8 answers

When thinking about Accounting, would it be better to begin as a public accountant?

Asked Roscoe, Texas

8 answers

Rachel’s Answer


Many people start in public accounting and then work in industry. Starting in any of the Big 4 (PwC, EY, Deloitte, KPMG) or at one of the larger mid-tier (RSM, Grant Thorton, etc.) is great for you resume would be worthwhile and is pretty normal.

If you start in one of the Big 4 or at one of the respected and well-known mid-tier firms then you'd receive top-notch training and you'd get a lot of experience that would be useful. Also, you'd benefit from the firm's reputation, and their brand would become part of yours. It's because of these reasons that companies seek out people with public accounting experience.

Public accounting can be a lot of work, but for many it's well worth it! I know I've enjoyed it!

Alexandra’s Answer

Updated Boston, Massachusetts

Hi Ty F.,

There are many career options for an accountant, but starting in public accounting is a great option for four reasons. First, you will get exposed to different industries/clients/assignments. It will help you figure out which particular field you like best. Second, the training provided in public accounting can help you learn and grow from a practical perspective as a professional but also as a person. Third, you will work with many smart, motivated and dedicated people. Fourth, when you put experience in public accounting on your resume, many other employers will become interested in you.

I wish you the best in your career and hope you will consider public accounting.

Jonathan’s Answer

Many companies and organizations will evaluate your potential through your education, experiences, and work history. If you have an accounting degree, public accounting is a great opportunity to get exposure and build a great foundation. Many individuals start off in public accounting and ultimately end up working in industry. Joining public accounting can:

1) Allow you to see how multiple companies run their process and do their accounting. Many public accounting jobs have their staff work multiple engagements.

2) Learn best practices and set a great foundation on correct accounting processes and things to look out for.

3) Meet a lot of great individuals and build your network.

This will allow you to learn faster and build assets for your career.

For me personally, I started off in a smaller CPA firm doing Audit, Tax, Consulting, and Bookkeeping. Although it didn't carry the big name of the big 4, it really helped me build a strong foundation and give me exposure to a lot of areas that I wouldn't have typically have gotten else where. Using that experience helped me grow at a tech start up that was 120 employees when I joined and who is at 1,800 employees now.

Priscilla’s Answer


I agree with Rachel. Public Accounting will give you the opportunity to see how a variety of companies operate and give you exposure to different industries. Although it can be intense at times, you would gain a lot of experience in a short amount of time. I definitely recommend it!

Donald’s Answer


Speaking from personal experience, public accounting is definitely a great place to start out of college. I started my tax accounting career at PwC and thought it was an amazing experience overall. Looking back, public accounting is much like an extension of school (but getting paid). You will be exposed of many different issues and challenges which will offer an incredible learning experience that will reflect tremendously on your resume. You will also work with a lot of different people, of whom, you will forge deep personal and professional relationships. These relationships will carry you through your career. Although I eventually decided to go the private route, I realize I could not be where I am without the experiences and relationships I've made during my beginnings at public accounting.

Donald recommends the following next steps:

  • If you are currently in college, career fairs are a great place to talk to public accounting teams to get some more insight. Look for those internships!

Fiona’s Answer

Updated Quincy, Massachusetts

Public accountancy is definitely a great way to get a great foundational experience. You can see a wide variety of issues and public accounting firms usually offer some of the best trainings to help their employees stay up to date on industry developments. That being said, it's certainly not the only way to start an accounting career. If you find an accounting position in a company where the accounting department is relatively small, you'll get a similar exposure to a wide ranging issues. The key is to do research on the company you are applying. The people you'll be working for, regardless of what company they are at, will make a big difference in how much you will learn and your professional fulfillment .

angel’s Answer

Updated Hayward, California

To start your career as a public accountant is definitely a great way to get your foot in the door, especially if you get opportunities to work in big four CPA firms. However, not anyone get that opportunity to work for big four. If you find yourself in that situation, do not get discouraged. I started my career in the accounting department of a small start up firm, working hard, never stop learning. Now, 10 years later, I am able to be in executive position of a publicly traded firm, managing close to 100 people. There are many ways to get to mountain top. Do not stop climbing.

Mikayla’s Answer

Updated Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Hi Ty,

Beginning in public accounting is definitely a resume boost, but it's also typically harder work and longer hours than private accounting. I would say this answer really depends on what your priority is for a job - better work/life balance or better opportunities and greater pay. Typically you'll get the former in private and the latter in public.