Going from Engineering to Accounting may not seem like the logical next step, but it’s what worked for me, and it has benefited me far beyond what I thought it would. For today’s business quickie: I’ll be talking about my unusual background as a certified public accountant (CPA). I did not study business at all as an undergrad, and I think I dropped an economics class at one point. I have an engineering degree from MIT, which is very, very unusual. I know one other accountant who went to MIT. So it’s a unique path for someone who studied engineering like that.

Now, I specifically studied material science, engineering, and music. But what does engineering have to do with accounting? Well, there’s a lot of math. And actually, engineering math is way harder than anything we do in accounting math. In accounting, we maybe multiply by a percentage once in a while or have to do a ratio. The thing that it’s super useful for me, having that engineering background, is problem-solving. Because many times clients come to me and have an unusual situation with something with their business, with their technology, they can’t figure out how to make their books work and integrate other applications into their QuickBooks system. So the problem-solving skills that I obtained going to engineering school are beneficial for me as an accountant.

As a CPA, I can provide high-quality, helpful problem-solving skills to my clients, and they appreciate it. I know they do because they tell me they love it. It’s also benefited me in other places that I’ve worked and when I have staff working with me. I know this because they’ve told me during reviews. They said they love working with me because I can break down the process step-by-step. So, they know what to do from start to finish to get a project done. There’s a lot of really excellent skills you learn in engineering school, even if it is a difficult school to go through at the time.

My engineering background has helped me in accounting because one of my niche industries is technology startups. I enjoy working with other tech people, other people who have that engineering, science, math background. We get each other because I’m not confused by what they do. I understand their processes. I can help them get research and development tax credits because I know what they’re doing. I see the process, and I can show them how that process, those business processes, and those business tools and how what they do translates directly into tax credits.

So, it’s not the most typical route to go to engineering school and then decide to become an accountant. And it had me in school for a bit longer than the average. It made me a little bit strange compared to some of my colleagues, but really, it makes me stand out. It makes me just a different type of accountant than you usually find. And I think it makes me a better CPA as a result. So, if you have a weird background for whatever industry you’re in, figure out how it helps you and take advantage of it. And we’ll talk to you next time.