The High Costs of Waiting

November 7, 2012

Cayci Branum
Audit Senior

When I was in the last semester of my masters program, I remember just wishing for the tests to end and to graduate so I could start earning a paycheck. I never imagined how difficult it would be to work every day, (including weekends during busy season) and trying to study and pass the CPA exam. Just like every college student, I was repeatedly warned of the dangers and difficulties of waiting until after you graduate; and like most college kids, I just wanted to work and hang out with my friends instead of spending more time studying. I’ll be the first to tell anyone that you only THINK you are busy as a student and that it will never compare to the life of a working accountant. While it is a rewarding job that you continue to learn from and grow into, it does require a lot of your time.

I decided to do a little research to roughly calculate the “high costs” of taking the CPA exam while working. I emailed my co-workers, who are all at different levels of their career to figure out what each of them spent to pass the exam. Studying materials alone cost usually about $1,500 and each part of the exam costs approximately $200 to take. Not only does it take on average three years to complete the exam, but you also incur quite a bit of costs between retakes and rescheduling. However, keep in mind that most firms will reimburse their employees for the costs of taking the exam and the study materials, in addition to providing bonuses for passing the exam before starting work. I polled twelve co-workers; six that passed while in school and six that waited until they started working, and on average, the people who waited ended up spending $7,500 more dollars to pass the exam. When you see the “high costs” in a dollar figure, it really makes you think! If you have the opportunity to study and complete the exam or even parts before you start working, you will not only save time, but a whole lot of money.