Teaching as a second career: Is it for you?

Written on Jul 19, 2017

Teaching
By Jennifer Rieman, CAE

We’ve highlighted stories online of accounting professionals who are pursuing a second career as educators. Many of you were curious: what does it take to make such a transition?

We spoke with Marc Rubin, Ph.D., chair and PwC professor, Miami University, and Andy Faber, CPA, MBA, assistant professor of accounting, Tiffin University, to get the lowdown on the steps you can take to add teaching to your resume.

You'll need teaching experience
If you’re serious about teaching, demonstrating a commitment to the craft is step one. “There’s a lot more to teaching than standing up in front of a class and telling war stories,” Rubin said.

At your firm or company, consider volunteering to lead educational workshops or seminars. Become an adjunct instructor at your local community college, or investigate opportunities to teach online. Starting with a class or two while keeping your day job is the ideal way to explore if teaching is right for you, while building a resume that will be attractive to potential employers.

Faber began his teaching career as an adjunct at Tiffin while working full-time in public accounting. “I started teaching two or three classes per year for a few years,” he said. “I started with introductory classes and then added graduate level classes as well.”

When a full-time opportunity opened at Tiffin in 2013, Faber jumped at the chance to teach year-round while maintaining a part-time schedule at his firm. “Starting with a few classes gave me the experience and helped me figure out that I liked teaching,” he said.

When weighing accounting education as a second career, there are a lot of potential opportunities.

“Some people just teach a course and some are permanent faculty,” Rubin said. “But I would say if someone wants to get into it, they should sit in on classes, work with faculty and really consider if they’re committed. It needs to be more than wanting something else to do.”

Your professional background is an asset
Both Rubin and Faber agree unequivocally that time spent in public accounting and in industry is invaluable as an accounting educator. Rubin began his career as an auditor at Arthur Young before earning his Ph.D. at the University of Texas.

“A lot of our faculty at Miami have work experience, many in public accounting,” he said. “It helps in your teaching, research and motivation – there’s a lot of value added from working.”

Faber finds that his real-life client stories enhance the classroom experience for his students. “One of the nice things about working for a firm is that we have quite a wide range of clients,” he said. “Chances are good when I’m teaching a class, I’ve had a client just like the scenarios in the textbook.”

But you'll probably need a master's degree
Both Miami University and Tiffin University require a minimum of a master’s degree to teach, even as an adjunct. While this requirement is easily met by many CPAs, it’s something to consider if you lack a Master’s of Accounting or an MBA. A Ph.D. might be required for graduate-level courses, although at Tiffin holding an active CPA license qualifies Faber to teach at that level.

You'll need to genuinely enjoy young people
Not everyone can relate to college students, so it should go without saying that a genuine interest and desire to work with students is a prerequisite to a job as an accounting educator.

“You have to be prepared and have the ability to think on your feet,” Rubin said. “The students today are Gen Z and were brought up by Gen X’ers. This generation is not going to accept something because you tell them; they want to know why.”

Understand that the job doesn’t end after class is over either.

“You have to be able to engage students,” Faber said. “Being in the classroom is just one part of the job. I have to advise and meet with students, attend events and be a part of college life.”

You’re likely to find the job incredibly rewarding
While there are many challenging aspects of the job, teaching the profession you love to the next generation of accounting and business professionals has many highlights.

“Being around college students keeps my energy going,” Faber said. “I get to be someone that helps others learn, and I love the flexibility that the job offers.”

Rubin relishes seeing his student’s success after graduation.

“Many of my students have gone on to academic careers—what bigger compliment is there than someone wanting to do what you do?” he said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else."

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