Which Letters After My Name?

Q: I am a 27-year-old senior financial analyst aiming to obtain a chief financial officer’s position within 10 to 12 years. Should I get an M.B.A. or should I just take the CPA exam?
–Name Withheld

A: “The answer isn’t as simple as choosing one or the other,” says Daniel H. Moore, CPA and national president of the National Association for Black Accountants.

Take a look at current CFOs. Do they hold an M.B.A., are they a CPA or both? Are there other professional certifications that are valued at particular companies or within certain industries? After some research, you’ll know which educational enhancements will help to make you the most marketable in reaching your goal.

Concerning the CPA exam, most states now require 150 hours of education as a condition of licensure. Even though you are a senior financial analyst, passing the exam could prove to be difficult if you don’t have a background in accounting or a closely related field, such as finance. If you decide to concentrate on one of these areas and go for an M.B.A. (see “This Way to an M.B.A.,” February 2000), carefully consider your choice of schools. Not all programs lead to executive-level positions.

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