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I am interested in making a career change. I am in my thirties, a CPA and am certain I would like to do something in computer science. It is possible to take masters level prerequisites and go to school fulltime for a comp sci degree, but am also considering just going the certification route to get my foot in the door with entry-level jobs.

My question to the room is which track makes the most sense: masters degree or certifications? Also, I would be interested to know what fields are hot right now in terms of employment, and salary. I doubt too many persons here have an accounting background, but it seems there should be a way to leverage my professional experience in the computer scicence field, but outside of picking up an accounting software programming gig somewhere, I can't think of any other opportunities. I'm sure they exist ...

Thank you ...

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I sent you an email on how to go the programming route. But, it really depends on what you wanted to do. Software engineering, database administration, networking/systems administration, and software testing are the hottest.

A lot of system/database admin & networking people make a lateral move in their company. But if you wanted to get your foot in the door there are classes, a lot of times at your local community college, which are hands on and lead to a cert. The IT guy at my old work said hands-on classes can count as experience.

If you wanted to do IT auditing you could get your CISA they do really well. (i.e. 70000/year) to start out with. You might want to get that and then it would be easy to make a lateral move at your firm.

Business analysis could be good with your accounting background. If you learned databases you could make a lateral move that way.

I am in the exact same position as the original poster. I am currently enrolled in two pre-requisite courses (for the C.S. master's) at a local state school.

CPAtoCompSci, have you taken any steps towards the computer science certificate/schooling? Right now I am taking calculas and an entry level programming class. I am half way through the semester and we have just scratched the surface of java programming. I'm not sure if I want to continue down the master's path. It looks like it will take four years, at a cost of $40k.

On the other hand, the pre-requisites look to be the same core classes for the bachelor's degree. I am hoping to make some type of career change towards computer science just by taking 4-8 of these classes. Does that sound reasonable? The total required to get into the M.S. program is 8.

As far as the job outlook. I am seeing business analyst positions. This seems like the most logical and quickest move from what I am doing now, but most posting require 2-3 years experience. I have four years of accounting experience. I too, would love to leverage this experience somehow.

ragnarok511, if I were to obtain the CISA certificate, with no further schooling, would I be qualified for an IT audit position

Would appreciate any and all feedback.

Thanks guys!

Just checked out the CISA certificate requirements. I will not qualify until I get 5 years of audit/IT experience. So it looks like I am at least 5 years away from being qualified, lol.

Any other certificate suggestions?

Anyone out there!?!

Just keep going the way you're going. Certifications are great, but they're not everything-- You could even look at something like getting your PMP, or another project management certification. That would get you into a BA role, too-- many BA's spend lots of time getting user requirements and translating them into developer terms, and vice-versa.

I started off as a BA, and I learned more coding as I went along. All I have is a 2 year degree, but I've been doing this for 6 years now.

You might consider Business Analyst on an ERP (accounting) system, and move toward techincal/programming from there. I am a developer supporting Oracle eBusiness Suite and daily curse my lack of knowledge of how accounting actually works, and I know our analysts are valuable because they used to be accountants, and have become more technical via their roles. Development support of an ERP is kind of a specialty niche, and I have found positions successfully over the last 12 years of doing this type of work. Leverage what you know and acquire what you want to know.

I've been looking at Business Analyst positions online, but they all seem to want at least two years IT experience. I have zero years IT experience, but I started taking intro computer science classes this fall, possible working towards either a bachelor's or master's degree. I was hoping I could take five or six computer sciences classes and move into a business analyst job, but not sure that will be enough. Does that sound right?

I just looked up the PMP requirement. To apply you need three years project management experience. Again, I have zero. The only way I see to make the switch is by taking classes, possible a certificate. What do you think? I want to get a new job ASAP, and I want my next job to be more IT related...

Update -

I am the original CPAtoCompSci poster.

I am finishing up my masters in computer science and have absolutely loved it! Now I am at the point of deciding whether I want to pursue a doctoral program, or go into the business wrold after graduation. Any thoughts on job prospects for a degreed accountant, with an active CPA license, and now a masters degreed computer scientist? Unfortunately, my project portfolio is not that large, so it will be my education and past accounting work experience that will be my selling points in the interview process. Also, any thoughts on a phd academic track would be interesting as well? Thanks again everyone ...

If any of the other posters happen to see this, I would be interested in hearing about your progress. Please email me at Thanks ...

Hey there, thanks for following up. It's great to hear success stories down the line. Always wonder what happens to people! ;)

Personally, I would either go straight to the business world, or do a part-time doctoral program while working super hard building up a resume of various projects to show your experience. A lot of real-world programming jobs rely much more on experience than on book knowledge. Just my humble opinion.

I'm a CS major sinor year, and I'm planning to take a master in ACT, and get my CPA !!

i'm wondering why do you want this career change, I heard the salary is good 70K and above?

I have been looking for discussions regarding IT/CPA crossovers (doesn't seem to be many). I am investigating the feasibility of attaining a CPA (up here in Canada). Been in IT for many years. Originally attained a 2 year diploma in IT and started as a web programmer (back in 2002). Also tried my hand at Quality Assurance and am now a Business Analyst/Quality Assurance hybrid. Just recently attained my 4 year bachelors degree B.Mgt (or B.Comm to some). Wondering what it looks like on the other side of the fence to attain an accounting designation. I am not looking to abandon IT completely, but integrate IT with Accounting to become a hybrid of sorts. Which leads me to conclude that I would still end up as a Business Analyst, but with Accounting knowledge/experience.

Wondering if chasing an accounting designation is a waste of time. I want the the accounting knowledge and experience as I believe it would and greater longevity to a BA career. The only thing is I am a little apprehensive to take a step down in pay for a few years to attain the accounting designation.

Any thoughts to individuals who have an IT education/background (coupled with some business undergrad) in the positives/negatives of attaining an accounting education/background. At the moment I see it as a temporary set back in salary, but the upside at the end looks to be brighter than a person with just an IT background still chasing Business Analyst roles.

Hi. I may be able to help you. Quickly...

I have an undergraduate degree in Accounting and I'm currently studying for the CPA at 28 years of age. Last year I went for a masters in Computer Science but after getting 100% in three classes I withrdrew and went back to the CPA.

I hope I made the right decision. Here is why. The masters would cost me $100,000 and the CPA would cost me $5,000 and the return on the CPA is much greater in the long run since I would probably fall into a similar position anyways.

I am also not entirely sure I want to pursue computer science as much as I want to simply design software in collaboration with Computer Science majors. I am considered an ideas guy and many of my wealthy friends are ready to back any project I so desire.

I may go into law, or I may not; I may go back into computer science, or I may not; or, I may simply start a publisher of Graphic Novels. With such uncertainty I figured it best not to go into debt, and strayed away from computer science.

But the CPA is a very hard exam - probably the hardest in the world right now - because it requires a lot of work regardless of your intellectual abilities. Most people who have an easy time with the CPA are people who started preparing for it, regardless of what they say, when they were freshman in college. The ones who didn't even think about it until later usually take each section 4-8 times before they pass.

a good site to visite.

That being said a CPA is more respectable than a graduate degree from harvard and much more difficult to attain, afterall, legacy schools are not that difficult once you are accepted, and the irony is that many community college courses surpass them in this regard.

So with all this aside, the question is, if you want to do something that is hard,but rewarding, and very efficient in terms of money, the CPA is a good way to go and gives you a broad range of opportunity.

Something to consider after the CPA is a certified internal systems auditor.

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