For those people who list math as their favorite subject, love numbers, and enjoy problem solving, a career as an accountant may be the perfect choice.
As a career that is always in demand (check out this article I wrote about the accounting job outlook for the next 10 years), accountants can find employment in a variety of places including major corporations, accounting firms, health care, and even law enforcement. However, most accountants find one of the 3 main types of accounting jobs.
Quick Summary of the 3 Main Types of Accounting Jobs
- Some go on to jobs with one of the “Big Four” accounting firms, which are PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), KPMG, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young (EY). These firms have offices in many parts of the United States, and employ thousands of accountants.
- Others go to work for smaller, local accounting firms as CPA’s, where they work with local clients.
- Others who are looking for an entry-level position in accounting may take a job in the accounting department of a company, where they would be responsible for accounts payables and receivables, taxes, and more.
1. The Big Four
Accountants who go to work for one of the Big Four firms are considered to have reached the pinnacle of their profession. While many choose to remain with these firms for many years, others use it as a springboard to become start their own accounting firm or move on to positions in government or financial management.
Big Four jobs are very competitive and sought-after, but do come with high expectations and much pressure associated with them. (See more info on accounting job descriptions here) Many of the jobs in these firms involve working with large corporations performing complex auditing and tax evaluations, requiring long hours and a keen sense of responsibility and detail.
Salaries at these firms are quite high, with entry-level salaries starting around $70,000 annually. After five years of experience, management opportunities are possible with salaries approaching $100,000 per year. Those who become partners in these firms can find themselves earning well over $1 million per year, which makes the pressure and long hours well worth the effort required.
2. Small to Medium Size Local Accounting Firms, CPA Offices, and Tax Firms
Because positions at the Big Four firms are highly competitive, many accountants choose to work instead for smaller, local accounting firms. These jobs are plentiful, can be found practically anywhere in the country, and have less competition for positions. (In fact, this is one of JobUnlocker Premium’s most requested industries)
Most of the work involved in these jobs deals with handling audits, taxes, and financial management for corporations and local businesses big and small. Salaries are quite good in these firms as well, averaging over $50,000 per year, with higher pay-grades for those who have just obtained their CPA designation or are working for CPA firms.
While there is usually less pressure in these jobs, there are also fewer advancement opportunities. Sometimes a promotion to Partner is possible, but there are not many Partner openings until putting in many years at the firm. For those who want a stable job and an opportunity to gain some experience (to add to your resume) with steady work and less pressure, working for one of these firms is a perfect choice.
3. The Accounting Department of a Company
Besides working for a Big Four firm or local accounting office, many people choose to take positions within the accounting department of a company. Jobs in this area range from bookkeepers and accounting clerks to managerial accountants and CPA’s, depending upon a person’s level of education.
Many high school and college graduates start in these entry-level positions such to gain experience while they pursue additional education or a position with more responsibility. People in these types of accounting jobs are responsible for calculating company payroll, filing the proper taxes for the company, keeping the company finances accounted for and entered into systems, and more.
Also see video: How to Get an Accounting Job
These jobs are often numerous and less competitive, but can also be low-paying depending upon the employer. Many jobs may start out at only $30,000 per year, and others are part-time and pay even less.
For anyone wanting to advance within the accounting field, they usually keep these jobs for only as long as it takes to find one that’s better-paying with benefits and promotional opportunities, or until they can move up within the organization. Learn more about accounting salary trends in this article I wrote.
There are advancement opportunities to move up within these companies to heads of accounting departments and mangers of accounting that participate in decision making with company executives of other departments. If you are able to move up, your salary will not stay low for long.
Whatever area of accounting a person chooses to pursue, there are numerous jobs available to help gain practical experience while honing one’s skills. From small towns to large cities, opportunities are always available for an accountant with education, that’s good with figures, and has a good business head on their shoulders.
When people find an accountant they can trust and rely upon, they tend to stick with them for many years. By developing valuable relationships, an accountant can guarantee themselves a great career and residual income coming back every year.
…but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. – Benjamin Franklin