Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday Morning, 3 AM

After weeks of distraction (thank you, Gov. Blagojevich, for your grade-A diversion), I'm forced to pay attention to my life today. My biopsy, the purpose of which is to rule out cancer, is scheduled for 11:30 this morning.

Fair warning: this won't be my most coherent post ever, or my most uplifting. This particular Wednesday morning, every sentence that comes to mind seems to involve soliciting your pity. The heck with that. I'd rather go back to bed, and give myself something I need much more than manipulated emotion. And I will, as soon as I can string something together here that's at least vaguely worth reading.

My computer is set to download Microsoft updates, if any, every morning at 3 AM. Tonight it was security updates as usual, after which it rebooted. I'd like to reboot myself now, please, and feel more secure.

I don't honestly believe I have cancer. I think it has to do with stress and my weight and the same wonky cocktail of hormones I've dealt with for decades. I've known since I was thirteen that my personal plumbing wasn't exactly reliable and predictable. Thousands of dollars about a decade ago failed to secure me a pregnancy, and I no longer regret that. John and I have a good life without a kid. At least, we do when we're both gainfully employed. But I've been unemployed for three months, and before that I was doing temp work with no job security, and before that I was working for a company that was in obvious financial stress and organizational upheaval. Of course I've been stressed. Really, I've had job-related stress since before First Magnus crashed and burned. I fully believe that the stuff I already know about myself, medically and personally, is more than enough to account for my one and only symptom that something could be wrong.

But facts and beliefs are not always the same thing. If there's a 20% chance that something is wrong beyond the same wonky mix of hormones, genetics and who-knows-what else I've had all my life, then it must be tested for. So I'll be doing that today. It will go on a credit card that currently has no balance. And if the 80% comes through, I've spent about $300 on peace of mind, knowing I'm not going to be financially ruined and personally tested by a relatively curable cancer, then that's a bargain.

And maybe then I'll be able to face up to this whole CPA thing. I've been researching CPA vs. CIA (Certified Internal Auditor) review courses, testing and certification, and the job prospects, and what I want to actually do for a living. Becoming a CPA looks like my best bet, and really, in a perfect world I'd go beyond that for a specialty in forensic accounting. But let's start with the CPA part.

Except that I'm not sure it's going to be as simple as studying for three months, taking the fearsome battery of tests, and voila.

CPA Exam Requirements (R4-1-226, ARS 32-723)

Education Requirements

In Arizona, you must have a baccalaureate degree conferred from a regionally accredited college or university and at least 24 semester hours of accounting courses and 18 semester hours of related courses. The accounting and related course credit must be listed on the transcript from the school where you originally took the courses. If you have transcripts that show a combination of quarter hours and semester hours, you can convert the quarter hours to semester hours by dividing the quarter hours by 3 and multiplying by 2; e.g., a six (6) quarter-hour course divided by 3 and multiplied by 2 is equal to four (4) semester hours.

I've got this. No problem. But...

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I apply to be an Arizona CPA?
You can apply at any time as long as you have the education, work experience and have passed the CPA examination as Arizona requires. The certification process requires a substantial amount of information to evaluate your credentials to be an Arizona CPA. See below for the process and specific requirements.

What is the education requirement for CPA certification?
The education requirement is 150-hours of education with a baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited college or university. This must include at least 36 semester hours of accounting, including at least 30 hours of upper level coursework (R4-1-343(A)(5)), plus 30 semester hours of related courses (A.R.S.32-701(15)). PLEASE NOTE the educational requirements to take the Uniform CPA Exam in Arizona are different than the requirements to be certified (Education Requirement for Exam).
150 credit hours, check. My Syracuse University coursework, added to the University of Phoenix stuff, easily covers this. The specific hourly requirements I'm not so sure about. I think the University of Phoenix program was designed to meet this standard, but whether it does depends on which courses fall into which categories. If they miscalculated or standards have changed, then I may need to drop another grand or two that I don't have on grad school courses, not to get an MBA or other degree, but just to make sure I've got all my hours in.

What is "experience"?
For Arizona certification, experience may be achieved by being a staff accountant in any of the following: an office of a CPA, in private business or industry, in government (at federal, state or local level); in education, courts or other public institutions. This experience should expose you to the practice of accounting through one or more of the following types of work: evaluating, recording and summarizing accounting records; management advisory services, review, analysis and reporting; auditing; preparing financial summaries; taxation assistance. If you are already licensed or certified in another state, self-employment as a CPA may be counted, as well.

How is experience verified?
One of the forms in the Certification Application packet is called a Certificate of Experience. This is completed by each of your supervisors during the years you are using to qualify for experience. If your supervisor was/is a CPA in another state, we also need the state licensing the CPA to verify that he/she is in good standing. This is done by submitting a Licensure Verification to the appropriate state board.

How much experience do I need?
As of January 1, 2006, all applications received fall under the 150-hour requirement, which requires one year of experience. Part time experience (less than 30 hours per week) can count toward the requirement as long as it equals the total time of experience required (1500 hours total). Combinations of full time and part time may be used. Volunteer or intern work will also count as long as it meets the experience definition and was performed under a qualified person in the accounting field.

Okay. either I didn't notice this bit about the form before, or it wasn't mentioned when I first looked up the requirements back in 2005. I didn't get the controller or assistant controller at First Magnus to sign anything for me during my 27 months with them, nor my boss at Beaudry before she left, nor anyone else I've worked with. If I could track down some of these people retroactively, adding up to a year or more, would that serve? Or does my experience reset at zero because I didn't get the form filled out at the time? The FAQ seems to imply that I needed to get the signature while I was still working with them.

I'm probably worrying about nothing. The course work is more than adequate to sit for the exam, and I could take an additional class or two later if I had to, once I'm working again. Even actively pursuing the CPA is a plus on a resume, especially once I get through the review course and pass the exam. It could easily take a year of working some new job on the horizon before I actually get everything nailed down. And in the unlikely event that I actually have cancer, my best bet is still to do everything I can to get a good job and work toward becoming a CPA, so that I can pay off my medical bills and have a shot at working off my other debts, particularly my student loans.

Courage, Karen. Now go back to bed.


From Tucson Sunsets


DesLily said...

keep positive thoughts. I will. but will admit, it's hard when you are scared (I get scared easily) So I know you will be more than glad when this is all over and the results are "no cancer" !

Florinda said...

I'll keep good thoughts for you regarding those medical tests.

Regarding the CPA, you are more motivated than I am. Twenty years in, and I have never had the desire to pursue one, although I've considered the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) a few times, since it seems to be a better fit with my experience. But I'm pretty sure you're right that as long as you have the academic qualifications, you can sit for the exam - the experience requirement counts for licensing and could be verified or completed later, or so I understand.

And isn't there a Simon and Garfunkel album with the same title as your post :-)?