My CPA Journey – How Do I Know If It Is Okay To Quit?

I want to start this post off by stating the following:

  • I am not quitting CPA (in fact, I am more sure of this path everyday)
  • I am as far away as I can be as an expert on this topic (the only thing I claim expertise in is making chili the exact way I want it)

Then, you must be wondering why am I writing a post about quitting CPA?

I am writing this because I know people who have quit before they even started, quit shortly after they started, quit just before they wrote their CFE and quit after they wrote and passed their CFE (because they did not satisfy their PERT requirements).

Some of these people I am very close to and some are just acquittances. The ones I am close to, I have naturally spoken to some of them at lengths before or after they made their decisions. I told them how much I admire their strengths in making this decision because it could not have been easy.

The other day, I was telling a reader who has recently made such a decision how proud I was of her decision because she chose something way more valuable than a promotion at work or a $5,000 salary increase. In a society where formal education and climbing the corporate ladder are strongly encouraged, it seems we sometimes forget the importance of everything else that matters in life. Family, friends, physical and mental health are constantly competing for your time and attention. Those of us who are going through the CPA journey knows how time-consuming and exhausting the program can be. There are a lot of people out there who will tell you the hard work and sleepless nights are worth it but only you can decide whether that is true or not. A recent ad by CPA BC states that the median salary for a CPA in BC is $108,000. That means, it is likely that you will make 6-figure as a designated accountant (most likely not right after designation) but it is also possible for you to make less or more than that.

Before I started the CPA program, I was making $38,000 a year at an office where I started at $35,000. I have changed jobs a couple of times in the last few years and I am making significantly more now. However, I was genuinely happy then and I am genuinely happy now. This is because I let my salaries contribute to my happiness in a small way. I am not naïve in thinking that money can’t buy happiness (e.g., it can buy that Matcha, Red Bean & Mochi crepe I love) but I am extremely conscious of the hidden costs – time away from people I care about, making decision that makes people I care about suffer etc.

Matcha Red Bean Crepe
Matcha, Red Bean & Mochi crepe

The most important question I think we need to ask ourselves is what we are getting designated for. Once you have the answer, you will ask yourself if spending the next 2 to 3 years (not including your bachelor degree and/or PREP) working full-time and studying at least part-time is worth it. Your CPA journey will bring you on a roller coaster of emotions – anger, frustration, happiness, sadness, sense of accomplishment. Only if you know for sure it will be worth it will you stop doubting yourself often. There will still be days where you aren’t sure why you put yourself through this but those should be uncommon. Have an ally, a study buddy, a friend, a family member to be there for you when those thoughts come knocking. It is also important to note that just because you thought it was worth it a year ago, it does not mean you have to feel the same way now. People and circumstances change.

If you decide to quit at any time, that is okay. I told the same reader I was talking about earlier that CPA is definitely not the only path. Sometimes, it isn’t even the right path. I worked with this fresh grad for about a year before she decided to go back to school full-time to pursue her passion in an area she is extremely talented in. She knew the CPA path wasn’t for her despite the many people who assumed it was because she was working in Finance and of her business degree.

Do not let other people dictate what your happiness should be because only you can decide how you want to spend your valuable and limited time.

If you decide to stay, read all of my CPA posts here. 😊