You know obtaining CPA licensure is the best thing you can do for your career. Not only does it open the door for higher salary and professional mobility — it’s also readily recognizable as the Gold Standard in the accounting and finance professions.
However, you’re not the only one who knows this. Firms do too. They understand that a staff comprised of CPAs improves business as it allows them to offer more diversified services, expand their client base, and charge higher billable hours.
It’s no wonder that firms incentivize their employees to pass the CPA Exam as soon as possible. But it’s also in your best interest to do the same. To ensure you’re both working together to reach this common goal, it’s up to you to take initiative. Here are some areas of discussion you can have with your manager to show how they can support you so you’re set up for success.
- Set clear expectations. As a CPA candidate, you must be able to demonstrate to your team and manager(s) that you’re able to study for the CPA Exam while completing high-quality work in a timely manner. Setting clear work expectations and goals with them will ensure agreed accountability from both parties at the get-go. For example, if there are certain times or days that you’ll be dedicating to studying, communicate this to them so they know when you’re available. Or if there is a large project with a tight deadline, work with them on your involvement level so your studying isn’t completely disrupted.
- Establish balance. Similar to a firm’s busy season, studying for the CPA Exam while working full-time requires taking breaks to maintain energy and focus. You should be granted the opportunity to refresh and regroup regularly and healthily. This can include stepping away for several minutes or a couple hours to hydrate, meditate, eat healthy, exercise, or simply spend time doing something you enjoy to establish a good balance between work and studying while simultaneously avoiding burnout.
- Provide flexibility. The key to success on the CPA Exam is establishing a realistic study plan and sticking to it, prioritizing your professional and CPA Exam goals accordingly. You can ask your firm to support these initiatives by providing flexibility when possible. This can include half days or full days off to dedicate to studying or recharging, being put on lower-priority tasks close to Exam day dates, having more lenient deadlines, or anything else you can work together on to optimize the situation.
- Access to helpful, relevant resources. It’s important to have access to other outlets or channels you may need to make your CPA Exam journey more manageable. Ask your firm if there are CPA Exam resources they can provide you with, such as study groups with other colleagues going through the same experience, mentorship, employee wellness programs, and access to other CPA organizations or memberships that provide additional exam support and resources.
- Offer the right CPA Exam Review course. Successful candidates use a CPA review course to prepare for the exam. Firms know this is an important factor, which is why they are usually partnered with one or more review courses you can choose from. However, keep in mind that not one review course fits everyone’s learning style; make sure your firm offers one that meets your needs.
If they aren’t partnered with the one you want, let them know. Most firms will reimburse you for the course you choose. Many people don’t know about this option, so remember to utilize it to your advantage.
Although your firm wants you to pass as much as you do, in the end, your success is entirely up to you. Advocate for yourself by taking charge and not being afraid to speak up or ask questions. Work with your manager to ensure the best outcome since obtaining licensure won’t only make you a stronger employee, but a more valuable one.
Being a full-time professional and CPA Exam candidate is no easy task, but with the right mindset and support, it can be done!
Written by Karina Khadaran
PHR, SHRM-CP, Marketing & Business Development Manager at UWorld Roger CPA Review
A version of this article originally appeared in Next Gen: The New York State Society of CPA’s Professional Development Guide.