Although the field of accounting may not have the coolest reputation, today's accounting firms are overcoming old stigmas and becoming known as great places to work. If you're interested in technology and accounting, taking a job at one of the top CPA firms gives you the opportunity to travel, learn about a variety of industries and work with some of the best and brightest individuals in the business. Public accounting firms are also known for their heavy investments in cutting edge technology, which streamlines financial statement preparation, as well as audit and tax processes for clients.
The Big Four
If you are looking to work in public accounting and eventually pass the CPA exam, then a position at a Big Four firm is one of the best places to launch your career. The four firms — Deloitte
, EY (formerly Ernst & Young)
, and KPMG
— each have their own unique personality and reputation. These mega firms have offices throughout the country, as well as international locations. If you like to travel or are open to relocation, working for one of the Big Four offers the most flexibility in that area.
Big Four training programs, both on the job and in a classroom setting, are unmatched in the industry. At each of these firms, you are guaranteed to work side by side with some of the top accounting experts in the field. Although a career at the Big Four pays well, staff accountants work a lot of overtime hours and often spend their first few years engaging in routine audit procedures. But working your way up to a senior level or management position will guarantee you a variety of jobs, should you choose to transfer from public to private accounting.
Smaller CPA Firms
Award-winning small firms are also great places to begin an accounting career. Grant Thornton
, headquartered in Chicago with offices nationwide, has received numerous awards, including a rating as one of the best companies for working mothers in 2013. Plante Moran of Detroit has been included on Forbes' 100 Top Employers list across all industries for the last 15 consecutive years. Although the Big Four firms are known as great places to work, smaller CPA firms also have their advantages. Working in a smaller setting gives new accountants the opportunity to take on added responsibilities and hit the ground running in their new positions. Greater access to partners and client executives is also a benefit of working for a smaller firm.
One of the greatest aspects of an accounting degree is that it helps get you in the door of just about any company. If the accounting firms mentioned above don't meet your definition of hipness, remember every company has an accounting department, from Google to Microsoft to Gap. Accounting is a great place to begin a business career because it provides a solid understanding of the financial aspects of business. After you gain work experience in a company's accounting department, you can broaden your experience by transferring into related areas, such as finance or treasury. Ultimately, accounting will even give you the business knowledge to start your own company one day and create your own "hip" place to work.
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