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What does a day in the life of an accountant look like?

I'm asking because I've decided to go to college as an accounting major next year and I'm wondering what I should be expecting. I'd also like to hear from more than one area of accounting so I can plan accordingly to something that might be interesting to me. #accounting

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Courtney’s Answer

Hi Elizabeth!

Going off of Samantha's answer, I also work for PwC in Seattle. I wanted to give my perspective because sometimes a typical "day in the life" of a Senior Associate may differ slightly from an Associate or Experienced Associate. Like Samantha said, your average day can really change depending on the time of year. I typically think of my year split up into three main components: year-end, planning/walkthroughs and quarters.

During year-end (aka "busy season"), as an associate you're pretty involved in the detail testing (for example, testing Accounts Receivable, Cash, etc.). This involves making sample selections, looking at the necessary documentation, and evaluating whether amounts are fairly stated based on the results. As you become more experienced, a portion of your work will involve not only testing the details but looking at the team's testing approach as a whole to see if we are adequately testing the balance.

Something I've learned is that the audit doesn't truly end after busy season. An audit is a year long process that involves planning, walkthroughs, and the eventual year-end closing. The planning stage is just how it sounds-planning the audit to ensure we cover all the risks with our testing, getting updated on any changes in the business, etc. We also perform walkthrough procedures at this time. During the walkthrough phase, as an associate you will typically be involved in meetings with management to gain an overall understanding of each process. Afterwards, we will document the entire process, make flowcharts, map relevant controls, etc. This is a really good time to get a "big picture" understanding of how certain parts of the business work!

Quarterly procedures mostly involve client inquiries about any significant changes to the business as well as some testing (analytics, testing statement of cash flows, etc.) I'm working on a quarter right now and my typical tasks include going to inquiry meetings with management and managing the quarterly balance sheet and income statement analytics to determine/explain any unusual fluctuations.

Hope this is helpful and good luck!

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Samantha’s Answer

Hi Elizabeth! This was my biggest question when I chose to be an Accounting major! Since graduating, I now work for a company called PwC as an auditor for large public companies. Depending on the time of year, I am always doing something different, which I love - I'm never bored and I constantly face new challenges which help me to grow my skills.

At a high level, my job involves working with client contacts and my audit team to test a sample of transactions within a company to make sure they were performed appropriately. This includes researching accounting guidance to make sure the company is following accounting rules, and researching audit approach to make sure we are auditing the company correctly. Auditors work with Excel a lot to document the work we do. I also help with project management - making sure that my audit team has the appropriate resources (staff) at the appropriate time, and monitoring our progress so we finish our work before the deadline.

I hope this helps - best of luck to you!

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Ekaterina "Katya"’s Answer

I've been in public accounting for over almost 8 years and every year is very different depending on the projects that you work on. As associate or experienced associate you might not really like doing the actual work which will involve a ton of documenting in Excel spreadsheets, testing the controls, and be the doer. However, as you grow in the Firm you will get more and more opportunities to do various projects and if you have curious mind, hard working ethic and lovable personality you will develop great relationships which will lead to millions of opportunities and your day could look so much different from your peer! So it could be boring or exciting but it always gets more interesting as you stay longer in public accounting and explore.