whenever you get the chance. Do so strategically, repeatedly and subtly over time to ensure you stay at the forefront of Management’s minds. You do this in a way where your colleagues and peers don’t even need to know.
3 more tips to boost your accounting career
There are three specific things I want to discuss that you can do today to start making that alphabet soup train next to your name. All of my tips can tremendously impact your career. Consider all of my tips even if you disagree with them at first.
1) Depending on the CPA career you decide to pursue, find the relevant credentials to your profession and start to pursue them immediately, one at a time. Start with the most relevant, and work your way to the rest (within reason, of course – some are just too time and cost-prohibitive). This, of course, assumes that you already have your CPA license.
If you don’t, pass the CPA exam and get licensed immediately. Why? Because when you have a CPA, many other, sometimes perceived to be as less significant, credentials and certifications allow you to skip part(s) of requirements needed to obtain them, yet another validation for the strength, relevance and credibility of the CPA certification.
Some examples are as follows:
If you are in the internal audit or risk profession, consider the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) or Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) certifications.
If you are in forensic accounting, consider the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) certification.
If you are in financial planning, consider the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification.
Similarly, there are several other certifications to pursue within various CPA-related career fields.
You don’t need to display all of your credentials all the time (for example, you might only include a couple of the most valuable credentials on your business card), but you can pull from your arsenal whenever you need to.
2) Be on the lookout for new, relevant certifications in your industry. When a certification program is relatively new, the board that governs the program often allows for “easier” enrollment or registration to build up the membership base before formally structuring the program by requiring rigorous tests and such.
3) Most certifications cost money in the form of licensing dues. Do not be afraid to ask your employer to potentially reimbursing your cost, not only to pay for the certification but also to take the exam and buy the study material required to prepare for it.
The worst-case scenario is that you will be denied. So what? No big deal. However, don’t be surprised to get reimbursed, especially when you present a strong case of why and how the certification will help you help your employer better.
But, if your employer refuses to help with the cost, don’t let that stop you. After all, you are investing in your career. The good news is that even if your employer doesn’t reimburse you, you can claim certification costs as professional dues at the end of the year and deduct it when you file your income taxes.
Don’t let cost be the sole reason you don’t pursue the certification. If you have to pay out of pocket and you can afford it, go for it as it is an investment in your career well worth making.
So there you have it, three quick practical and actionable steps you can take today to start making some alphabet soup that will help you tremendously in your career progression.
So how do you feel about lettered certifications and credentials after your name? What are you doing to build alphabet soup after your name?
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