Too Old To Become a CPA?

I recently received an interesting question from a student who was thinking of buying our CPA study materials.

She asked me if she thought that being 33 to start writing the CPA exams. This woman has no accounting experience and she would need to take some courses in order to build up the credit hours necessary to become a CPA.

My initial answer was ‘absolutely go for it.’  However, there are several variables that one might want to consider.

First of all, it will probably take this woman almost two years in order to pass the exams and obtain the necessary credits. Secondly,  if the ambition is to work for the Big 4, starting an accounting career in your mid-thirties is probably a long shot. Finally, everyone has a different family circumstance. If she is planning to have young children in the next few years her plans to enter the CPA profession might be further delayed.

However, as a general rule, I know a lot of people in their forties who are recently minted CPA’s. If one has a burning desire to enter the field, age should not be a factor.

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Many people still have a career plan that they might retire at the age of 55. This is highly unlikely given that life spans are zooming forward. Retire at 55 and live until 90? Most people will not be able to afford that. Since the retirement age is continually shooting upwards it is probably most realistic to prepare to retire at 70 or 75 if you are in your twenties. Everyone who hates their job is cringing at the thought of working so long but

Considering that the average American has saved nothing for retirement you will see people retiring later and later in life. One must remember that retirement benefits after 65 were implemented when the life standard was only 67. In other words, people used to work until they died. Thus, if people live well into their 80’s you can expect people to work well into their 70’s. Thus, if you start a CPA career at 35 you might still have 35+ years where you can hone your craft and enjoy the profession.