Public accounting careers overview
Public accounting firms consists of accountants that serve businesses, individuals, governments and non-profits by preparing their financial statements, tax returns and advising them on transactions. The main corporate finance career paths at public accounting firms include jobs in:
The main services provided by public accounting firms are the preparation, review, and auditing of financial statements, tax work, and consulting and advice on accounting systems, M&A, and capital raising.
People who work in public accounting job are typically CPAs and progress through the roles of staff, senior, manager and partner. Firms vary in size from tens of thousands of employees to only a few.
University accounting graduates that intend to go the public accounting route will typically join a CPA recruiting round in their junior or senior year of school. The CPA Recruit proper normally occurs at the beginning of the school year, with students meeting potential accounting firms and networking with professionals. However, students typically begin networking with firms and getting a head start in the summer. Firms will interview students for positions they are trying to fill, and will often help students achieve the necessary experience requirements for attaining a CPA designation.
While accounting may not typically be thought of as a corporate finance career path, it does offer some transaction related jobs (at larger firms) and can lead to a transition over to a corporate or a bank later in your career. There is also the benefit of achieving a higher-level understanding of how accounting transactions work. This understanding of IFRS standards typically translates well into financial analysis and modeling when performing a corporate finance job function.
Explore each of our buy-side career profiles to discover which path is right for you.