Mom Begins Studying for the USCPA Exam: Balancing Study and Parenting


I began studying for the USCPA exam after giving birth. Today, I’d like to share my reasons for deciding to study for the USCPA exam, as well as my experiences balancing studying with parenting.


Reasons for Starting USCPA Studies

In short, I wanted to enhance my market value. The USCPA is a certified public accountant qualification recognized not only in the United States but also globally. In Japan, it’s often considered advantageous for career transitions, such as to audit firms, tax accountant firms, or corporate accounting positions.

I didn’t hold any prominent qualifications before, and I was content with my job without intending to switch. However, amidst the global shift towards meritocracy, I sensed a vague crisis remaining stagnant in a Japanese corporate structure based on seniority. Furthermore, after experiencing childbirth and childcare, I began considering various risks such as potential illness in my family or myself that could hinder my work.

At that time, a senior colleague mentioned the USCPA in a conversation. Though I couldn’t fully follow the discussion, upon researching, I realized it was the qualification I had been seeking. What fascinated me about the USCPA was…

  • Its global recognition in the business world, not only in the US but also in Japan and worldwide.
  • The acquisition of versatile business skills applicable to various job roles and locations, although some USCPA subjects require technical knowledge, such as Tax.
  • Proof of proficiency in English and accounting, making foreign companies’ financial statements comprehensible.
  • Its differentiation potential both externally (job market) and internally (promotion/evaluation).

Despite being content with my current situation, I felt a sense of insecurity about the future, making me consider it a chance to enhance my market value. Thus, I decided to start studying for the USCPA.

Self-Study or Prep School?

While self-study is possible for the USCPA, it would likely take a considerable amount of time. For those aiming for the shortest path to qualification, I recommend enrolling in a prep school. Prep schools provide original textbooks, practice materials, and essential insights tailored for exam success.

If one is proficient in English and comfortable with studying without Japanese explanations, they can save costs by purchasing English books available on platforms like Amazon.

Among several prep schools, I recommend either Abitus or TAC, as many USCPA candidates attend these schools, indicating their reputable track record. However, prep school costs are quite high, roughly around 500,000 yen upfront. (This cost, coupled with babysitting expenses, can amount to a significant sum…)

I pursued online learning through Abitus, which was beneficial as a busy parent. The texts and explanatory videos were in Japanese, and I could ask questions about unclear points on the online platform (though responses sometimes took a while).

Balancing Study and Parenting

Balancing study with childcare was quite challenging, and upon reflection, I realized I didn’t manage it well. In hindsight, I believe the more support one has, the better they can navigate through such situations.

Struggles I Faced: Finding Study Time

There were days when I could only study for 1 to 4 hours, or even just 30 minutes, depending on the day. It was quite challenging to find these study slots. Being a mom, spare time was almost nonexistent anyway (laughs).

I wanted to put my kids to bed early, so the time to play with them was reduced. I heard the question, “Is Mom studying again today?” for about six months. I was also asked, “Why do you have to study?”

As a result, I often studied from around 4 a.m. when the kids were still asleep, managing about 2 to 3 hours. Additionally, I had to be flexible, studying during commute times or when the kids woke up crying in the middle of the night. Having a smartphone enabled me to study almost anywhere, which was incredibly helpful.

During the week leading up to the exam, I wanted to study adequately. So, I entrusted my husband with the kids or hired a babysitter to secure study time.

In hindsight, not only during the exam week but also on days off, I should have entrusted the kids to a sitter to ensure study time and better balance playtime with them.

It’s undeniable that lending a helping hand from others is necessary to carve out study time.

Struggles I Faced: Family and Personal Health Management

Two weeks before the exam, when my child contracted the flu, it was incredibly tough. I couldn’t study, and there was a risk of me getting infected too. Eventually, I also caught the flu and took the exam without sufficient preparation.

Family members falling ill on the exam day is also a possibility, which is unpredictable. Therefore, it’s best to seek support from others, even if everything seems fine on the day.

Since I didn’t have reliable relatives nearby, I arranged for a sick child care sitter on the exam day, considering the possibility of my kids not being able to go to school or daycare. It cost money, but it was necessary.

Preparing for the exam day, rather than worrying about studying, was quite challenging.

Why I Recommend USCPA for Working Moms and Expat Spouses

The USCPA qualification isn’t something you can easily obtain. Firstly, the procedures to qualify for the exam take several months, and the actual exam consists of four sections, each lasting four hours, making it quite a lengthy ordeal. (I was surprised to learn about the four-hour duration per section after enrolling in a prep school.)

The difficulty of obtaining the qualification varies depending on the candidate’s background. It can be advantageous for those who excel in English or have a strong accounting knowledge.

Despite its challenges, I believe the USCPA qualification is well-suited for working moms and expat spouses. I’ve outlined the benefits as I see them.

Benefits for working mom

  • You can study in your preferred location and at your preferred time.
  • You can set your own exam dates since the exam dates are not fixed.
  • Some companies cover the cost of qualification or offer incentives.
  • It prepares you for future events such as relocation, job changes, or international assignments.

Benefits for expat spouses

  • You inevitably improve your English skills due to exposure, especially in reading.
  • The exam is available in 19 countries (including India).
  • It broadens the scope for local employment opportunities.
  • It can be beneficial for career development upon repatriation (re-employment, job change, or entrepreneurship).

Since it requires both money and time, making a decision to start isn’t as easy as saying “yes.” However, there are benefits as mentioned above. If you’re unsure about taking the exam, considering whether you can create a conducive environment for long-term studying might provide reassurance.


Today, I reflected on the reasons for starting my USCPA studies and shared the challenges I faced in studying.

I plan to write another article about what was helpful during my USCPA studies.

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