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Charlie Don't Surf

Thinking Of Retraining At 36

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At present I do quite nicely as a web developer mostly running my own websites and making money out of advertising. However, I put in a ridiculous amount of effort and competition is growing all the time.

I live in Cornwall so the opportunities to do freelance work at a reasonable rate are slim. That leaves me without too many real choices - what pays relatively well even in the far West of Cornwall? (Suggestions welcome)

I don't think I'd have any problem on the academic side of things - i.e 1st class degree, A-Level in maths, understanding of economics(!) and have run my own business for 5 years. I've also retrained once before, whilst doing 2 jobs.

So, just wanted some opinions / suggestions. Is 36 too old to be thinking about starting a new profession?

Is accountancy worth getting into? Does it have a future(?!)

Any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance for any help suggestions.

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Fine if you want something steady and interesting (once you're above the clerk level). There are always jobs coming up.

If you want much of a life outside work you will want to stick at the lower levels. If you want more money from doing a senior job you will find yourself working very hard. It's not a profession that pays you for being very clever or experienced; those qualities will get you the job but then you need to produce.

36 is certainly not too old to start (some people start taking the exams in their 50s) and yes it does have a future. You won't make your fortune (especially in Cornwall) but if you're good, hard-working and reliable you will always get a job.

Junior qualifications are really just AAT, but given your background you should go for a senior one.

In descending order of prestige these are:

ACA - you really need to work at an audit firm to do this

ACCA - a very close second, probably the route to take

CIMA - easier, less well-regarded

CIPFA - are you mad?

The ACA and ACCA exams are tough though start reasonably easily. Being clever is not enough, you need to work very hard. They are much more difficult to complete than a first degree and, particularly for ACCA which is much easier to start, very few of those who sign up end up qualifying.

They are not, however, binary. You don't need to finish and part-qualified ACA / ACCA still carries a lot of weight.

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So, just wanted some opinions / suggestions. Is 36 too old to be thinking about starting a new profession?

Is accountancy worth getting into? Does it have a future(?!)

Any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance for any help suggestions.

36 isn't too old for a new profession but ...

The problem with accountancy is that at 36 you will NEVER qualify, in that for ACCA you need all the exams then 36 months experience and ontop of that you need 20 examples of your work experience...

Hence you will never get the experience things or the 36 months as nobody will employ you.

In that accountancy bosses are utterly ruthless , you will be competiting against 16 year old trainees and 21-24 year old graduates , in that if the bosses employ a 21 year old they receive a greater return on their 'investment' of training in that the younger person has the potential to work longer for them and is scared to kick up a fuss. The bosses know you need 36 months and the skills and exploit this. Older workers are seen as less exploitable hence less attractive.

Also the younger person is likely to be living at home and thus can be paid less (you ever lived on 8K a year?). It is different if you were working as a QBE (qualified by experience) or working as unqualified for years then decided to go get your professional qualification.

Hence you may well pass all the exams but never get the ACA/ACCA after your name , meaning the masses of time you spend studying after work is for naught. With 10000s of new grads and exam centres packed full of younger people there is an endless supply to be exploited so why employ you?.

I'm sorry but thats just the way it is... I learnt the hard way.

Accountancy practice does not have a future though , in that software and outsourcing is seriously supressing the wages (from the view of the employees at practices).

Some of the software is getting incredibly advanced and user friendly, digita tax for example got a serious update in 2005 and all of a sudden hundreds of hours of study and two exams taken in tax were rendered obselete as a few clicks of a button and some data entry calculated it all for you. My department suddenly found itself trying to justify their jobs , I left shortly after for various reasons , and the tax department was merged with the accounts staff , the tax department was made redundant and the accounts staff were given extra work for no extra pay.

Same with book keeping software its pretty annoying entering things the software will ask oh so you bought a new piece of equipment? , and it will automatically adjust the nomial code listings for you and will prepare a set of accounts to 99% completion, with the practice accountant just running 2-3 adjustments.

Outsourcing is even worse, Chindians with huge numbers of highly qualified staff will do jobs for £4-6 per hour , while typically PQs will do it for £12 an hour (inc NIC) , bosses will use this to freeze your wages , my old company got rid of 4 PQs (me Neil , Kate and Jack) and rehired 3 polish women to scan things to be outsourced.

But industry (if you can get a job) has a future, I'd like to jump into industry being 99% acca qualified but few are hiring.

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Oh I forgot about Cornwall bit , I started my accountancy career in Cornwall , in Truro there is a company called Winterule , they are fairly open minded about employing older people , if he is still there a guy called Frank Hitchen will be totally frank as to what the job involves.

You might also want to consider talking to a guy in Falmouth called Cliff Jenner , he was my first boss , he is always open to slave labour , go work for him under Simon for a week and you'll get to see what accountancy practice is really like.

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The ACA and ACCA exams are tough though start reasonably easily. Being clever is not enough, you need to work very hard. They are much more difficult to complete than a first degree and, particularly for ACCA which is much easier to start, very few of those who sign up end up qualifying.

They are not, however, binary. You don't need to finish and part-qualified ACA / ACCA still carries a lot of weight.

I disagree , ACA and ACCA exams are a exercise in memory , I've got a ton of ACCA textbooks downstairs and the exams are little more than memory exercises , well maybe not business analysis (I could have winged that one).

At level 3 they are pretty easy compared to say calculus or something , the difficulty is that you got to have a huge memory capacity , as the text books are often 5-1000 pages long in small type.

Everybody who does ACCA exams says the main difficulty is time , in everybody is still writing once the 3 hours is up, last exam I did I took 13 sheets of extra paper on both sides , but managed an 84% score.

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Kennichi - you seem to be thinking primarily about accountancy practice and big firms.

There are losts of very small companies in Cornwall where that law of the jungle doesn't apply. They will happily take on a 36 year old in preference to a 21 year old as they like the maturity.

They won't, however, pay them any more so your point about starting salary and what you need to live on is very relevant.

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I disagree , ACA and ACCA exams are a exercise in memory , I've got a ton of ACCA textbooks downstairs and the exams are little more than memory exercises , well maybe not business analysis (I could have winged that one).

At level 3 they are pretty easy compared to say calculus or something , the difficulty is that you got to have a huge memory capacity , as the text books are often 5-1000 pages long in small type.

Everybody who does ACCA exams says the main difficulty is time , in everybody is still writing once the 3 hours is up, last exam I did I took 13 sheets of extra paper on both sides , but managed an 84% score.

I found them hard for that reason. Conceptual stuff like calculus I find easy and breezed through any exams where you could basically pass them by being clever and thinking quickly.

These were the first exams I ever had to seriously work at. So yes conceptually they are easy, but committing that vast amount of data to memory is hard time-consuming work.

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I disagree , ACA and ACCA exams are a exercise in memory , I've got a ton of ACCA textbooks downstairs and the exams are little more than memory exercises , well maybe not business analysis (I could have winged that one).

At level 3 they are pretty easy compared to say calculus or something , the difficulty is that you got to have a huge memory capacity , as the text books are often 5-1000 pages long in small type.

Everybody who does ACCA exams says the main difficulty is time , in everybody is still writing once the 3 hours is up, last exam I did I took 13 sheets of extra paper on both sides , but managed an 84% score.

if you are a maths and economics bod and find them interesting there is far more earnings/job potential doing actuarial studies than Accountancy simply because actuaries are alot fewer in number. The exams are more difficult and thus qualification takes longer but you could do the first half in a couple of years to get the diploma and pretty much walk into employment from that point

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if he is still there a guy called Frank Hitchen will be totally frank as to what the job involves.

Yes, if you want to go into accountancy talktofrank.com you're gonna ******ing need him.

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Accountancy practice does not have a future though , in that software and outsourcing is seriously supressing the wages (from the view of the employees at practices).

Some of the software is getting incredibly advanced and user friendly, digita tax for example got a serious update in 2005 and all of a sudden hundreds of hours of study and two exams taken in tax were rendered obselete as a few clicks of a button and some data entry calculated it all for you. My department suddenly found itself trying to justify their jobs , I left shortly after for various reasons , and the tax department was merged with the accounts staff , the tax department was made redundant and the accounts staff were given extra work for no extra pay.

Same with book keeping software its pretty annoying entering things the software will ask oh so you bought a new piece of equipment? , and it will automatically adjust the nomial code listings for you and will prepare a set of accounts to 99% completion, with the practice accountant just running 2-3 adjustments.

Outsourcing is even worse, Chindians with huge numbers of highly qualified staff will do jobs for £4-6 per hour , while typically PQs will do it for £12 an hour (inc NIC) , bosses will use this to freeze your wages , my old company got rid of 4 PQs (me Neil , Kate and Jack) and rehired 3 polish women to scan things to be outsourced.

But industry (if you can get a job) has a future, I'd like to jump into industry being 99% acca qualified but few are hiring.

I would agree on that. Accountancy like software programming and a lot of technical service jobs is maybe not the wisest move long term right now.

Personally, I would recommend law - IT Law perhaps? The BCS/ISEB have qualifications in IT Law which seem very relevant. Law cannot be easily outsourced because the knowledge is specialised and location-dependent.

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You do something similar to me but I'm perplexed as to why you want to retrain and do an ordinary mugs job?

Your job gives you amazing freedom, maybe you just need to figure out how to double or triple your earnings? Too much competition? I'm sorry but that does not wash on the internet when you have a global audience. There are tons of niches to conquer with room for all.

The only thing I miss is having workmates to chat to. So for this reason I may pick up a bar job or something similar.

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Fine if you want something steady and interesting (once you're above the clerk level). There are always jobs coming up.

If you want much of a life outside work you will want to stick at the lower levels. If you want more money from doing a senior job you will find yourself working very hard. It's not a profession that pays you for being very clever or experienced; those qualities will get you the job but then you need to produce.

36 is certainly not too old to start (some people start taking the exams in their 50s) and yes it does have a future. You won't make your fortune (especially in Cornwall) but if you're good, hard-working and reliable you will always get a job.

Junior qualifications are really just AAT, but given your background you should go for a senior one.

In descending order of prestige these are:

ACA - you really need to work at an audit firm to do this

ACCA - a very close second, probably the route to take

CIMA - easier, less well-regarded

CIPFA - are you mad?

The ACA and ACCA exams are tough though start reasonably easily. Being clever is not enough, you need to work very hard. They are much more difficult to complete than a first degree and, particularly for ACCA which is much easier to start, very few of those who sign up end up qualifying.

They are not, however, binary. You don't need to finish and part-qualified ACA / ACCA still carries a lot of weight.

I think you are over-rating ACCA (vested interest - i am CIMA qualified)

I think that CIMA is more Industry Orientated and employers have more interest. Pass rates show that CIMA is harder.

Also I look round the office (Oil & Gas) and the staff are similar standard, but the ACCA candidates seem to swan through their exams, but the CIMA candidates are taking 2/4 attempts to pass. I think ACCA are easier exams to take and this is backed up by the pass rates. I always took a look at these over the last 4 years.

Back on Topic - 36 is not too late - I was 28 and went back to Uni going in at 2nd year and have followed up by doing Professional Exams. ( I dont think there is purpose in doing ACCA unlesss you are going into Public Practice)

But dont start out by taking Clerk's jobs - you will just get stuck in rut - need to set aspirations higher - have seen people leaving Uni with same qualification but some thought they would be "clerk" to gete experience and end up doing the same task 5 years later.

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if you are a maths and economics bod and find them interesting there is far more earnings/job potential doing actuarial studies than Accountancy simply because actuaries are alot fewer in number. The exams are more difficult and thus qualification takes longer but you could do the first half in a couple of years to get the diploma and pretty much walk into employment from that point

for the first exam there is a single text ' the theory of interest'. not thick, but a whole book on how to compound interest..

http://www.amazon.com/Theory-Interest-Step...n/dp/0256091501

my advise is stick with what you're doing, but upskill & try to specialize.

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if you are a maths and economics bod and find them interesting there is far more earnings/job potential doing actuarial studies than Accountancy simply because actuaries are alot fewer in number. The exams are more difficult and thus qualification takes longer but you could do the first half in a couple of years to get the diploma and pretty much walk into employment from that point

Same point about experience applies though, not good to load up on exams before you have picked up some relevant work experience. Plus trainee slots are harder to pick up.

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I think you are over-rating ACCA (vested interest - i am CIMA qualified)

I think that CIMA is more Industry Orientated and employers have more interest. Pass rates show that CIMA is harder.

Also I look round the office (Oil & Gas) and the staff are similar standard, but the ACCA candidates seem to swan through their exams, but the CIMA candidates are taking 2/4 attempts to pass. I think ACCA are easier exams to take and this is backed up by the pass rates. I always took a look at these over the last 4 years.

Back on Topic - 36 is not too late - I was 28 and went back to Uni going in at 2nd year and have followed up by doing Professional Exams. ( I dont think there is purpose in doing ACCA unlesss you are going into Public Practice)

But dont start out by taking Clerk's jobs - you will just get stuck in rut - need to set aspirations higher - have seen people leaving Uni with same qualification but some thought they would be "clerk" to gete experience and end up doing the same task 5 years later.

Okay, maybe a bit unfair on CIMA but it is a big company qualification so less appropriate for Cornwall. Most people in Cornwall do ACCA because of a lack of big companies and accountancy practices where they would do ACA.

Also, on a very practical level, AFAIK ACCA is the only senior qualification actually taught in Cornwall. I know people in Plymouth who have to go up to Bristol for ACA.

I am ACA btw in case you think I have a bias towards ACCA, I don't.

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ACA - you really need to work at an audit firm to do this

Not strictly true, but the company does have to be a registered training firm. There are a few non practice companies that have this status. You could even find out if your own company could register as one or if the hoops to jump through would be too much hassle.

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I changed career at about the same age, from a scientist to a word-spouter.

Go for it, it is bizarre to think one career is suitable for a whole life, with all the changes you go through. Creatives (like you) and scientists are most productive when they are young. So do it when you're young, then go and do something cynical and better paid. Accountancy is an old mans prrofession if ever there was one. Perfect.

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I changed career at about the same age, from a scientist to a word-spouter.

Go for it, it is bizarre to think one career is suitable for a whole life, with all the changes you go through. Creatives (like you) and scientists are most productive when they are young. So do it when you're young, then go and do something cynical and better paid. Accountancy is an old mans prrofession if ever there was one. Perfect.

I think the same things , ie finish off the ACCA qualification , then go do something else for a bit then make a return in a few years time. The thing about it is that you never have to retire in accountancy like Cliff who was pushing 80 , hence fewer worries about destitution in old age which is a scary prospect for many.

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Okay, maybe a bit unfair on CIMA but it is a big company qualification so less appropriate for Cornwall. Most people in Cornwall do ACCA because of a lack of big companies and accountancy practices where they would do ACA.

Also, on a very practical level, AFAIK ACCA is the only senior qualification actually taught in Cornwall. I know people in Plymouth who have to go up to Bristol for ACA.

I am ACA btw in case you think I have a bias towards ACCA, I don't.

maybe my opinion is clouded

there is no training in Aberdeen - everyone has to do distance learning and maybe ACCA is eaiser to pick up by distance.

I only went on course for Case Study and swanned through it compared to other exams.

In a way CA or ACA is easier - now the exams are harder i accept, but people are away on block release and given dedicated exam study time. I think this gives thema more positive opportunity to pass the exams

ICAEW pass rate is around the high 80's where else CIMA & ACCA are around the 40's/50's %

Anyway - end of day once its done, its a piece of paper either way and its a stepping stone - it doesn't dictate alone how well you will do - its good to have when you see all around you guys not passing - there must be about 15 fold at my work at different stages of the exams (ACCA & CIMA) and i only know of 4 who have finished them this last 6 years. Some are Finance Managers with no qualifications and some are CIMA qualified but GL Accountant.

I think my mate has destroyed his qualification (CA - ICAS) by sepnding the last 8 yeras contracting as a Cost Accountant.

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Accountancy is a wide ranging profession covering lots of different (and in some cases largely unrelated) areas, such as financial reporting, tax, auditing, insolvency and corporate recovery. Also, in business rather than practice, areas such as costing, budgeting and management.

Probably the best bet for the OP is to decide what area he wants to end up in and let that guide his decision.

Edit to add: One other area that is touched upon is asset valuation and investment appraisal methodologies - quite useful if you've an interest in house prices.

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I changed career at about the same age, from a scientist to a word-spouter.

Go for it, it is bizarre to think one career is suitable for a whole life, with all the changes you go through. Creatives (like you) and scientists are most productive when they are young. So do it when you're young, then go and do something cynical and better paid. Accountancy is an old mans prrofession if ever there was one. Perfect.

General you appear to be a prolific "word-spouter". ;) So well done if it pays.

I used to do Engineering.

I retrained in computer programming around early 90's. It cost me a bit in terms of lost wages, but I don't regret it!

Worked for a few major software houses and am now back in Engineering.

The difference is, the programmers can now no longer b**shit me!

Also, like you, I write reams on "how stuff should work", but I no longer have to make it work myself!

Accountancy is probably a good option. I have no particular knowledge of accountancy, but you won't end up

"too old" to do the job because your new manager is 22, and thinks you have hidden his "special blanket", as you will be most likely self-employed.

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I think changing careers is a very healthy thing to do... unless you are a GP and earning zillions per week :P

However, I have my doubts about becoming an accountant. From what I hear there are armies of unemployed accountants out there.

If I had my time again I would have gone hell for leather to become a GP or Dentist as it would have allowed me to work pretty much where I wanted. If I had time to retrain I probably would consider something like an Osteopath.

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Guest Skinty

I always wondered what kind of person wakes up one day and thinks ... "I want to be an accountant".

Although science and programming have satisfied certain criteria that I was looking for from a career, I've since learnt of other things to consider. Namely the ability to have skills that allow you to emigrate, to live in rural areas and also, I never quite appreciated how the most productive and useful members of society are also the most down-trodden.

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I always wondered what kind of person wakes up one day and thinks ... "I want to be an accountant".

Although science and programming have satisfied certain criteria that I was looking for from a career, I've since learnt of other things to consider. Namely the ability to have skills that allow you to emigrate, to live in rural areas and also, I never quite appreciated how the most productive and useful members of society are also the most down-trodden.

I am an IT guru - I can earn mega bucks if I travel but in Wales most IT jobs are in the Public Sector and are on an Admin Asst payscale so absolutely no way would I do such a damanding job for peanuts.

The problem is therfore I cannot work and make a living where I wish to live and where I can make a living I cannot live. When young it is not a problem but as you get older, think about relationships, being in your own bed each night and being in bed with your lover then it is an issue.

I wish I had known these things when young as it would have had a life-changing affect on what I studied in school, what I aimed to be.

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