Almost Finished!!

I have three more classes to take oe just 9 more months in total of school and I should have a CGA designation.  In December, due to the way my schedule works out, I’ll have my first break in classes in over two years – something I am looking very forward to (I’m going to Mexico!).  The course work itself generally takes me about 10 to 20 hours a week, which along with a full-time job doesn’t really leave a lot of time for anything.  Given that I don’t really plan on staying in the workforce for an extended period of time, this extensive education doesn’t really seem to make a lot of sense.  So why did I choose to take on a significant commitment to further education?

To be more employable: A Bachelor of Arts in Economics was a pretty general degree.  When I started taking courses towards an accounting designation, I was 25 years old, had no plan for my future and assumed I would be in the workforce for 35 or 40 years.  This time period seemed daunting and I thought a few extra letters after my name wouldn’t hurt and could lead to either more money or an easier time finding a job if I lost my current job or decided I didn’t want to do what I was doing anymore.

Something to do with my spare time: If given the opportunity, I would probably do nothing with my free time – play video games, watch TV, or other (what I would consider) non-productive activities.  Admittedly this would be fun (to me), but not overly constructive to my overall goal of continuously bettering myself over time.  Understanding this non-productive (slacker) “quality” in myself, learning in a structured environment allows me to still goof off part of the time, while forcing (via deadlines and exam dates) me to learn something that could be considered useful.

The possibility of more money: Going along with being increasingly desirable to a future employer, there is a possibility over my working life that I will make more money than if not taking the courses I did.  This possibility depends on me leaving my current company – a government organization who probably will not pay me more just because I have a designation to go along with my extensive (7 years) experience in my position.

So, looking back would I have started the courses knowing what I know now (the time it would take, the end result of the education) – is it worth it?  My answer right now is a hesitant “I think so”.  I think that the information I have picked up could easily be learned on the job, but as with most things the designation itself provides some level of authority over what I have learned.  I certainly hope that what I have learned is useful to someone at a future date (and they will be willing to pay me for it).  In the long-run though, if I were to account for the time I’ve spent on the courses, the possible extra money I make would probably just allow me to break even – that’s kind of a downer to think of though, so for now, I’m counting down (57 days) until the end of this course as it means I’m that much closer to my end goal.

Have you taken post graduate courses?  Did you find them worthwhile?  Would you do it again if you are considering early retirement?

4 thoughts on “Almost Finished!!”

  1. Wow Dave, amazing how your situation is so similar to mine. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (English) degree in 2003, got into the Federal Government in 2004 and realized I would have a hard time moving up from my entry level clerical position without anything more. Since 2005, I have been taking accounting classes one at a time and have just completed CGA level 4 – so 4 to go for me.

    For me, working in government finance, the designation will be my ticket to success – where basically the sky is the limit. It has been a long and difficult road, but the pride I will take in having completed it, while working full-time and (since last month) having a child at home will be great. For me, there are no regrets as I have proven a lot to myself and what I am capable of, and will also reap financial rewards that will make it a great investment as well.

    Best of luck in your remaining PACE courses!

  2. Hi Matt,

    I’m in the middle of AU2 (advanced auditing), then starting TX2 (Advanced Taxation) in March (As long as I pass AU2). Followed by the last 2 PACE courses. I will be very happy when it’s done.

    For me, I’m not so interested in “moving up the ladder” – more retaining the ability to earn what I’m earning now (I lucked out coming out of university)for the next few years.

    At some point (mainly because it coincides well with poor whether and would allow me to have most of the summer off), I might be interested in tax preparation, working from the early spring until tax deadline, then taking the summer off – work 60 hour weeks when the weather is crappy then enjoy the summer.

    Best of luck in your last 4 classes!


  3. I am a CGA and I know the courses and assigments can take all your free time. But the designation is well worth the effort. After working for few years now i am building my part time practice and I am really enjoying it. It is lot of work but I have learnt a lot and met interesting people.

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