Career guidance

so I’m trying to eventually become a financial analyst. I have a BA in business economics from a 4 year college, but I only took a couple accounting courses. I’m not even eligible to take the CPA exam in my state (california). I heard that accounting jobs could help me get my foot in the door like staff accounting, accounts payable/receivable, but I really don’t have that accounting experience that anyone’s looking for. I was thinking about going for an associate’s in accounting from a community college, but it seems there’s a limit with that as it’s not enough to become an actual accountant. I’m studying for the CFA exam, but I want to see if there’s other things I can do to make progress towards becoming a financial analyst. I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket and have everything weighing solely on that exam. what are some good ways to break into financial analysis?

What’s your age? If you want to do accounting but can’t get your foot in the door, it may be best to do a Masters in Accounting at a reputable school somewhere. From my understanding that is a pretty fool proof way assuming you do well.

I’m 25. I was considering going for an mba with an accounting or finance concentration, but my undergrad gpa was pretty low when I graduated. I’m skeptical if any graduate programs would accept me, but I’m open to the idea. is there any other way I could get accounting experience without going to university? is there any other way to get into finance without being an accountant first?

“Financial Analyst” is very broad. It could mean so many things. I was on an interview last week for a Senior Financial Analyst position at a big firm (top 5 by market cap so take a guess) and they had no idea wtf the CFA program was. But assuming you’re interested in quant analytics, here’s what I’d suggest:

  1. Improve your Excel skills, and learn how to build complex financial models. 2. Learn basic data mining like using SQL. 3. Learn Tableau - it’s very popular now and a buzz word in job descriptions. 4. Continue progressing in the CFA program. You’ll learn a lot.

So if you are really focused on accounting do the accounting masters rather than an MBA. Most are shorter, they’re more technical and will be a more direct line into accounting with higher success probability. Going to a well recognized national university is important. I don’t think being an accountant will get you into investment type finance, although I think that door is for all effective purposes permanently closed to you. It will allow for transition into like corporate finance and reporting type roles though. As an aside because you asked, there are tons of ways into finance, nearly all of which don’t involve accounting, but most involve a pedigree of academic and professional excellence from recognized upper tier institutions.

@tactics so what can I put on my resume to show the excel, financial modeling, sql and tableau? are there certifications I can work towards that will showcase this? certain positions I can apply for?

@blackswan, so basically you’re saying accounting is a no go for me at this point? or investment type finance? and otherwise, good academic performance gets me into finance positions? is there anything other than academics? like certain positions I can work? or positions that can cross over into finance? I was thinking about applying for business analyst, market research analyst roles, cost analyst/budget analyst. I googled finance positions and those came up.

also, what do you guys think of working my way up to staff accountant from bookkeeping? I see on a lot of job postings that they want a bachelor’s in a related field (sometimes they mention economics, but usually finance/accounting), so if I get an associate’s, get some experience with bookkeeping and maybe general ledger, would that be a good accounting background to become a staff accountant or transition into finance? I apologize for long text. tl;dr what if I AA in accounting -> bookkeeping -> staff accountant -> finance I would be fine with a corporate finance or reporting role. I’m interested in becoming a research analyst. investment banking sounds stressful.

No, on the contrary, I think accounting could definitely work and corporate finance related roles, I just don’t think investment type finance is a likely path. All of the roles you mentioned are possibilities, although I think transitioning to investment finance from there could be unlikely but maybe possible.

I don’t think you will ever be a research analyst. I think most of what you’re saying is reasonable but then the last parts where you jump to investment finance are not plausible. Bookkeeping to accounting is possible, but very unlikely and you may try to cut your wrists in the process. I guess I’m confused why you would waste time on an associates in accounting (moving backwards from a bachelors) which would have almost no value when you could do graduate level work on a masters in accounting (moving forwards) and have a desirable skill set for accounting. But realize that you are likely to never go from accounting to research, however accounting to corp finance or reporting seems very possible.

@blackswan its just that a master’s would require a lot of money and I’d have to be worried about getting admitted to graduate school. associate’s is cheaper and accessible. I can fund it without loans. I was thinking I would need something to show my accounting base, which it doesn’t look like my bachelor’s does sufficiently. I only took 1 or 2 accounting courses and focused on economics/statistics/econometrics type of courses. ok, so what is it I could do to get into accounting if bookkeeping transition would be difficult? and why is bookkeeping to accountant difficult? could I transition from accounting associate or junior accountant? accounts receivable/payable? and is it only by taking more upper division college courses that I could enter accounting?