Private or Public? How to Choose Your Accounting Career Path

Working as a private accountant, you may work as a freelancer, with your office in your home. If you do freelance, you’ll be able to pick and choose the clients you wish to work for. Private accounting jobs work well for individuals who desire a “home base” and who can communicate well with coworkers. Private accountants must also have the desire to specialize in a particular industry. Private accountants must also have strong leadership abilities and be able to hire and fire others. If a public accountant owns their own business, these would be equally valuable characteristics.

  1. Helping to balance the strong demand for labor is a growing supply of available workers.
  2. Some accountants will appreciate this atmosphere, while others may look for faster-paced environments.
  3. If you have a passion for business, consider merging your interests by pursuing a career in private or corporate accounting.
  4. Public accountants must also become CPAs and obtain their certified public accountant license.
  5. Public accountants usually select a specialty, such as tax accounting, auditing, forensic accounting, or consulting, which has its own set of responsibilities.

Now that you have a clear overview of public and private accounting, look at the characteristics that set the two professionals apart. By undergoing this review process, private accounting practices gain credibility and provide stakeholders with an added level of assurance regarding public vs private accounting the accuracy and reliability of the financial information presented. The primary objective of a public accountant is to validate financial documents, reports, and disclosures from an external standpoint. Public accounting requires an accountant to act as an impartial intermediary.

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External and Internal Accounting

They may also have more opportunities for diversity in their work, including meeting new people and the chance to work in a variety of industries. For instance, you might focus on an industry of particular interest, such as fashion or shopping. Job satisfaction tends to be higher in private accounting because professionals create business transactions and report effectiveness. Because of the difficulty that can sometimes arise from criticizing and evaluating other accountants’ work, the public accounting field isn’t for everyone. A public accountant must feel comfortable interviewing clients and addressing system failures tactfully.

Key Differences: Public vs Private Accounting

Private accounting is concerned with the inner workings of businesses, governments, and agencies. In this role, you may or may not be a certified private accountant – not all private accounting jobs require certification, but it is often preferred. Private accountants work for specific companies and are an essential part of the success of any organization. For this reason, many public accountants eventually work in the private sector. Public accountants work for public accounting firms and work with multiple clients from a wide range of industries.

Getting your bachelor’s degree in accounting is more accessible than ever before. In Accounting that will help you gain the industry-ready skills to work in the public or private accounting environment. In addition to building your accounting capabilities, Franklin gives you a jump-start on pursuing a professional certification, saving you both time and money.

Public accountants have the potential to move into higher positions, such as financial managers. As of May 2021, financial managers had an estimated pay range between $77,040 and $208,000. The projected job outlook for accountants in the next decade is expected to grow 6% between 2021 and 2031, which translates to roughly 136,400 openings each year.

They may become accounting managers, cost accountants, auditors or tax managers for a company, for example. As leaders in their industry, private accountants use their diverse knowledge and business communication skills to enhance, sustain and maintain a business’s financial ecosystem. Similarly, private accountants normally start their careers in entry-level staff accountant positions and typically move up into managerial roles over the years.

Similarities of private and public accounting.

After several years, you’re likely to advance to a role as a senior accountant before moving up to a managerial position. In terms of education, you should earn your bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or business to work in either public or private accounting. For CPA jobs, you need to pass one of the most rigorous professional credential examinations in the business. If you work in public accounting, you will interact with a variety of clients and will generally be a licensed, certified public accountant (CPA). Some accountants will appreciate this atmosphere, while others may look for faster-paced environments. These are some of the pros and cons to consider if you want to pursue private accounting.

If you’d like to specialize in working in a particular industry, private accounting would give you the best opportunity to do so. For public accountants, the goal is to get in as many billable hours as you can. Because of this, they typically work more than the customary 40 hours per week. Public accountants also work with a wide variety of clients handling many different tasks.

Education and Certifications

The divergence between public and private accounting becomes evident in the skills developed by fresh graduates who embark on each career path. Public accountants may start their careers as entry-level accountants and progress through senior positions, eventually reaching senior management roles such as an audit partner within the firm. In private accounting, a company hires an accountant internally to serve as a managerial role, and the work of this accountant is to prepare and analyze the company’s financial statements. You’ll want to know the difference between public and private accounting to get on the right track. The type of work you want to do, your personality traits and your career goals can help you decide which path is right for you. Private accountants work with internal business or financial managers to plan their company’s cost of doing business and to evaluate fiscal performance.

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The most substantive criteria in determining public vs. private accounting has to do with who is ultimately served by the work being performed by the accountant. If the work is being performed strictly for the benefit of a specific company, it is safe to conclude that this is a function of private accounting. If the work being performed is done to satisfy regulatory requirements for transparency, then this can be said to be public accounting. Look at the job descriptions coming from companies advertising for accountants. What is accounting and how is GAAP utilized for private vs. public accounting? Some may specialize in public accounting and thus consult with government agencies.

“If you want to dig in, learn one industry and go to the same desk every day, a private accounting career path will be what makes you happy,” Downs says. Public accounting requires certification as a CPA, while private accounting does not require certification. However, several programs are available to increase job opportunities by becoming a certified private accountant.

Learn important skills like management, operations, financial planning and financial analysis. Accounting professionals have many significant career options, making it one of the most practical applications of a business degree. Powell cautioned, however, that a rate cut at the next Fed meeting in March is unlikely.