How to be a CPA, and not be a CPA at all (Alternative Accounting Careers)

alternative accounting careers

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Most people think accountants keep their heads down, work in cubes, are boring people, and have a hard time getting a date. They’re not aware there are so many alternative accounting careers where you’re using your experience, but doing something TOTALLY different.

You never hear someone say, “Oh yes, accountants are giants, captains of industry.”

Young people and those engaged in the profession need to understand and act on the idea that the most important thing when it comes to your professional life is YOUR personal happiness! Don’t like your boss. Quit. Don’t like your clients. Quit. Don’t like your job. Quit. If you’re not happy and motivated with what you’re doing, your talents are WASTED!

This article is going to feature a few incredible people who are CPA’s and have done just that. They come from all different accounting backgrounds but they all have one thing in common. They had the courage to do something different. Something they love. Some are entrepreneurs, others are employees. But they share two things in common: they are CPAs, and they’ve taken the road less traveled.

Caleb Newquist – Founding Editor of & Editor in Chief at Sift Media

Caleb has for a number of years been noted among the Top 100 most influential members of the accounting industry. He started as the founding editor and in a few years it has become one of the most popular accounting news sources in the industry. Caleb always wanted to be involved in higher level conversations and policy at KPMG (where he started his career). When he was fired in the wake of the recession of 2008, that was the catalyst that led to his new path. Incredible story and an inspiration. Whether it’s being fired, or quitting your job, you can become one of the most famous people in the industry in just a few years with a little courage, and a lot of hard work!

Allan Koltin- CEO of Koltin Management Group

One of the biggest pieces of propaganda taught to young people in the accounting profession today is that you MUST work for the Big 4 accounting firms. Otherwise, you’re destined for a second rate career. When I met Allan, it was the first time I realized “WOW, there are a lot more opportunities across this industry, I have to learn more”.

While Allan has made quite a name for himself, he had humble beginnings. He flunked several accounting courses and two cracks at the CPA exam. Now it is estimated he has has been involved in up to half of the accounting industry’s significant mergers since 2004, and maybe more. Allan is famous for striking merger and acquisition deals for the Top 500 accounting firms in the US. He’s been called, “The Most Interesting Man In Accounting” after the Dos Equis Ads. And you have to give credit where it’s due. Allan works where big money, acquisitions, mergers, and accounting firms mix. Many students in University probably don’t even know this career path exists!

Paul Scolardi was a CPA by trade, and is now a veteran stock trader of 17 years, financial educator and self-made millionaire.

After 16 years as a certified public accountant starting as an auditor at Arthur Andersen and working in Corporate Finance as a Controller and CFO, Scolardi left the 9-to-5 corporate finance grind for full-time trading stocks and teaching others to do the same. He is CEO of, where he has personally made over $1M in 2014 and teaches his day trading strategies to over 1,100 students in over 50 countries.

Along with features by Bloomberg, BusinessWeek and Seeking Alpha, Scolardi was named one of The Street’s Top 10 Traders to Follow on Twitter (@super_trades).

Ryan Watson, CEO of

Ryan used to work in the Big 4 and for a global consulting firm. But a few years ago, in his mid twenties, he quit to start his own CPA firm, After a few years, he realized his firm’s biggest challenge was coordinating all the requests from their many clients (They landed over 50 in their first year!). To solve this problem, he created Sqrl ( After spending countless hours buried in email and clumsy project management software, the he knew there had to be a better way to efficiently capture client information and deliver on their virtual service offering. Insert Sqrl’s technology. And now Ryan is a full time technology entrepreneur and in early 2014, Sqrl raised over $500,000 in their first round of venture capital financing!

These are just a few of the many examples of CPA’s that aren’t CPA’s at all! There is absolutely nothing wrong with becoming a Partner, Controller, CFO or any other stereotypical accounting job out there. But we all know about those opportunities already. We’ve heard about this options from the first class in Accounting 101.

If you’ve felt down about your future, your career choice, or your current job don’t worry. If you just graduated and don’t like your first job, this article has proven there is an entire WORLD out there in this industry. Your dissatisfaction is telling you something, listen to it. You may be on the cusp of something HUGE! Take bold action. You may be surprised what happens next!