What is public accounting?

Public accounting is the auditing of financial statements. In order to be considered a public accountant one has to obtain the designation of certified public accountant. 

Only certified public accountants can sign-off on financial statements. 

Public accountants are not typically only auditors though. They can have many roles. 

They can be auditors, tax professionals and even consultants. 

What do public accountants do?

Public accountants are well known for auditing the financial statements of the largest companies in the world. THere designation as Certified Public Accountants allows them to do this. 

Check out our PwC Clients, EY Clients, Deloitte Clients and KPMG Clients web pages to review the clients that the largest public accounting firms audit. 

Working Conditions of a Public Accountant

Public accountants are well known for having to work long hours. Public accountants can be expected to work well in excess of 50 hours a week during busy season.

When is Busy Season for a Public Accountant?

The busy season for a public accountant varies depending on which line of service you choose. 

If you choose audit then your busy season is most likely from january until March. This is because most companies close their books on December 31st every year. Therefore you audit their financial statements after they prepare them. 

It normally takes them a couple weeks after they close their books to prepare their financial statements. 

What is a private accountant?

A private accountant is somebody that works in industry as an in-house accountant for a corporation or a small business. 

They are different from public accountants because they are not responsible for the audit of a publicly traded company. 

You are also not required to be a CPA in order to be a private accountant. 

What is a Public Accounting firm

A public accounting firm is a partnership of Certified public accountants that is registered with the Public Accounting Oversight Board. 

The most prestigious public accounting firms are the big 4 accounting firms

The big 4 accounting firms are 

  • PwC
  • Deloitte
  • EY
  • KPMG

There are many public accounting firms though. We have a list of the top 100 accounting firms

Public Accounting Salaries

Salaries in public accounting are much greater than private accountants. There are many reasons for this. 

1. turnover

One reason is due to turnover. Because people leave public accounting so often, there are always opportunities to move up.

2. promotions

Opportunities to move up means that there is room for promotions. Promotions mean salary increases. 

3. you are a profit center

in public accounting, you are an asset to the company. In private accounting you are part of a cost center for the company.

If you make the public accounting firm your work for more money, they will pay your more.

There is no real way to make a company more money in private accounting. You can save a company money, but you can’t generate revenue from an accounting position in private. 

What city is best for public accountants?

Undoubtedly the best city for public accounting is New York. This is because New York has the most major corporations headquartered there. 

This allows many opportunities for public accountants. You can choose from almost all industries in New York when going to work for a public accounting firm.

There are other locations with many companies, but you are usually pigeon-holed into an industry in those cities.