Quality of Life as a CPA Vs. Attorney

Being a CPA or an attorney can make you lots of money and bring you lots of job satisfaction. But these jobs can also bring on the stress. Quality of life -- particularly work/life balance -- is a major concern for CPAs and attorneys. This is especially true for professional women who also want to start and maintain a family life.

CPAs: The Good

Being a certified public accountant means always having a chance to educate your clients about their financial options and helping them achieve their goals. Many CPAs work for prestigious firms or government agencies, but many others run their own business, which offers a high level of personal satisfaction and flexibility. CPAs rarely suffer from economic downturns and are usually in demand in all sectors, from government to universities to private corporations. The money is also good. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics set the median annual salary of accountants and actuaries at $61,690 in 2010.

CPAs: The Bad

CPA is a high-stress career. The pressure to manage big budgets often mixes with pressures from clients to reduce fees and hours, which can themselves be long. Tax season is especially stressful, as all clients need all work done by a federal deadline. Quality of life suffers more among CPAs who work for larger firms. Those working for mega-firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers report much worse quality of life than CPAs who work for smaller companies or run their own business.

Attorneys: The Good

With a career that offers so much breadth as the law, attorneys often speak of how much they love the intellectual challenges their profession offers, plus a feeling of doing right by society. Even attorneys who specialize in a narrow field of law rarely have the same day twice. Great pay also lures top minds to the legal profession. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics set the median annual salary of lawyers at $112,760 in 2010.

Attorneys: The Bad

Attorneys have one of the highest-stress jobs in the country. Exceedingly long hours, extended time away from home, and the stigma of working a job many people openly despise tarnish an attorney's quality of life. Lawyers who work for companies often shoulder blame for tangling innovations and new products in legal red tape, and attorneys who defend criminal suspects often hear how dangerous they are to society. The toll this takes is revealed in one sobering statistic -- nearly a third of all law degree holders do not practice law 10 years after school.

 

Photo Credits

  • Szepy/iStock/Getty Images