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Hi all, I see a lot of financially savvy users in this forum who have dedicated a lot of hard work to becoming financially independent.

One of the main attributes for achieving this is based off of salary and career progression. I am having a hard time visualizing the future and wondering when my hard work will pay off as I feel like I am underachieving vs my immediate peers. So what I really want to know, is how did you do it? How did you overcome that slump and kickstart your earnings from your respective jobs? What was your progression?

Background; I am 28 yrs old working towards cpa, earning about 60k per year.
worked in retail and small business banking doing loans/mortgages for 2 yrs before essentially starting over in my mid 20s to pursue the CPA.

One other note - how do you find mentorship these days?? While self learning is useful, it is limited and almost becomes irrelevant if you are not actively using those skills.
 

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I did it the hard way investing in rental real estate. I still believe in real estate as an investment but see now I was playing on hard mode. I recommend you go to work for the government, either federal or provincial, and stick to it until you retire with a generous pension. That is what my brother did and he is the laziest, greediest person I know. He wound up better off than me with a lot less work and worry. I am not joking.
As far as mentorship goes I have been talking about real estate and investing for 50 years and in all that time I think maybe 2 people have been willing to listen. Eventually I learned to keep my trap shut and not be a bore and a nuisance. I will tell you a secret. People like to talk about themselves and their interests. Golfers talk about golf, fishermen talk about fishing, investors talk about investing. If you know someone who is a good investor call them up and ask a few questions. You have to be half way sensible and 9 times out of 10 the person will open up, after they get over the shock of someone being interested in learning.
Good luck.
 

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I did it the hard way investing in rental real estate. I still believe in real estate as an investment but see now I was playing on hard mode. I recommend you go to work for the government, either federal or provincial, and stick to it until you retire with a generous pension. That is what my brother did and he is the laziest, greediest person I know. He wound up better off than me with a lot less work and worry. I am not joking.
As far as mentorship goes I have been talking about real estate and investing for 50 years and in all that time I think maybe 2 people have been willing to listen. Eventually I learned to keep my trap shut and not be a bore and a nuisance. I will tell you a secret. People like to talk about themselves and their interests. Golfers talk about golf, fishermen talk about fishing, investors talk about investing. If you know someone who is a good investor call them up and ask a few questions. You have to be half way sensible and 9 times out of 10 the person will open up, after they get over the shock of someone being interested in learning.
Good luck.
Thanks for the response rusty!

I am trying to find a niche to do, right now its hard for anyone my age to get ahead, markets tanking, RE increasing and wages stagnant.

As for listening and talking, those are great points, I definitely try to keep an open mind when listening, but that is the issue you have identified - people share things with those who arent interested and then those who are get shafted.
 

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Background; I am 28 yrs old working towards cpa, earning about 60k per year.
worked in retail and small business banking doing loans/mortgages for 2 yrs before essentially starting over in my mid 20s to pursue the CPA.
That doesn't sound bad for someone who's recently reoriented into something else.

Keep in mind that most people with nice careers and income get there in their late 30s, 40s and 50s. Enjoy the perks of being young and don't worry too much, you seem to be on the right path.
 

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In general a CPA designation will lead to a nice trajectory after a few years, though it can vary quite a bit depending on your career path. Are you doing your CPA with a firm or in industry? If with a firm, is it a Big 4, mid-sized, or small firm? Will you have a specialty? What province / city do you work in? All of these will play a big role in what you can expect for career and income trajectory.
 

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That doesn't sound bad for someone who's recently reoriented into something else.

Keep in mind that most people with nice careers and income get there in their late 30s, 40s and 50s.
Yup, get your CPA then keep an eye on your path and whether the company you're with allows you to grow.
At 28 you've got a ways to go, just be smart and sensible about your finances and career.
 

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I keep a small spreadsheet to see how things are going over the years. Here's a screen grab from it, with annotations for major career events.

Things start off slow, then accelerate as years go on, as offby10 suggests. You're in a good field, with really good opportunities for growth and advancement, including transition among industries. I have a relative who started with a big firm, and has transitioned to the same industry i'm now in.

 

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I have a chart similar to Raggedy Dandy (attached). I like to keep track of these things.

I would echo what others have said. You're still in your 20's and you just changed careers; you have plenty of time to move your income trajectory upwards.

My own path:
  • After I graduated university I started at a great tech company. I worked A TON of extra time and took on as many responsibilities as I could - I didn't suck up to anyone, I just learned as much as I could, I built expertise in my field and I stood out amongst my peers for the quality of my work and my work ethic. I was promoted twice in my first two years, including to manager after my second year, and received big salary bumps each year.
  • I left the tech company after 9 years to do some consulting for the government. Three years later they offered me an employment position. I took a pay cut of about 20K for the stability.
  • I've been employed with the provincial health authority for almost 9 years now. It's a great job and organization. Unfortunately, wages have been frozen since 2014 by successive governments.
**Don't believe those who say government employees are overpaid. The pension is great though (but it is diminished by the inevitable pay freeze when a new government is elected).

The blue line is nominal gross income and red line is "real" (inflation adjusted) gross income:
20097
 

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I believe the basics are about the same assuming that you have acquired some sort of marketable skill, trade, education, etc.

Work hard. Work smart. Be honest. Always try and make sure that you have a boss, a manager etc. who you can learn from. If you are not learning anything, time to reconsider your position.

Don't be afraid to take on new challenges. Don't follow the herd or often the freely given advice of your peers in the firm. They may not have your interests a heart.

If you are not happy, change jobs, occupations, whatever even if it means leaving he workforce to gain knowledge or education. You will be working a long time. Much easier to be successful at an occupation you like or love vs a job that you hate.

Always keep you eye out for opportunities inside and outside your employer. Keep an eye on trends in the industry. Especially if the industry you are in is moving to the mature stage. Sometimes starting salary is not the determinant of ongoing salary prospects.

Look for pay for performance opportunities such as bonuses for financial performance, sales incentives/commissions, stock purchase plans, stock options, etc.

Be a life long learner. Take advantage of employer paid education benefits. Give something back to your community.

Never rule out a relocation. Travel and relo will broaden your horizons.

Suddenly you reach 55, it has all come together and you are amazed. How did it happen???
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I believe the basics are about the same assuming that you have acquired some sort of marketable skill, trade, education, etc.

Work hard. Work smart. Be honest. Always try and make sure that you have a boss, a manager etc. who you can learn from. If you are not learning anything, time to reconsider your position.

Don't be afraid to take on new challenges. Don't follow the herd or often the freely given advice of your peers in the firm. They may not have your interests a heart.

If you are not happy, change jobs, occupations, whatever even if it means leaving he workforce to gain knowledge or education. You will be working a long time. Much easier to be successful at an occupation you like or love vs a job that you hate.

Always keep you eye out for opportunities inside and outside your employer. Keep an eye on trends in the industry. Especially if the industry you are in is moving to the mature stage. Sometimes starting salary is not the determinant of ongoing salary prospects.

Look for pay for performance opportunities such as bonuses for financial performance, sales incentives/commissions, stock purchase plans, stock options, etc.

Be a life long learner. Take advantage of employer paid education benefits. Give something back to your community.

Never rule out a relocation. Travel and relo will broaden your horizons.

Suddenly you reach 55, it has all come together and you are amazed. How did it happen???
This is some warming advice. I have made it a goal to trying to talk to successful people within parent's friends group or even anyone my parent's neighbours know who are succesful to get their tips and what helped make them succesful.

I appreciate the thoughtful response ian, thank you!
 

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In general a CPA designation will lead to a nice trajectory after a few years, though it can vary quite a bit depending on your career path. Are you doing your CPA with a firm or in industry? If with a firm, is it a Big 4, mid-sized, or small firm? Will you have a specialty? What province / city do you work in? All of these will play a big role in what you can expect for career and income trajectory.
i started off in a smaller firm in the GTA - before Covid i was speaking regularly with recruiters to move into a mid-sized/mid tier firm. I have contacts at big 4 who i have also reached out to, covid has stoppered a lot of hiring. Hopefully can see some activity in the next few months.

In terms of speciality, i am thinking the audit route as more exit opportunities do exist, however, if I choose to do tax there definitely is an opportunity to progress into my own firm. the problem is finding the right mentorship in tax to make it meaningful.
 
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