Why I Became a CPA at the Age of 44


Hello. My name is Stephen Morano and I am from New Jersey.  I have been married for almost 22 years and have 2 daughters, ages 16 and 12.  I enjoy listening to music, writing, quiet time and craft beer. And I’d like to share my story about how I become a CPA at the age of 44. 

My long career in transportation and logistics came to an end due to the economic downturn of 2008. 

It was really hard to find a job after this.  I was applying to companies that, like every other company, were downsizing.  My job search at that time was one dead-end after another.

I thought about making myself more marketable, but I wasn’t sure how.  My wife suggested that I maybe attend community college to get a few classes under my belt.  We would live on one salary while I focused on management type courses to add to my current background.  It seemed like a great idea, except I never went to college before. 

So, at age 37, I entered college for the first time. 

I was extremely nervous, but after the encouragement of my professors, it didn’t take long for me to build confidence and to realize that I can do this.  So much so, that I quickly decided to focus on a degree program.  

A requirement of my degree was financial accounting, and my professor would always ask me what I was going to school for and I answered him the same way each time: management.  He kept pointing out to me that he thought I would make a great accountant.  He would tell me that I was really good with numbers and he felt I was picking up theory quickly.  I would think to myself, accountant?  Sounds boring…I am used to working outside, being active, talking and laughing.  Accountants don’t laugh, do they?

Another requirement was managerial accounting. 

It was here that I began to become interested in accounting.  I began to appreciate the logic and order of accounting.  I like logical and orderly things.  I also like writing with pencils.  I started to think that this accounting thing may be perfect for me.  I still thought I would end up back in my previous field, but maybe with an accounting focus instead of an operational one.

I graduated with an Associate Degree in Business Administration and decided that if I was going to pursue this career, that I would need to continue on to my Bachelor’s Degree.  I enrolled in a state college and took just about every accounting class available.  At age 41, I graduated with a Bachelor Degree of Science in Business Administration with an accounting focus.     

Before I graduated, I interned in corporate accounting. 

I watched the external auditors come in and out, asking for stuff all day long.  I saw how people reacted to these auditors.  I saw their fear and thought to myself: I want to be one of those auditors.  After my internship, I applied to a local firm and it wasn’t long before I received a call for an interview.  It felt good hearing how my resume stuck out for many reasons, one of which was my GPA. 

I was hired under the understanding that to work in public accounting, I would be expected to obtain my CPA license.  I thought to myself: sure, no problem.  I was just excited that all my hard work had paid off…but it was actually it was just beginning.    

In 2012, I began work as a Staff Accountant in the Governmental Services Department and worked on audit engagements. 

I worked for about a year before I began to think about my CPA journey.  After investigating many different options, I decided to watch a few sample videos of Roger.  I thought, this guy is someone I would hang out with, so how could I go wrong?  

My study habits were intense.  I planned the work, and worked the plan.  I took advantage of the study guides Roger had available.  I used the nine-month planner and finished on time.  I kept the same schedule each day.  I typically would study from 6pm until midnight each night.  I would take a little break to say goodnight to my wife and kids.  I took off one night a week, either Friday or Saturday but never both.  If there was something that I just could not miss, I would double up on a lesson if it didn’t line up with my one night off. This exam was no joke, and I had to take it seriously.  

One of the biggest struggles for me during this time was that my daughters were young and didn’t quite understand what I was doing. 

They remembered me studying while in college, and wondered why I was still studying.  My wife was very supportive and understood the ultimate goal.  We did our best to explain to the girls that this was temporary.  My wife would jokingly say that she was a single mom.  For me, this was the commitment this exam required. 

I began studying with Roger in the Fall of 2013. 

I took my first test in November of 2013 and my last test in July of 2014.  I can honestly say that Roger has a unique way of keeping all of this stuff interesting.  Everyone has their favorite study program; however, I cannot imagine going through this journey any other way.  If it wasn’t for the laughing while studying, I would have probably fallen asleep.

After passing all four parts, and because I was a New Jersey candidate, I had to obtain an additional 30 credits for a total of 150 credits before I could be licensed.  This was right about the time I was promoted to Senior Accountant.  So along with my new job responsibilities, came my return to school in September of 2014: full-time, at night, after work.   I remembered that I loved school, so I took advantage of this.  While earning my degree(s), I realized I also liked psychology, so I focused on different types of psychology classes and finished in two semesters.  I had my CPA license, in my hands, August 2015 at the age of 44.          

In July of 2017, I was promoted to Audit Manager. 

I enjoy helping others at work with their journey as well.  I still talk to some of my accounting professors and hope someday to return to school for a Master’s Degree.  I would eventually like to teach accounting part-time at night.  I do not believe that any of this happened just because I lost my job in 2008; I would have eventually found another one.  I believe that all of this happened because I stepped out of my comfort zone to grow.

For every CPA Exam candidate out there, whether you’ve just graduated from college as an accounting major, or are looking to switch careers to become a CPA to improve your professional and personal life, know that you can do this. As Roger states, “If you study, you will pass.” If you keep to your study schedule and have the end goal in sight, you’ll be a CPA in no time. 

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