As CPA Exam candidates, there are many options for you to choose from once you obtain your license. Many decide to go into public accounting while many others decide not to. But if you're on the fence about whether or not this is the right path for you, here are some benefits of public accounting for you to think about and help you further down the road in your decision making process.
For most of the public accounting firms, you’re rated on an annual basis according to your performance. The process is slightly different depending on each firm, but they essentially rate you from 1-5. You are then given a higher or lower bonus and raise based on your rating.
The great thing about this process is that you have some control over how much you are compensated and can receive a big increase. If you’re one of the top-rated people, you can receive a 10-15% pay increase and a 10-15% bonus each year! And during promotion years, it’s even more. Not to mention all the other perks. Most firms throw in the CPA Exam review for free!
As noted above, you’re getting a rating based on performance. To determine that rating, you’re given written feedback on each client or job for which you work, which is shared in your file. The best part about this process is that it makes you a better contributor. You get the detailed information of what people liked and didn’t like about you and can work to improve yourself.
The reality is that there are tons of things that public accounting firms allow you to do that is surprising. Most of them give you a credit card with a $50,000 limit on your first day. They also trust you with important client documents and confidential information, and trust you to get your work done.
While every once in a while you may end up in an odd job, most of you career is spent in incredible places. Firms often have deals with the best hotels and airlines. You’ll frequently spend between $300-$500 on a hotel room and $50-100 on food, not to mention the cost of a rental car. It’s no wonder why you need the $50K limit!
Reward Points (FREE VACATIONS!)
When you start working in public accounting, they take advantage of all the rewards points you can earn. No matter which company you work for, you will put thousands of dollars on your company credit card. Many people forget to sign up for all the reward programs. Companies like Hilton, Delta, Marriott, Southwest, and Jet Blue all offer great deals for opening their credit card for the first time and for charging a certain amount of money in the first few months (like charging $5k in the first three months and getting 50,000 points). These points can be redeemed for a variety of products, vacations, flights, etc. That means not having to pay for hotels or flights on personal vacations.
Working with Incredibly Smart and Successful People
Many people who work in public accounting are brilliant. There are countless intelligent individuals who have succeeded in getting hired and then applying themselves in their positions. You will have the chance to learn from these people at work, lunch, and socials, and in traveling together. Take advantage of the greatest thing these companies have to offer: their people. Some of your best friends may end up being from your public accounting firm.
One of the most exciting opportunities the larger firms have to offer are the international opportunities. After you have worked in a firm for as little as three (but mostly six to eight) years, you can be sent to another country of your choosing. Frequently firms will pay most of the expenses for your travels. While not all firms offer the same packages, the deals are usually great. If there is a country you would love to live in, stick it out a few years and you can get there.
Exposure to High-Ranking Client Personnel, Including Executives
You’ll get the chance to speak with representatives who are CFOs and CEOs. In public accounting, you can go straight to the top very early on. If you start working as a staff accountant for a company right out of a university, you may have little or no interaction with even a controller.
Living the public accounting life is like living in dog years–one year’s worth of experience multiplies in other industries of accounting and the level of people you are exposed to comes much faster as a result.