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Career change: nursing to accounting

career change accounting nursing miserable help registered nurse advice FML unhappy

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#1 fugitive RN

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 04:59 AM

Sorry if I missed the customary "Introductions" thread if there is one. Anyway, to make it simple I am a registered nurse working in Pennsylvania in the United States. I've recently graduated college with a Bachelors of Science degree and began working as a RN about a year ago. Before that I was a nursing assistant for a year. I have become disappointed in my career and myself and have been pondering accountancy for at least the past 6 months. 

 

I believe I entered the nursing profession for the wrong reasons, but have also come to dislike a great deal about it while working. After some consideration, chats with accountant friends and relatives, as well as taking a few Myers-Briggs personality tests - I have come to the conclusion that an accounting degree may very well suit my personality and intrinsic desires more aptly. 

This is where I hope this online community may lend a hand. Not only will I "lurk" the forums and gauge some accountant-proclaimed negatives and positives of the career, but I hope for guidance on whether or not I truly am suited for accountancy. I sure don't want to end up in yet another career that makes me miserable. I hope you understand.

 

Thank you for your time and thoughts.



#2 Staff Acct Making Only 38k

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 11:01 PM

How much do you make now?


"He's a CPA, but he did stay at a Holiday Inn."

#3 fugitive RN

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Posted 22 May 2014 - 01:00 PM

How much do I make? $30/hour 12 hour night shift 7PM-7AM, which is actually more like 13 hours, more often than not without a break, and every third weekend. We also work one summer holiday (Memorial, 4th, and Labor) and one winter holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years). That gives me 1700-1850 biweekly which is more than enough to cover my bills, but not nearly enough to compensate the unending, limitless shit that is the nursing profession. I would accept a 25% pay cut if it meant gaining employment that provided me with a modicum of happiness, or at the very least the energy to pursue such happiness when not at work.

#4 Staff Acct Making Only 38k

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Posted 22 May 2014 - 10:31 PM

Accountants are rarely paid overtime, especially if you work in public accounting, and you will work more than 40 hours a week.  You would be looking at a huge cut in your average hourly pay if you became an accountant.  I wonder if what you really need is a better nursing job somewhere else, not a career change.

 

The success stories you read online and in accounting magazines are the 1%, so to speak.  What they don't tell you is about the hoards of accountants who work in a cube and make $35,000.

 

Also, pay attention to how hard it is to get your first accounting job.  Notice how hard it is to find any job postings that actually don't require experience.  Campus recruiting only hires the top GPAs.  The rest are basically screwed.  3 years after graduating, I ran into someone working at a gas station that I had classes with.  He was making $12/hour as a manager.  And here I am, a CPA with several years experience, making $38k.


"He's a CPA, but he did stay at a Holiday Inn."

#5 fugitive RN

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 06:21 AM

Thanks for the input Staff Acct. It's definitely given me a lot more to think about.

 

The only numbers I have to go off of are the BLS figures for each occupation. Median for accountants and auditors was $63,550 in 2012 and for registered nurses was $68,540 in 2012. I definitely don't make near that amount, so I figure the higher paid nursing professions (ie nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist) are responsible for the skewed number while the majority of nurses (ie those that work in the hospital) are paid less. I figure the same must be true for accountants, where some positions are compensated enormously while the majority make less therefore throwing the median salary numbers off.

 

I think another factor is the going wage of these positions in different states. PA is one of the middle-higher paying states for RN positions. Down South RNs make less and in CA RNs make boatloads. Maybe the same is true for accountants. Even still, I make more than 38k a year, but there's a reason RNs are compensated as well as we are. The job completely sucks in every way imaginable. Since becoming a nurse I've realized just how wrong my perception of the job was, and I do think it takes a nurse to understand that. 

 

Thanks again for the input



#6 Virgil-redux

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 06:45 PM

"I believe I entered the nursing profession for the wrong reasons, but have also come to dislike a great deal about it while working. After some consideration, chats with accountant friends and relatives, as well as taking a few Myers-Briggs personality tests - I have come to the conclusion that an accounting degree may very well suit my personality and intrinsic desires more aptly. "

What were your MB test results?

Off the top of my head, I'd say that if you DO decide to go back to school for any other career, make sure it's a damn good one. Also, make sure you'd be able to maintain high grades while attending SOME campus recruiting activities. Outside of this, I'm not sure a degree by itself is really worth the investment.

Curious...when you envision accounting work, what comes to mind? It can vary quite a bit, so I'm just curious.

#7 fugitive RN

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 02:55 PM

Virgil-redux: I never went to an official career counselor to take the MBTI, just one through my university's career center and two on the internet. I got ISTJ x2 and ISTP x1. (Not that I hold these things to be Bible on what I should do with my life anyway). 

 

If I were to go back to school for this it would be a full-time program and only after taking an intro level accounting class to see if I have any aptitude for it at all. I've just finished taking a class while working full-time night shift (3x 12 hour shifts) at the hospital and it was not a fruitful endeavor. I'd keep my license active and probably a per diem job too.

 

I don't have experience in accounting besides keeping my own personal budget and minding my own personal finances, which I've been doing since I was in 9th grade. So really I can't make an accurate assessment of it besides what my accountant family members can provide for me.

 

I want to believe that accountants work at desks or in cubicles for a large portion of their time, generally alone and uninterrupted. I am an introvert and this would be paradise for me, but there's no such thing. In any case I have excellent communication skills (I just f***ing hate wasting them on the ignorant general public) which is apparently a big deal with accountants? Whatever. Taxes for businesses seem complicated, but I could probably get a good hold of them after a class or two if I did decide to go into this form of accounting. Budgeting, P&Ls, being extremely meticulous, check. I would like to believe that it is a 40 hour weekly position (2000-2080 hour FTE), but I've heard that it gets crazy during tax season. I think this is something I'd accept with open arms considering it won't be night shift and I won't be working holidays (what is "Christmas"? you mean "work"?). If the other poster is right that public accountants are only making $38k I might be less motivated to rush the career change. 

 

Out of curiosity what is your job like?



#8 Virgil-redux

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 06:34 AM

"I want to believe that accountants work at desks or in cubicles for a large portion of their time, generally alone and uninterrupted. I am an introvert and this would be paradise for me, but there's no such thing."

 

Well there is such a thing. Except it pays crap. $35k-40k is typical for that type of role. It's basically a Staff Accountant. Most of the time their day is spent performing data entry, making entries, and reconciling accounts. Not very complex or high skilled. One of the main reasons their pay is low.

 

"How much do I make? $30/hour 12 hour night shift 7PM-7AM, which is actually more like 13 hours, more often than not without a break, and every third weekend."

 

Per hour, you make more than me my first year ($25/hour).

 

 

"In any case I have excellent communication skills"

 

That's good. It means you can make some money if you decide to ever do something beyond being a cubicle hermit. Most of the good paying jobs pay well because 1.) You have excellent communication skills, 2.) Desirable experience in accounting and/or the specific industry, 3.) Experience and/or ability to manage a team of accountants, and 4.) Interact/Communicate effectively over a wide range of departments to resolve simple to complex accounting issues.

 

 

"If I were to go back to school for this it would be a full-time program"

 

 

Good. 90% of good to great accounting jobs are secured while you are in school. Usually, the most competitive students get internships at companies. So I'd recommend you beginning that process from day one. Again, that means that if you wait until graduation you're competing for 10% of the good jobs and 90% of the crappy (i.e. low salary low opportunities) jobs out there.

 

 

"Misc stuff about tax and other random stuff"

 

So just as an FYI, there are a few main categories of accounting jobs:

 

 

1. Public Accounting  - Mostly your tax and audit jobs. Note that audit does not mean tax. People in Audit...well they audit the financial statements of other companies. Those statements are not tax based. Tax people prepare tax returns. Those are tax based. different forms of accounting. One is financial accounting and the other is (shock) tax accounting. Regardless, these jobs are mainly client serving which means talking and interacting with people. These jobs are pretty intense, fast paced, longish hours, and high stress. Finally, and this shouldn't be underestimated, you are the main revenue generating source of your business.

 

2. Private/Industry - This is where public accountants go for greener pastures. Usually less hours and more pay (at the higher levels) than public accounting). You are a support function for your company. Generally, the structure is Staff Accountant (entry level), Senior (Supervisor), Manager/Assistant Controller (middle management), Controller (senior management), and CFO (executive/VP  level). This is your typical "work for one company" role. Jobs can include:

 

a. Financial accounting (financial reporting of day to day activities)

b. Tax ( they do taxes for the company)

c. Financial Analysts (using accounting numbers to help forecast, budget, or create ad hoc reports for use by management)

d. Internal Audit (hey, you did this wrong)

e. Technical Accounting (no one knows how to record these transactions off the top of their heads, so please do some research on how to record them)

f. External reporting (high level preparation of the financial statements).

 

These roles vary, and some may not exist depending on the size of the company.

 

 

3.) Government/Non Profit - This can be all kinds of government agencies. Non profits usually pay less, but their hours are very reasonable. Government can be extremely frustrating for smart and ambitious people, but can be heaven for those looking for an easy 9 to 5 to spend time with their families and have a life. These are typically state, federal, or quasi-military/Department of Defense agencies. This can also include the IRS, FBI, CIA, etc. The downside are typically bureaucracy, lower pay than industry, longer promotion time, subject to budget cuts, and non-ambitious culture. Pros are low stress and easy jobs (mostly), great benefits (vacation, 9 to 5 hours, Pensions, healthcare, and "historically" good job security.), and lower barriers to entry (albeit long hiring process). Again, these are generalities. Some non profits (i.e hospitals) operate like regular for profit companies in their execution and quality of people.. Or at least come pretty close.

 

4.) Regulators & Standard Setters - Your typical "Ivory Tower" guys who draft new regulations or enforce them. Technically they fall in the Government section, but not always. I separated them because they're usually a bit more highbrow in nature, and have little interaction besides amongst each other at the lower and mid-levels. Go high enough (very high), and you'll have to invariably deal with politics. However, there's no reason you can't have a great career here without dealing with anyone besides your colleagues.

 

5.) Consultants and Sole Proprietorships - These are the business owners. Some go from a career in public to work as consultants to help companies in various ways. This can be management consulting, accounting system integration, accounting practices consulting (i.e. please teach our idiot accountants how to account), fraud examiners (fraud? where?), tax planning, business valuation, tax practices, and good ole bookkeeping. I separated these from Public Accounting because it's not all public accounting, and it's a very different dynamic (i.e. higher risk) to own your own business.

 

6.)  Academia - Want to make 100k-140k entry level? Great! You just need to get a PhD in Accounting which typically takes 4-5 years. Pros are that this job is ideal if you're fairly academic/bookish/analytic, like to teach, and in high demand (due to gluts of retiring accounting Profs with very little available replacements). In addition, many schools will pay stipends in your first or second year (my school was $20k), and you're able to get your CPA if you teach. Cons are typical for the world of Academe: School politics, pressure to publish (an assistant Prof has 3-4 years to impress the tenure committee with her/his research. Otherwise, he/she needs to find work at another school), crap classes your first few years (i.e. you get to teach uninterested freshmen), less flexibilty in where you can work (job opening in St. Cloud, MN? I'm there!), and giving up a salary for 5+ years (did someone say ramen?).

 

so...basically the field is pretty diverse. And while I'm sure your personality fits in one of these, research might be needed to determine what is worth the effort to leave your current career (pro tip: Staff Accountant is not).

 

Also, as an FYI: I tested as an INTJ on the Meyers-Briggs, and am now working in Big 4 audit. Basically, the opposite of a cube hermit. I love my job, but the stress, hours, and BS can be hard sometimes. But like I already explained....there's greener pastures in Industry.

 

 

"Out of curiosity what is your job like?"

 

 

Check this out as some info on the different careers. I'm in Big 4 audit.

 

 

Big 4 Audit:

 

http://www.big4guide...ical-day-audit/

 

http://big4bound.com...on-big-4-audit/

 

http://goingconcern....nce-work-starts

 

 

http://www.narrowing...-for-the-big-4/

 

 

 

Private Industry:

 

http://www.accountin...areer-potential

 

 

https://wetfeet.com/...view-accounting

 

 

http://goingconcern....-really-greener

 

 

http://lifeofanaudit...experience.html

 

 

Academia:

 

http://goingconcern....blish-or-perish

 

 

Fraud Accounting:

 

http://www.reddit.co..._travelled_the/

 

 

 

 

 

Accounting Salaries:

 

http://www.roberthal...                (do a search for jobs in your area...pay attention to preferred experience educations)

 

http://www.google.com/cse?cx=partner-pub-9957438159924060:2527624570&ie=UTF-8&q=salary&sa=Search&ref= /cpa-exam-forum/#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=salary&gsc.page=1

 

 

 

 

 

Let me know if you have any more questions. I applaud you for doing your research. Not enough people do it seems.


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