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CPA for someone with MST

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CPA for someone with MST [#permalink] New post 03 Dec 2010, 01:44
Hi, I had a question about obtaining the CPA designation for someone going into the tax path of accounting. I was in my auditing UG class today and there was a guest speaker. He went on about saying how he chose auditing because he wouldn't have to battle for hours to get the required amount of time working under a CPA as opposed to someone in the tax path. He went on to say people in the tax path would take around 4 years instead of the 2 years to get the amount of time under a CPA in order to fulfill the requirement because the hours only counted if they were for auditing. He said that the firm wants its tax people to work on the tax side because they don't get anything out of it if you're on the tax path working on audits, which makes sense.

I looked into the CPA requirement for CA, and all I found is that you need "Two years of general accounting experience supervised by a CPA with an active license", or with the MST route because I will have the 150 hours "One year of general accounting experience supervised by a CPA with an active license". My question is, if I get into the Big 4 on the tax path, will it take me longer than the 1 year to be able to receive the required amount of time served under a CPA?

I also had a question about people working in the Big 4 because I only know and hear from people who work on the auditing side. If you work on the tax side, is the experience basically the same? I'm assuming the pay is the same, but are the hours the same also?

All answers are appreciated.
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Re: CPA for someone with MST [#permalink] New post 03 Dec 2010, 12:47
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Hi acctngnoob,

I am a CPA with in Big 4 Tax, and the short answer to your question is that it depends on the designation on the type of CPA License that you want. (General Experience or Attestation experience.

The General Experience designation requires 1 or 2 years of work experience under the supervision of a CPA in either a public accounting or non public accounting firm.

The Attestation Experience designation requires 1 or 2 years of work experience under the supervision of a CPA in either a public accounting or non public accounting firm, with at least 500 of the hours as attest hours for those who want to sign attest reports.

The forms differentiate which designation you are applying for as a CPA and in which environment you obtained your work experience. For the attestation designation, you have to have someone certify that you worked a minimum of 500 attest hours. While the general experience designation, you just need to have someone certify that you worked under the supervision of a CPA under whichever pathway you choose to apply.

In my firm, most people in tax opt for the General route, and are able to obtain their license pretty quickly. However, if you are interested in qualifying for the Attestation route, you can always attempt to do an audit rotation to meet the 500 hour requirement, which I have seen a few people do.

Hope that helped, and good luck!
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Re: CPA for someone with MST [#permalink] New post 03 Dec 2010, 19:23
Hi bosunnusob,

Thank you for the quick and informative response!

I was wondering which designation you have, general or attestation? If I were to get hired by the Big 4 Tax, do I need to let them know immediately that I would be interested in the attestation designation, and how would they react to that (i.e. would they not like it because they don't gain much from a tax person wanting to do attestation hours)? How big of a difference does it really make to have the general or the attestation designation? In your opinion, would it be worth it to get the attestation designation if I'm working on the tax side?

Thank you for your time for answering my questions, I really appreciate it!
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Re: CPA for someone with MST [#permalink] New post 05 Dec 2010, 15:30
I don't know what the above poster is talking about, but I'm sure he's right for his state.

You need to look at the state you actually live in and see what the State Board that governs CPA licenses says. It varies from state to state and if you live in a different state than the above respondent you better look elsewhere for advice. My state doesn't make any distinction between attest experience and other types of experience.
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Re: CPA for someone with MST [#permalink] New post 06 Dec 2010, 23:05
Thanks for the reply Diogenes,

I did check my state and it aligns with bosunnusob's state where there is the general and attestation designations. I asked around and was told that most people just opt to get the general designation, especially if they are on the tax path. I was told the only difference is that you need the attestation designation to be able to sign off on audits.
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Re: CPA for someone with MST [#permalink] New post 07 Dec 2010, 13:03
There are state by state differences. I think the earlier person was talking about California rules?

In any event, you should get the CPA even with an MST. If you plan on staying in public accounting, it is essential for moving up the ladder.
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Re: CPA for someone with MST [#permalink] New post 07 Dec 2010, 15:16
Thanks for the reply USCTrojan2006,

I realize that the CPA exam is very valuable, and I do plan on obtaining it. My question though, is in CA, if I go on the tax path, does it matter if I get the attestation or general designation?
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Re: CPA for someone with MST [#permalink] New post 07 Dec 2010, 15:53
From what I've seen, it doesn't really matter. However, if I were you, I would get attestation, in case you ever decide to crossover into Audit.

There are Partner limits in each practice group, and there is a possibility they could open up a spot in a practice that has an opening. Then again, I haven't been in the game for two years so things might've drastically changed since my stint in Big 4.

Then again, Partner takes a while to make, and in this non-growing economy, it may be normal for people to make Partner in 15 years instead of 12.

acctngnoob wrote:
Thanks for the reply USCTrojan2006,

I realize that the CPA exam is very valuable, and I do plan on obtaining it. My question though, is in CA, if I go on the tax path, does it matter if I get the attestation or general designation?
Re: CPA for someone with MST   [#permalink] 07 Dec 2010, 15:53
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