When the word “CPA” comes to mind, most people think about Big 4 accounting firms and filing taxes during Busy Season. But they forget that there are plenty of other areas that CPAs can really be successful in, such as government! As someone who has worked in this sector for a while and sees the opportunity for growth, especially as I work toward my CPA, here is why I think CPA Exam candidates should consider a career in this institution.
I have been a local government auditor in my home state for the last 3 years.
I had never audited before I got this opportunity, and although it hadn’t been something I saw myself doing, I was excited about taking on the challenge of learning something completely new to me. Previously, I had worked for the State Department of Revenue for nearly 3 years, which gave me a total of 6 years’ experience in the public sector.
But during my past 3 years as an auditor, I have learned so much about how a government operates from day to day. It has been amazing to see what it takes just for a city to function and all of the departments that work together to make that happen. I have performed audits where I gained an understanding of operations such as how a city’s budget comes together, the many steps involved in hiring a government employee, how millions of dollars in expenses get paid, and the various IT software systems that are used to store the records of the city’s citizens. What I have learned as a result of performing these audits will be applicable to my work throughout my career. It has been an invaluable experience and a great addition to my resume.
Although I never could have imagined a long-term career in government, the opportunities are abundant in all levels of government right now.
That is, in large part, due to what is commonly referred to as the “silver tsunami”. The public sector stands to lose 20-30% of its current employees to retirement in the next 5 or so years. Because of this, there are numerous opportunities for new talent to fill those roles. I have had conversations with some of these workers who are looking to retire soon and one of the commonalities among them is that they have worked in various areas of government. Each time they were afforded the chance to try something new, that experience prepared them to continue trying new tasks in other departments. As a result, these respected individuals have a wealth of institutional knowledge, and are greatly valued by their employer. I, too, want to be viewed as someone who is constantly desiring to learn new things and adding value at the same time.
Being able to network with many influential people throughout the government is a huge benefit.
Recently, I have been approached about working for a department that I audited last year. It is a great compliment to the work that I performed on that particular project, which resulted in numerous areas for improvement. Although it is not uncommon for companies to express interest in hiring their auditors, it took me completely by surprise. I now know that if I decide to remain in government, it is important that I learn many aspects.
With that said, I have accepted the new governmental position as a Finance Officer. This role will afford me the opportunity to gain more hands-on experience from the operations side. And since I am in the process of obtaining my CPA license, there will be even more opportunity for growth. I am very excited to start! My goal is to absorb as much information as I can and use what I have learned at each stage of my career to advance within this sector. I recommend you to do the same.
My advice to anyone looking for a challenging and rewarding career without the crazy work hours and with unlimited opportunities for professional growth is to consider working in the public sector.
Not only does it look great on a resume, but there are numerous opportunities to advance within your field. I am amazed that I have learned so much. If I could have done anything differently, it would have been to pursue this path right out of college. A lot of times, some people are even inspired to pursue employment with the government in hopes of making a difference—and they can. Plus, it is a great place to gain knowledge that you can take with you well into the future.
--Kimberly Smith, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review