Am I wasting my time?

14 Replies

Hi Everyone, 

My name is Thomas and I just turned 24. I have been an auditor for about a year now and currently working towards the CPA exam. By the end of 2015 I should be finished. 

Real Estate is where my passion lies. I have done plenty of research, networking, attend monthly meetings, etc - and am currently involved in a multifamily deal. My plans are to build a team and start my own business around investing in multifamily apartments.  After I obtain the  CPA, I plan to obtain a position as a Commercial Real Estate Financial Analyst at a bank, investment firm, REIT, or similar organization and during the same time start working on my own deals.

My question is: Should I just finish getting my CPA license since I have came this far already - or stop and focus on real estate only? The work is not directly related to real estate, and because I don't see a future for myself in accounting, it seems as if I am wasting my time.

Thank you

Thomas, There is no right or wrong way to get into real estate investing. I did a very similar career route and while I never practiced as a CPA, it has been invaluable in both opening opportunities and providing insight into investment options. I highly encourage you to complete your certification after all a large part of real estate investing is about taxes.

Best of luck

Nicolas at AHC Capital

I would go ahead and finish the CPA exam, it would be a nice thing to have under your belt. I think it will help you in the future. 

I'd complete the course.  You should have something to fall back on, a lot of people don't succeed at real estate.   Heck , you could always do both!

@Thomas Castelli

I know exactly where you are coming from and I know why you are asking this question - the CPA exam is tough man! It beats you down and makes you question why in the world you are even pursuing it and whether or not it's worth more time (especially FAR, what a beast that exam was - who has time to memorize 1k pages and 5k multiple choice questions?!).

People will likely tell you to continue to pursue the CPA, though they haven't been in your shoes so they don't really understand the immense value obtaining your CPA will add to your life. These people shouldn't just tell you to complete the cert, they should be yelling it at the tops of their lungs!

I'm also 24 and obtained my CPA cert not too long ago. It gives me instant credibility with everyone I talk to and allowed me to start a side biz focusing on providing tax and advisory services to real estate investors. My CPA cert is going to help me build an immense amount of wealth over the next 30 years, I know this for a fact.

Don't give up. I questioned it just as you are now as they studying truly does wear you down. Once you are on the other side, you will be thankful that you stuck with it.

Also, check out if you haven't already. Great place to talk with CPA candidates and find some motivation.

Having a CPA can only be an asset to your career in Real Estate Investing. It's a personal decision of course, but I would complete the course if I were you. Good luck.

Make that 5 votes for finishing you CPA exam. 

I was not clear on what your goals are but it seems like you want to work for a large real estate company and use your Job income to invest in real-estate? 

Or were you wanting to start your own JOB (self employed)  in real-estate and the use proceeds from this to invest in real-estate?  

(not trying to sound confusing)

Ether way I would finish the CPA exam.  If you do chose to go full time into a real-estate JOB then you can use the CPA Job to get you as close to the the jump off point before you make the Jump.

I hope this helps/makes sense 


it sounds like the time and money required to finish your education is already mostly spent. if this is true, I'd consider you to be pot committed.

 in terms of risk vs reward: 

 if you quit now, you will save some time and money. However, the time and money you already have invested will not have produced as good a return as you should expect. Also, if you decide later to complete this education, you will likely spend even more time and money to get back to the point where you are right now.

 if you finish now, the additional time and money you invest will increase the value of the time and money that you have already put into your education... and you will have a nice credential which will lend you credibility in your real estate endeavors.

 I don't know at which age time really starts to fly,but from my 36 year old perspective 7 months is but a passing moment - a flash in the pan.I'm pretty sure that your future self will agree with me when I tell you that you should definitely finish your education now; IMO quitting now, in hindsight, will prove to be a foolish youthful mistake.

Best of luck.

Thank you all for the advice. It is clear that I just finish the CPA exam. I will que up a real estate tax book on my reading list!

@Brandon Hall

Yes, the rigor of the CPA exam has made me question if it is all worth it. Luckily I passed FAR already, AUD next. Thanks for the words of encouragement. Glad to hear that the CPA creates credibility. 

@Joshua D.

Correct, I plan  to work as an analyst for a firm/bank then use the money as starting capital, the job itself will provide valuable experience and add credibility, and I will be immersed by real estate.  What you said makes perfect sense and is what I hope to do!

Thanks again everyone for the encouragement, it is appreciated. Hopefully I'll be able to provide value to the BP community in the future!  

Hi Thomas,

I feel your pain, I don’t know much about CPA, but I struggled through a similar situation. It took me 7 years to get my college degree, because I struggled with the same exact situation. “Why go to school and get in a ton of debt for something I will never use.” I dropped out 3 times…I wasn’t dumb (I had a 4.25/4.00 GPA at 16 years old my freshman year in college – just bored and pointless). The first time I dropped out to pursue a business that I was sure wouldn’t fail…it did! I desperately searched for a job and finally found one after 6 months when my savings was almost gone (they didn’t want a college dropout). Once I got a job I was doing really well getting promoted and raises every 6 months, then I remember my friend who was the party animal who stuck with it and got his degree was going to be making 50k right out of college and I was making 32k after two years of hard work. That day I made a decision to go back to college and then…I went through the same cycle, dropped out twice more and finally got degree back in August after 7 years. I’ve got an amazing job now and upside is huge. I have heard several times on several podcasts and I agree that it’s nice to have a job and invest on the side. The more you make the more you can invest too and just cash stack like crazy!

The other side to the coin is that I don’t want to be that guy that tells you not to drop out of college and start a business that very well could be massively successful. If you have a burning desire and will do whatever it takes to make it work then I am sure you will make it happen! There are countless stories: Microsoft, FedEx, GoPro, and hundreds of others who made it work. I just want to make sure you’re not just going through what I went through and looking for an excuse (like I was) to drop out of college or not take the CPA test. I am sure whatever you decide you will be fine, you sound like a go getter!


I definitely agree with @Brandon Hall  

I'm in the process of the CPA exam, working full time in public, and flipping mobile homes. I slept 4 hours last night. 

It's doable. Just buy pallets of redbull. 

Knowing you can move to any market and get a job that will pay well enough to let you get a bank loan for properties is a pretty valuable card to hold. 

Also the credibility is a huge benefit especially at a young age. 

@Thomas Castelli

@Brandon Hall  

@Natalie Kolodij

First of all, I'm going to take advantage of my position as an "old guard" CPA to give you some "In my day..." insight

In my day, you had to sit for all four parts of the exam at the same time.  It was given twice per year in May and November.  You trudged into a convention center or the like with several thousand of your closest friends and you were secure in the knowledge that, on that day, the same process was being repeated in every state of the union, in multiple locations per state.

If you passed two or more parts of the exam, you could keep those results and then sit for the parts you failed.  If you passed only one part, too bad.  You get to take that part again.

None of this "one part at a time" nonsense.  And certainly no private testing center with a computer and a comfy chair.  

The proctors walked up and down the rows to make sure you weren't cheating.  You were allowed to bring nothing.  They provided the pencils, the calculators and the scratch paper.  You also had to write, completely from memory, an unqualified opinion letter from scratch.

When I was studying, I was 32 years old (I'm a late bloomer).  I was single parent to a kindergartener and I was working full time.  My mother called me up one day and asked me how things were going.  I broke down.  Sobbing all over the phone.  Told her I couldn't ever START studying until after my son went to bed at night and I was really far behind in my review class, etc, etc.  By the end of the conversation, I had agreed to put my son on a plane to Florida so she could watch him for 7 weeks while I finished the review class and took the exam.  Debit guilt, credit stress.

So when I tell you that I totally get the stress you're under and that I sympathize with you wondering if it's all worth it...  you know I'm not full of Sh**.  I've been there and I hear you and I totally understand.

So here's what I'm going to tell you.

Stick with it.  It's totally worth it and, in the long run, you will be amazingly glad you did it.  My salary went up $20,000 when I got my certificate.  I had instant credibility.  When I meet people in real estate now, I just say "I'm a CPA" and it's like the old EF Hutton commercials (yes, you're too young for them - youtube it).  My CPA has opened doors for me that would otherwise be closed.

Life has no guarantees.  The economy could tank (again) and you could be VERY VERY happy to have that CPA to fall back on.  It will open job opportunities for you that would otherwise be closed.  You say you want to work for a reit or the like.  CPAs preferred for those jobs, I guarantee it.

You may not need a CPA to do REI. But let me give you an example of something that happened just the other day. I had filled out a loan application for a bank and the loan officer didn't understand where some of my numbers were coming from. As we went through the figures, I casually mentioned that I'm a CPA. I could almost hear the sudden relaxing of her stance over the phone. Her entire manner changed and instead of an almost accusatory tone, we were just two financial people walking through numbers on the phone. Easy Peasy.

Not only does your CPA give you instant credibility from a knowledge standpoint, it also gives you almost instant trustworthiness.  The public knows that we have to comply with high ethics standards in order to keep our licenses and they are much less concerned about being screwed over than if you were just some guy who started a CPA program never finished.  At one point in time (before Enron) a CPA was the second most trusted profession in this country, right behind priests, pastors and other religious leaders.  We've slipped down a bit since some of us dragged the rest of us in the mud with their shenanigans, but we're still in the top 10 of trusted professions.

TL;dr - DO IT!!!!

Definitely finish the exams! I'm an active CPA and even though I don't plan on doing it forever, the knowledge will still help with investing. Being able to keep your own spotless books and having a foundation of tax knowledge helps, but really the main thing is the credibility it brings. People instantly take you more seriously when they know you're licensed. Stick through it and old you will thank young you.


@Thomas Castelli only you can really answer the question of if you should stop or keep going. And it ultimately boils down to what aspect of real estate you're most intersted in. Nailing the CPA exam would be quite an accomplishment and those credientials would serve you well in real estate. #s are involved in any real estate transaction. So I personally would continue BUT that's only if that doesn't detract you from what you really want to be doing. If you can do both at the same time then I say go for it. 

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