Playing the Numbers Game

Accounting graduate Brian Luo adds CPA to his credentials

Accounting grad Brian Luo
Accounting grad Brian Luo added CPA to his résumé

2010: Brian Luo earned his B.S. in economics and mathematics from UC San Diego.

Two years later, he found himself sitting in a UC Berkeley Extension accounting course at night while working full time as a staff accountant at a local nonprofit.

“Given my background, accounting looked like the best and quickest thing I could transition into,” Luo recalls. “To me, it was the most appropriate choice, and I wouldn't have had to retool myself extensively.”

In order to career-switch into a full-time accounting position, Luo knew he needed to add CPA to his résumé. While much of his undergraduate coursework met some of the exam requirements, Luo says that the Extension courses prepared him to sit for the exam. In contrast to his undergraduate economics classes, where “taxation was usually downplayed in comparison to corporate accounting or auditing,” the individual and corporate tax preparation courses at Extension “relate directly to what actually happens on a tax return, as well as tax planning.

“The classes cover a variety of concepts and they helped me to understand the language that you use in taxation,” Luo continues. “They helped me to recognize certain things like what would be considered income and what wouldn’t; the expenses that you can deduct; how to reconcile book-tax differences.”

After finishing the accounting certificate, Luo met the requirements for CPA licensure. Today, he’s working as a tax preparer at Spott, Lucey & Wall and is concurrently working toward his Master of Science in Taxation at Golden Gate University.